When Paul LeBlanc arrived at Southern New Hampshire University in 2003 it had just attained university-status and begun a few online degrees to supplement its small on-campus population in Manchester, NH. Today it is one of the world’s few “mega-universities”, with 170,000 students, all but 4,000 of which are in online degree programs. LeBlanc describes how he applied the teachings of his friend and board member, the late Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, to take on the University of Phoenix and other for-profits that were dominating online education in the early 2000s, and then to disrupt SNHU’s own successful online degrees by launching low-cost, self-paced or competency-based education. He discuss the trends that are further destabilizing today’s higher education market and how SNHU is positioning itself to benefit from them.
David Finegold is the president of Chatham University.