Public Purpose Magazine, Winter 2013
Public Purpose 2013 Winter cover


Triangulating MOOCsMapping Your Strategy for Massive Open Online CoursesBy Stephen G. Pelletier
To coin a phrase, when it comes to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), there’s something happening here, but what it is isn’t exactly clear. And there’s the rub for presidents of AASCU institutions. University leaders today face the discomforting challenge of needing to map a position for their institution within the Massive Open Online Courses space—when so far, few compass points in that space have come into focus.

So when it comes to MOOCs, how does your institution find its own true north? What factors need to go into your thinking as you plot a MOOC strategy for your institution? 

The Future of Digital TextbooksBy Nicole Allen
In today’s tight financial climate, common ground on college budget issues can be hard to find among students, faculty, administrators and lawmakers. Yet, there is at least one area where virtually everyone agrees— textbook costs are out of control.

Over the last 25 years, textbook prices have more than quadrupled and continue to rise faster than inflation. The average text for an introductory-level course costs $175, and many spike into the $200, or even $300, range. According to the College Board, the average student at a four-year public institution spends $1,200 annually on books and supplies.

Presidents & Practices#justdivein: The value of a presidential twitter accountBy Ángel Cabrera
A decade ago, Joi Ito—now head of the MIT Media Lab— introduced me to blogs and I didn’t get it. Why people would want to waste their time writing a public diary or reading someone else’s was beyond my comprehension. But when my friend Thomas Crampton left The New York Times to become a social media consultant, I thought I’d better give blogs a shot. Later, when I told Internet guru Loïc Lemeur how proud I was of my new blog, he let me know I was late to the party; the action had now shifted to a thing called Twitter—#youmustbekiddingme, I recall thinking.

Project Degree CompletionSnapshot-University of Texas-Pan AmericanBy Robert S. Nelsen
Sometimes, maybe most times, universities do the right thing because doing the right thing is the right thing to do. Agreeing to participate in Project Degree Completion is the right thing to do for the Rio Grande Valley, for Texas and for the nation.

Three years ago at AASCU’s New Presidents’ Academy, I remember being challenged to define my presidency by writing a purpose statement. We were staying at a hotel in Vermont. I went outside and wrote the following: “At UT Pan American, we have one purpose and one purpose only: to graduate as many students as we can, as quickly as we can, and with the best education that we can provide them.” My cabinet can (and does) repeat that purpose verbatim; so can the deans, members of the faculty senate, and many, many of the faculty at UT Pan American.