As I look at new age universities, we all seem to fall into the trap of creating a better version of the best universities in the world. So, we travel the world to study at Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, and to the next rung of Ivy Leagues around the world that catch our fancy. And, we aim to build better versions of them. None of them genuinely break the mold and are of scale. Haven t really understood where the problem lies? The inertia is so immense that every leader brought in cannot think beyond, and necessarily succumbs to the 1500-year-old model with just a twist of their own or the search committees have been so careful that they have not instituted a leader who will break the mold. We, at Atria University, look to be the first to do so.
Our approach to making it work
The commitment is such that intrinsically and architecturally we are built differently. A robust “frontier university” would have to be pushing the edges on multidimensional axes. The foundation of the university is the X and the Y-axis.
The Y-axis is all-important.
This will be the focus of the leader or the Director of the University. On this axis, our emphasis is on the creation of the Centers of Excellence (CoE), based on people who are passionate about an area of research & development that is of societal importance. While the University will fund the CoE, based on recommendations the CoE will have a path to self-sustainability.
Each year there will be targets for setting up new CoEs so that as the University grows, there is a commensurate growth of CoEs. Each CoE will have researchers, consultants, industry outreach trainers, and other professionals to become self-sustaining over a period of time. The goal for each Professor in the CoE is to offer themselves for no more than 12 weeks a year, for teaching ideally. They should be acquainted with the real world so that the teaching is fresh and has real-world relevance.
The CoEs are at the heart of what makes this University unique. For they are set up because we find researchers of passion. Not because we need teachers for subjects for a curriculum. Whether CoEs meet the curriculum needs momentarily or not is incidental. The only mandate to the director is that the lead for a CoE must have a passion for their area. Everything else is incidental.
The X-axis is very student-centric.
- There is a program Director managing all programs
- Each program has a program manager. It is possible that one person could be managing multiple programs
- The program manager is responsible for creating the curriculum, get the BOS approvals, and keeps the course work current at all times
- The broad contours of the manner of delivery will be defined by the program manager but will have have the following:
- Will be a 3-week course; project-based
- The course leader will deliver no more than 5 % of the 120 hours in a formal classroom setting
- There will be individual efforts and student teamwork followed by delivery at the end of each 3-week session; in the form of a white paper, audiovisual, poster, or seminar, and is determined by the students
- The process of evaluation is predetermined by the program manager and the curriculum lead
- This makes each course unique in the way it is taught, learned, and evaluated, keeping the learner fresh and on their toess