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Elaine Ray, News Service (650) 723-7162; e-mail:
Yale Office of Public Affairs, (203) 432-1345
Princeton Communications Office, (609) 258-3601

Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, Yale to invest $12 million in Distance Learning Venture; Herbert Allison to head effort

Oxford, Princeton, Stanford and Yale universities announced today that they would each provide $3 million to launch their "distance learning" venture to provide on-line courses in the arts and sciences to their combined 500,000 alumni.

Herbert M. Allison Jr., former president of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., will serve as president and chief executive officer of the non-profit University Alliance for Life-Long Learning.

The Alliance will offer non-credit courses to the alumni, taking advantage of emerging technologies to give the graduates convenient access to their schools' extraordinary resources.

The four universities recognize the potential appeal of the Alliance's educational opportunities to other audiences seeking ongoing personal enrichment, and they plan in the future to make their offerings available to a wider public.

The Alliance will provide on-line courses and interactive seminars; multi-media programs; topical Web sites that include links to research information; live and taped coverage of campus speakers, exhibitions, and other events; lectures on tape; and other offerings.

The member universities and their faculties will control the content of the courses and other educational products offered, ensuring that they meet the highest standards.

"The Alliance among four of the world's greatest universities has an inspiring mission," Allison said. "It will provide the schools' alumni around the world with ongoing access to the best in higher education, enriching their lives and helping them make the fullest contribution to their communities. I am honored to be leading this exciting and promising venture."

Today's announcement comes at a time when the accelerating advance of knowledge is increasing the need for people all over the world to have access to life-long learning. The spread of democracy and of market-based economies is expanding the number of people who want and would benefit from access to the finest teaching and information resources.

Yale President Richard C. Levin will chair the Alliance's Board of Directors, which will include leaders of the four member universities and the business community. Each university named two representatives to the board.

Through the Alliance, the member universities will explore the exciting possibilities that the Internet and other technologies offer for teaching and learning. Where appropriate, innovations developed by the Alliance may be incorporated in the schools' core campus programs.

The Alliance will work with the four member universities to solicit and respond to faculty proposals for programs and projects that the alumni would find rewarding, and license and distribute them on the schools' behalf. Rather than develop its own production facilities and hire staff, the Alliance will sub-contract such needs to the individual universities on a project-by-project basis.

The Alliance will provide new opportunities for faculty members to incorporate technology and collaborate with their peers. Each university will develop the terms and conditions of its own faculty's involvement in the Alliance.

The Alliance expects to begin making courses and other products available in the latter part of 2001.


(See the accompanying statements of Oxford Vice-Chancellor Colin Lucas, Princeton President Harold T. Shapiro, Stanford President John Hennessy, and Yale President Richard C. Levin. A list of board members and a bio of Herbert Allison also are attached.)




Oxford-Princeton-Stanford-Yale Alliance for Distance Learning
Board of Directors


G. Leonard Baker
Managing Director
Sutter Hill Ventures

Edward Barry
Former Director
Oxford University Press, New York

John Etchemendy
Stanford University

Richard C. Levin -- Board Chair
Yale University

Colin Lucas
The Vice-Chancellor
The University of Oxford

Heidi G. Miller
Chief Financial Officer & Senior Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning and Administration

Jeremiah P. Ostriker
Princeton University

Srinija Srinivasan
Vice President and Editor in Chief
Yahoo! Inc.


Alliance for Life-Long Learning
Statements by Member Universities

Stanford President John L. Hennessy

"We are delighted to be a part of this new initiative to expand the boundaries of distance learning and provide our alumni with the experience of intellectual vitality and creativity that our four universities can provide. We are indeed fortunate to have Herbert Allison to lead this effort on our behalf. His commitment to education coupled with his business experience make him an ideal choice for president and CEO of the Alliance.

From the beginning, Stanford has sought ways to extend the power of education to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Furthermore, Stanford has been one of the pioneers in using the Internet as yet another means to share that knowledge. I am hopeful that the extraordinary courses and programs that our four institutions offer will find an even broader audience through the Alliance."

Yale President Richard C. Levin

"Today's announcement marks a significant step forward for our four universities, together and separately, as we seek to find the best ways to use the newest information technology to support teaching.

Yale's success has always relied significantly on the guidance and support of its alumni, and we are eager to meet their strong interest in lifelong educational enrichment. They are our partners in this new effort, and they will help us determine the most rewarding course for distance learning not only for them, but potentially for students on campus as well as for a wider public across the country and around the world.

We expect this Alliance of four great universities to play an important role in setting the standard for distance education in the arts and sciences. By cooperating, we believe we can contribute far more than could any one institution acting alone.

We are delighted that Herbert Allison has agreed to serve as president and chief executive officer. Respected throughout the business world for his achievements, he has a proven commitment to higher education and a clear vision of the exciting possibilities that the Alliance presents."


Oxford Vice Chancellor Colin Lucas

"We believe that a service such as this offering access to the educational resources of four of the world's top universities will have global appeal. The internationally acknowledged pioneering work of our Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning Program will underpin Oxford's contribution. The Alliance offers us exciting opportunities to expand the services we offer and we look forward to developing this partnership to its full potential, in the context of our wide range of distance learning programs."


Princeton President Harold T. Shapiro

"For Princeton, we believe the alliance with our peer institutions will assist us to extend and enhance our central commitments to teaching and learning. Our two primary objectives are to provide the best learning experiences that we can to our students and alumni and to enable faculty members to explore new methods which may enhance the teaching and research they are able to carry out. The use of electronic and other media offers the promise of extending in exciting new ways the University's commitments to develop and disseminate knowledge. We want to insure that our faculty and students have the opportunity to take full advantage of instructional possibilities and, indeed, to imagine and develop new possibilities.

The alliance with other universities which share similar values and objectives will enable us to learn from one another and, we believe, to move forward faster than we would be able to do alone, in order to develop the highest quality educational materials. Through its participation in the alliance Princeton will seek to develop online educational materials, which can both enhance learning for current students and increase the availability of lifelong learning to our alumni.



Herbert M. Allison, Jr. served as president, chief operating officer and a director of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. before retiring in July, 1999.

During his 28-year career with Merrill Lynch, Mr. Allison worked as an investment banker in New York, Paris, Tehran and London. He later held various executive positions including director of human resources, chief financial officer and head of the firm's Investment Banking, Debt and Equity divisions worldwide.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1943, Mr. Allison received a B.A. in philosophy from Yale in 1965 and, after four years' service in the U.S. Navy including a year in Vietnam, earned an M.B.A. from Stanford in 1971.

He is a member of the NASD Board of Governors and also is a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Investment Committee of The College Fund/UNCF.

Mr. Allison is chairman of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business Advisory Council. He serves on the Investment Committee of Yale University, on the Advisory Board of the Yale School of Management and on the Corporate Council of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

He also is a member of the Board of Directors of Financial Engines, Inc.


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