We often discuss entrepreneurial research universities and leaders and have discussed ASU President Michael Crow in the past. Inside Higher Education features an interesting piece describing President Michael Crow’s 8 years of innovation at Arizona State University.
While Crow has spent years trying to reorganize and reimagine the modern research university, it will take years to see if this has worked. From Inside Higher Ed’s Jack Stripling:
The “rigid” structures that have come to define academe are targets for Crow, a much-watched university president who sounds as if he’d like to take a sledgehammer to the kinds of colleges and schools that exist at most institutions across the country, including, for the most part, Arizona State.
Crow’s philosophy is playing out across the four campuses that comprise Arizona State, where nine traditional engineering departments were recently combined into five schools. The new groupings include the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, which gobbled up the departments of aerospace, chemical, materials science and mechanical engineering. In so combining the disciplines, Arizona State officials argue they are forcing faculty out of silos and making them work together for the greater good. They concede, however, that there’s still not much evidence to suggest whether Arizona State is really transforming or merely rebranding.
My favorite part of the piece is where they describe his previous work at Columbia – highlighting that the folks who decided on his hiring knew they were about to open up a big can of innovation in the desert.
As executive vice provost of Columbia University, Crow played an instrumental role in ushering in a much-ballyhooed project called Fathom. The for-profit online learning platform, which was designed to sell Columbia faculty lectures to the public, cost the university millions before financial difficulties proved its undoing. Crow was also a key supporter of “Biosphere 2,” a giant Columbia-supported terrarium that became the butt of jokes and even inspired a Pauly Shore movie. The university abandoned its involvement with the project in 2003.
The piece on Crow and his work, early results, and opinions of him/ASU are worth reading if you care about the future of higher education in the US. The modern research university has been like rocket fuel for American innovation and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs like Crow how look to ignite campuses should be applauded and research.