A Million-Dollar Education Bet
By Bryan Caplan
This is too rich for my blood, but wow:
Many private college presidents are more than a little frustrated with the way journalists and politicians love to quote Clayton Christensen. The Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University, Christensen famously predicted in a 2011 book called The Innovative University that as many as half of American nonprofit private colleges would close within 10 to 15 years. Last year, Christensen said he stood by the prediction…
But Mark Zupan isn’t buying the thesis…
In an essay Sunday in The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Zupan wrote, “Of course, universities such as ours face challenges. Changes in demographic factors, online learning options, the popularity of various majors, state funding for public institutions and international enrollments create a dynamic marketplace. Nonetheless, we see more opportunities than threats. From this perspective, let me propose a friendly wager. If at least half of all traditional universities fail or merge by 2030, then I will give $1 million to Christensen’s institute (provided it is not disrupted before then!). If, however, his prediction fails to materialize by 2030, then Christensen will contribute $1 million toward Alfred University’s endowment.”
The article ends:
On Sunday, asked if he had heard from Christensen, Zupan said, “The fish hasn’t nibbled yet.”
Inside Higher Ed reached out to Christensen and has not heard back.
As people who’ve actually understood my The Case Against Education know, I’m firmly in Zupan’s camp. I’d happily bet $1000 of my own money on Zupan’s side – with Christensen or anyone else.