MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 24, 2014) - Leading online education provider Coursera today announced that former Yale University President Richard C. ("Rick") Levin, an advisor to the company since January this year, will join as CEO in mid-April.
Levin, 66, retired from the presidency of Yale in June 2013 after a highly successful 20-year tenure. He led a comprehensive rebuilding of the campus, advanced economic development and home ownership in New Haven, purchased and began to develop a 136-acre campus in nearby West Haven, strengthened Yale's programs in science, engineering and medicine, undertook a major set of initiatives to internationalize the University, established a goal of reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent, and launched a visionary foray into online education. His recent book, "The Worth of the University," discusses the critical roles of universities in society.
Levin serves on President Obama's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. He is a trustee of the Hewlett Foundation and a director of American Express. He served on a bipartisan commission to recommend improvements in the nation's intelligence capabilities and he co-chaired a major review of the nation's patent system for the National Academy of Sciences that led to the America Invents Act of 2011.
Levin began serving as an advisor to Coursera co-founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng to help guide the fast-growing company in its mission to expand education to millions of people worldwide by offering classes from top universities and institutions online for free. Koller, Ng and Coursera are credited with building the largest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, which currently hosts 108 educational institutions in 19 countries, and offers more than 600 free courses to 7 million learners from every country in the world.
"Technology," Levin said, "now gives us the means to extend the reach of high quality education around the world and to provide millions of people with access to learning and opportunities for advancement. Coursera is at the front of this effort, with a stellar team, a remarkable growth trajectory, and a purpose that is an unmitigated public good."
"In the past few months as an advisor to Coursera, Rick has contributed a strong strategic voice in how we can use technology to educate people at scale and how we can structure our business going forward," said Ng. "As CEO, Rick will be even better positioned to help build on our university partnerships and develop our pedagogy. We are very fortunate to have one of the greatest university presidents of our generation joining Coursera."
Levin brings a strong vision and background in online higher education to this new role. Under his leadership, Yale's teaching was made available to a global public in unprecedented ways. He began Yale's experiment with online education, in partnership with Stanford and Oxford, in 2000 and later helped launch Open Yale Courses in 2007. Since then, millions of visitors from more than 200 countries have freely accessed 45 courses taught by distinguished Yale faculty, and today Yale is a Coursera partner. Levin also supported an ambitious effort to make Yale's vast museum and library collections available digitally to the world for free.
"Coursera is delighted to bring on such an accomplished educator, economist, government advisor, and business leader to help navigate the changing tides of higher education and the vast future of online education," added Koller. "We are all about rethinking how people will learn and how teachers will teach in the online world. Rick will help us tremendously in creating those experiences on all fronts, in close collaboration with our university partners to shape the future of education."
Both co-founders will remain actively engaged in the formulation of the company's strategy and in recruiting talent. Koller will become president, taking the lead on a range of key strategic initiatives. She will be responsible for further developing and strengthening Coursera's partnerships with universities. She will oversee university partnerships, user and community operations, and legal affairs. Ng will assume the role of chairman of the board, and serve as chief evangelist for the company. He will lead the company's development of MOOC pedagogy, and he will work with Rick Levin to expand Coursera's presence in China. Lila Ibrahim, who has served as president since August 2013, will assume the role of chief business officer, responsible for business development, growth, marketing, and finance.
Since its launch in April of 2012, Coursera has experienced remarkable growth and momentum in expanding quality learning opportunities around the world. The number of unique Coursera users grew by 73 percent in 2013 and the number of course enrollments grew by 134 percent. In the process, Coursera has helped to inspire a growing movement among universities and educators to improve on-campus teaching by means of new technologies, as well as a global thirst for educational resources that break down traditional boundaries of accessibility and cost.
Coursera's comprehensive education platform combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content, and a global community of peers, offering students a means of building valuable skills and knowledge to improve their life and career trajectories.
Coursera's mission is to educate millions of people worldwide by offering free online access to classes from top universities and institutions. Coursera's comprehensive education platform combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content, and a global community of peers, offering students a unique online learning experience. Coursera is financially backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, GSV Capital, International Finance Corporation, Laureate Education Inc., Learn Capital, and Yuri Milner, as well as a number of universities, including California Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. For more information, visit Coursera.org.