A Collision of Innovation and Interests
Adrian College integrated the course-sharing platform Rize Education as a key platform to meet its course and enrollment goals, putting the school in the middle of a conflict of interest situation because Adrian’s president also co-founded Rize.
“I think if a president owns an education company, or is invested, they cannot continue to operate that and operate as chief officer of the university. I do think there is an inherent conflict of interest,” Heider said. “I know that the president has said the company is not making him any money, but it doesn’t matter—he is still representing two things, which is a private company and a private university. And that’s always going to be in conflict. The only way he can avoid it, in my view as an ethicist, is to either sell his shares in the company or put it into a blind trust so that he doesn’t know how it’s doing financially and he doesn’t have any control over it. Then he can simply focus on the task at hand, which is running the university.”
Don Heider, executive director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by Inside Higher Ed.