What was happening in the early 1970s?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by bceagles, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    What was the catalyst in the early 1970s for the Board of Education of the state of NY, NJ, and CT to create the uniquely structured colleges now known as Excelsior, TESU, and Charter Oak?

    Why did only these 3 Northeastern states push this initiative? Why didn’t we see southern, midwestern, and western states follow suit?
  2. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Good questions.
    Four of the factors were, I think,
    University of London
    Fortuitous name situation

    With millions of returning veterans (WW II and Korea), and the "G.I. Bill," there was a huge need to make educational opportunities (and credentials) available in a timely manner.

    The authorities in New York made various efforts in the 'credit for life experience learning' direction A lot of this was based, directly and indirectly, on the stuff that the University of London had been doing since the early 1800s (and the U of South Africa since the early 1900s).

    The name "University of the State of New York" had been in use since the late 1700s as the name for the state's higher education activities, but there was no separate school . . . until folks in Albany discovered (some were surprised) that their laws already permitted operating a university with that name.

    The University of London, which had many tens of thousands of external students in Africa and Asia shrewdly and correctly saw a potentially big market in America. I was living in England in the early 70s, and meet with U of London people in 1972-74, and we agreed that they would assist me in writing a book (or a 'report') telling Americans how to get degrees from the U of London. It was called something like, "How to get a British university degree without ever leaving America." It included many sample questions from their exams . . . and it became extremely popular in the US. With the giant U of London looming on the horizon, some people at the U of the State of New York apparently felt they should advance their plans and start offering degrees. They were possibly spurred on when, in the mid 70s, the University of London unexpectedly announced that they were discontinuing their external degree program effective in 7 or 8 years. (The decision was reversed a few years later, after huge outcries worldwide.)

    In 1974, I re-did my 'report' into a book called "College Degrees by Mail," including primarily London, U of the State of New York and Edison (plus the then-accreditation candidate Board for State Academic Awards (later Charter Oak) in Connecticut), and the book 'took off' -- over 100,000 copies in the first two years. In 1990, the president of what is now Excelsior told me that in the early years, more than half their inquiries came from my book.

    As for other states, I have long wondered. In the mid and late 70s, I (and many other so-called experts) were predicting that within a few years, every state would have a comparable distance learning university, and it simply never happened. The only comparable development was Athabasca in Canada. I guess there must have been a lot of people in the other 47 states saying, "Hey, if they're doing it so well in those three states, we don't need to," and "We don't need a new school; we can do it within the structure of our existing schools." Still others may have looked at the wee enterprise started by Professor John Sperling in California to train firefighters and others, which had grown from 8 students in the first class into the immense University of Phoenix, and thought, "Well if the private sector is going to do this, then we don't need do, or can't compete."
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  3. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Aren't schools like WGU much in the mold of the U o' Lo?
  4. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    Thanks for the response! I’m surprised more states didn’t focus on getting their hands on GI Bill dollars.

    I forgot to mention https://myunion.edu/ as an early adopter of the unique structure.
  5. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    I wouldn't discount the influence of the non-traditional residential programs started in the late 60's by places like Nasson College with their "New Division"

  6. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Nasson definitely had good intentions and an influential program. And a very nice campus in Maine.
    When they went out of business in the mid 80s and sold their campus, they inadvertently left behind all the student records, and the new owner attempted to seize the opportunity and claim he was running the same regionally accredited Nasson. No. The regional accreditor disagreed. And when said new owner, Ed Mattar, tried to charge students of the 'original' Nasson for transcripts and diplomas, legal actions began. (Mattar wanted to buy my 'Degree Consulting Services' business in 1983, and became quite irate when I wouldn't sell it to him. He later committed suicide on the day he was to be sentenced to prison for bank fraud matters in Colorado.)
  7. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I recall that the Cal State University System offered a BS degree that could be mostly earned away from campus in the 70s and managed out of Long Beach.
    It might be mentioned in an early Bear guide.

    1971 - The first undergraduate and graduate external degree pilot programs are implemented to serve populations not previously reached.
    Source: https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/about-the-csu/Pages/history.aspx

    I also recall the predecessor to Phoenix University taught off campus degree programs under the auspices of University of Redlands in the 70s.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  8. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I found my Bears "College Degrees by Mail, 1976-1977" and the program I recall might have been that mentioned on Page 29.

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