UV Letters

Van Halen University

Jun 20, 2014
In the early 1980s as video began killing the radio star, the paradigm of male licentiousness was Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth. Known for his spandex pants, mesh tops and scarves, heavy eyeliner and long, flowing blonde hair, Roth combined the fashion sense of glam rock with the aggressive heterosexuality of heavy...
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Not Invented Here

Jun 6, 2014
Most transformative ideas in higher education already exist. The hard part is not the idea, but rather selection and execution. Of the many ironies in American higher education, one of my favorites is its combination of isomorphism - the tendency for universities to have identical missions and strategies, largely driven by college rankings - and "not...
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Getting Religion

May 23, 2014
One of my family's favorite restaurants is a neighborhood Italian place that can best be described as cheesy. My kids love it because they get to watch the chef make pizza. I love it because the kids are occupied and because my favorite poster hangs in the men's room. The poster is called the "Pope Chart" and, according to Amazon (where it is currently out-of-stock) "features...
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The Great Online Course Debate: Janet Napolitano, Rick Levin and Guy Smiley

May 9, 2014
In recent weeks we've seen contradictory pronouncements on the role of online courses in higher education from one of higher education's longest-tenured leaders and one of its newest. Rick Levin, President of Yale for 20 years and the new CEO of Coursera, the leading provider of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), has conducted a range of interviews in which he's stated his belief that online courses will address the fundamental...
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Learning from Silicon Valley: Education-as-a-Service (EaaS)

Apr 25, 2014
In "Silicon Valley" venture capitalist Peter Gregory hates college so much that the best strategy for getting him to hear the pitch for your startup is telling him you'll re-enroll if he doesn't listen.

The startups that the real Peter Gregory (AKA Peter Thiel) is backing in the real Silicon Valley are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. If you're not intimate with SaaS, the exemplar is...
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Innovation through Adversity

Apr 11, 2014
On January 24, 1975, an American jazz pianist named Keith Jarrett was in Germany preparing to play a concert at the Cologne Opera House. It was clear to Jarrett this wasn't an ordinary concert. First, he wasn't used to playing opera houses. Second, it was scheduled to begin close to midnight following the conclusion of...
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Sunrise Semester

Mar 28, 2014
Toronto in the 1970s and 80s was drab, grey and pretty much a cultural wasteland save in one respect: comedy. Comedy greats like Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers and The Kids in the Hall got their starts in Toronto clubs in this era. Lorne Michaels left Toronto for New York and created Saturday...
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Lego University

Mar 14, 2014
With $225M in U.S. box office receipts, the hottest movie in America was inspired by little plastic bricks. Which is funny, because at my house Lego bricks are always underfoot and, at least amongst adults, inspire only howls of pains. But for younger family members Lego is...
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Will It Blend?

Feb 28, 2014
One of the unlikeliest stars of the Internet is Tom Dickson, the nerdy founder of Blendtec who conceived, produced and stars in the series of online videos called "Will It Blend?" The conceit is that the Blendtec Total Blender is so powerful it blends anything. So Dickson starts each...
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Of Degrees and Debutantes

Feb 14, 2014
Whit Stillman's 1990 film Metropolitan chronicles the adventures - more accurately, elaborate and annoying conversations - of a group of rich, young toffs during debutante ball season. I remember seeing the film with friends my first year of college. Having grown up in Canada, the world...
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