Gary Wood is Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Academic Relations for 2U and works primarily with the MSW@USC degree program, where he oversees the development and rendering of curriculum for the USC School of Social Work’s Virtual Academic Center. He works with faculty and administration to ensure that curriculum is innovatively and accurately reflected and administered in the online environment.
Maid Marilyn Freed From Curse of Wicked Genie
Dean Marilyn Flynn of the USC School of Social Work beguiled 2Utes in this session of the company meeting, weaving a contemporary fairy tale starring fair maidens, knights of the 2U realm, and a wicked genie. Spun beautifully, with humor and wry commentary, Dean Flynn employed the metaphor to recount her own story of being held ivory tower hostage by “the curse of the wicked genie of higher education tradition” and the freedom she won by taking her program online with the help of 2U.
Dean Flynn recounted her wish to grow beyond the limits of small groups of students physically sitting around a teacher in a classroom — a tradition dating to the first universities — and create a new university for the 21st century. As her tale unfolded, in 2010, Maid Marilyn’s quest was allied by Sirs Chip of Paucek (CEO) and Rob of Cohen (COO), and Maid Lorrin of Ortiz (EVP) from the land of 2U, and together they created the MSW@USC.
Now five years later the program has grown enormously — with approximately 1,000 students on campus and another 2,000 in the Virtual Academic Center, the school is now the largest school of social work in the nation! With 1,200 graduates from the MSW@USC program already, the USC School of Social Work is now producing about 5% of the social work graduates nationally. Students are located in 49 of the 50 states (what’s up New Hampshire?), allowing students to remain in their home communities, where they also complete their internships. All of this growth is extending access to social work services more broadly, sometimes into communities that have never been served previously.
And They Lived Happily Ever After?
Most fairly tales end with the requisite “and they lived happily ever after,” but Dean Flynn was quite clear — this tale is not over yet! With very pleased students and faculty, and an impressive “No Back Row” platform that fosters student teacher intimacy that rivals or even exceeds that of on-campus, it might be easy to bring the tale to a close. “Not so,” says Dean Flynn. She envisions a much greater integration of campus and online students and faculty. Looking out over the 2U faithful she half exhorts, half challenges: “We can reinvent the University together!”