Ben Nelson, the founder of the online photo finishing company Snapfish, just received $25 million from Benchmark Capital in Silicon Valley, to launch what he claims is the answer to the “lockjaw” problem at elite universities. In other words, top tier schools are overcrowded and unable to expand their undergraduate capacity, resulting in droves of qualified applicants turning to less prestigious institutions. His idea is called the Minerva Project, an online elite university.
He expects the first class to matriculate in 2014, and the students will be selected on academic prowess alone. He expects only five to 10 percent of students to come from the United States and the rest to be international, reports the Atlantic.
The website is currently recruiting students and faculty and reads:
- Minerva is a mission-driven organization where every individual employee is expected to go to extraordinary measures to ensure that we achieve our goal of improving the world through the success of our students.
- Minerva expects and creates structures to encourage long-term commitments to the company. We are building an institution that will lead for centuries and all Minerva employees must keep that long term perspective in mind.
- Minerva is specifically attracted to accomplish things that have never been done before. For those who enjoy well-trodden paths, this is not the best environment.
Nelson expects tuition to cost around $20,000 per year.
The Atlantic raises the questions: “Can Minerva really whip prestige out of thin air?” and “Does the world really want an online Ivy?”
This story was originally published on TurnstyleNews.com on April 5, 2012.