March 29, 2001

eCornell Hires New Academic Consultant

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eCornell hired Prof. David Lipsky, industrial and labor relations, to be its first Director of Educational Planning and Review, Chief Executive Officer Francis Pandolfi announced on March 21.

“I think he will be able to bridge the gap that has existed between the faculty and eCornell,” said J. Robert Cooke, dean of University Faculty.

Pandolfi explained, “He’s going to help us to be sure that we produce good, solid educational programs.” Lipsky will be the main academic consultant to eCornell, working part-time for the corporation.

Lipsky is to review the academic content of the courses which professors design to be taught online for eCornell.

The current the director of the Institute on Conflict Resolution (ICR), Lipsky has served as dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations from 1988 to 1997 and as the director of the University’s Office on Distance Learning (ODL) from 1997 to 1999.

“I’m not giving up my regular faculty position,” Lipsky said about his plans to remain the director of ICR and continue to teach.

Although eCornell is owned by the University, eCornell operates independently as a for-profit company. The business is run by a separate board of directors, employing about 25 people.

The Board of Trustees allocated $12 million from Cornell’s endowment to eCornell in September as an investment in the start-up company.

In November, eCornell opened an office on the ground floor of 312 College Ave., in addition to the corporation’s offices in New York City and in the Village Green, located on Hanshaw Road near the Triphammer Mall.

According to Cooke, the fact that eCornell is a for-profit corporation continues to be a sticking point for some professors.

Although Lipsky has the respect of many faculty members and is well acquainted with distance learning technology, “his appointment will not make that issue go away,” Cooke said.

According to Pandolfi, eCornell will begin to offer not-for-credit ILR courses in the fall.

“A lot of the priorities at this point are related to many interests,” Lipsky said.

Lipsky added that when eCornell begins to offer engineering classes, “I hope to be able to help in those areas, too.”

“He’ll be working with all the colleges on the content of the programs they’ll be offering [through eCornell],” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations.

Vice Provost Mary Sansalone established the position of Chief Academic Officer (CAO) when eCornell was first conceived. She resigned the position Dec. 1. It has not been filled.

“It’s not on the back burner; it’s on no burner. There is no CAO job, period,” Pandolfi said.

With Lipsky’s appointment, some of the CAo’s responsibilities will be covered by his position.

Lipsky brings much experience in distributive, or distance, learning to eCornell. As dean, Lipsky presided over the creation of a global video-conference class in the ILR school, Global Industrial and Labor Relations. The ILR School was the first of the University’s colleges to incorporate video-conferencing into some of its classrooms.

“We’ve always used new technologies to achieve these [outreach] objectives,” Lipsky said.

Courses offered by eCornell cannot be taken for academic credit and are limited to non-degree programs.

While the University community continues to debate the merits of eCornell, Cooke credited the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Distance Learning, on which Lipsky served, with helping “to bring about a reasoned discourse between the faculty and the administration.”

“It’s no longer a continuing confrontation [which characterized last year’s debate on eCornell],” Cooke said.

Both Lipsky and Cooke noted that eCornell is still evolving. “You don’t snap your fingers and everything falls into place,” Cooke said. “It’s a long process.”

Archived article by Maggie Frank