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HEDLINE: Former Yale President Richard C. Levin joins Coursera as CEO

Coursera announced today that former Yale president Richard C. Levin will join the MOOC provider as CEO in mid-April.

Current CEO and Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller will become president, while co-founder Andrew Ng will assume the roles of chairman of the board and Chief Evangelist.

Key Takeaway

Levin joined Coursera as advisor to Koller and Ng in January. He retired as president of Yale in June 2013 after a 20-year tenure and currently serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology.

From the Press Release

“In the past few months as an advisor to Coursera, Rick has contributed a strong strategic voice in how we can use technology to educate people at scale and how we can structure our business going forward,” said Ng. “As CEO, Rick will be even better positioned to help build on our university partnerships and develop our pedagogy. We are very fortunate to have one of the greatest university presidents of our generation joining Coursera.”

During Levin’s tenure as president, Yale started to experiment with online education in partnership with Stanford and Oxford in 2000. He also helped to launch Open Yale Courses in 2007, giving free access to 45 courses taught by Yale faculty.

Under her new role as president, Koller will be responsible for university partnerships, user and community operations and legal affairs. Ng will lead the company’s development of MOOC pedagogy, and he will work with Rick Levin to expand Coursera’s presence in China. Lila Ibrahim, who has served as president since August 2013, will assume the role of chief business officer, responsible for business development, growth, marketing, and finance.

Besides his obvious experiences and contacts in higher education, Levin brings strong relationships to Chinese university presidents and the education ministry with him. China is already the second biggest geographical region behind the US when it comes to enrollments.

“It’s growing rapidly, and I’m very much hoping my relations with Chinese university presidents and the Ministry of Education will help that along,” he told the New York Times.

Over the two years since Coursera launched, the platform has attracted 7 million users and currently offers more than 600 courses which are created by 108 educational partners in 19 countries.

Further Reading

  • Richard C. Levin, Former Yale President, Joins Coursera as CEO | Press Release
  • Welcome Rick Levin as CEO of Coursera | Coursera Blog
  • Coursera Brings In Longtime Yale President Rick Levin as CEO | re/code
  • Coursera’s Big Coup: Former Yale President Steps into CEO Job | Inc.
  • Former Yale Prez to Lead Coursera | EdSurge
  • Former Yale President to Join Online Education Venture | New York Times

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Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at