CSU plans to begin marketing "CSU Online" in February, in an effort to attract additional online students to a vaguely-defined set of course and degree offerings. Using $50,000 from each CSU campus (that's $1,150,000) and what the San Francisco Chronicle terms
a cross-your-fingers plan to get $20 million from the state, the hope is to make money down the road from the new students.
Faculty, meanwhile, are concerned about the lack of faculty involvement, the diversion of CSU resources, and the possibility that the CSU will buy pre-packaged courses from publishers rather than having actual CSU faculty design the courses offered under the CSU name. The Chronicle states the CSU refused to meet with concerned faculty, claiming it was too early. CSU also declined to answer a series of questions about CSU Online from the California Faculty Association (CFA), which represents CSU faculty.
In an open letter to CSU Chancellor Reed, CFA asks
Why is Chancellor Reed developing a separate and competing system to the California State University?
Describing "CSU Online" as
an opening wedge in an effort to enlist the CSU's resources and good name in damaging the CSU's own status as a public entity, the letter points out:
Were Reed genuinely interested in coping with the perceived shortfall in the CSU's ability to meet the next generation's higher educational needs, he would be proposing that CSU enhance its existing offerings in house, both online and traditional face-to-face courses, including through CSU's long-standing Extended/Open University.
Instead of taking that logical and reasonable step, Reed is laying the groundwork for "CSU Online" to compete with the existing CSU, funneling revenue away from the CSU into for-profit companies' coffers.
CFA describes the breathtaking contempt for instructors exhibited at the kickoff meeting for "CSU Online" last February:
[T]he outside team hired by Reed to promote "CSU Online," features as its very first content slide the following: "CSU Online: Why Do This?" accompanied by a picture of an imaginary robot teacher and the words: "I have designed the teacher of the future. Instead of using people I have chosen cyborgs because they don't need to be paid."