In the face of a severe downturn in the economy, the private school is changing its strategic direction. In addition to facing the daunting task of raising funds to build expensive campus facilities, George Wythe is looking to expand the delivery of its education programs over the internet.
The new concept was introduced to supporters via a recent email from George Wythe founder Oliver DeMille.
DeMille writes of a “tuition bubble” similar to the “mortgage bubble” that helped trigger the economic crisis. He said the new economic realities have had a significant impact on educational institutions, including George Wythe. DeMille explained, “This has driven our costs up…and in this recession we have had to make cuts, layoffs and really tighten our belts for the months ahead.”
DeMille adds that the crisis “has helped us step back and look at the real needs in the future, and redefine how George Wythe University can deliver its unique mission…”
As a result, George Wythe is looking at an aggressive expansion into the delivery of internet-based educational products. DeMille said the new online courses are expected to be rolled out in the summer of 2009.
Officials stress that the Monticello campus is still very much in the future plans for George Wythe. DeMille writes, “Our plan is to…build a small but excellent campus in Monticello that will grow beyond this recession and provide leadership education far into the future.”
“We still plan to build in Monticello, with a new facility to open no later than 2012,” said George Wythe President Shanon Brooks. “We are still moving forward, just scaling back a bit. We want to build with no debt.”
An audacious strategic plan for George Wythe University was released in the fall of 2008, which called for a capital campaign exceeding $1 billion. In the face of the current economic crisis, the short-term prospects of raising the funds have dwindled.
In addition to the financial challenges, the college faces the task of trying to find and develop up to 400 acre-feet of water rights for the campus, which is scheduled to be located west of Monticello.
While scaling back in some areas, the officials with George Wythe are enthusiastic and audacious about the new plans. DeMille closes the letter to supporters with these words, “A new type of schooling is emerging—some see it and some don’t. But it will revolutionize the world…”