Even the most venerable entities are not immune from today’s challenging economy.
From American Express to Wynn Resorts, drastic action is being taken to ensure survival. So it should come as no surprise that this financial firestorm has scorched America’s oldest institution of higher learning: Harvard University.
According to insider information, in a bold move to ensure its fiscal survival, Harvard University will today announce that it is going entirely online as of April 1, 2010.
The 308 acre campus has been sold for an undisclosed sum to billionaire businessman and 1965 Harvard Business School alumnus Robert K. Kraft.
Kraft will develop the land into a massive commercial and residential complex in the heart of Cambridge, MA named “Harvard’s 100 Yard.”
“Given the challenging nature of our time and the unforeseen financial predicament in which we have found ourselves, this was the most economically viable option available.” Harvard President Dr. Drew G. Faust said when reached for comment. “We will save millions of dollars in toilet paper alone!”
The school has some experience with online learning through its Extension School, but will develop a proprietary instructional platform for this new venture: Fully Online Optimized Learning System (FOOLS).
In addition to robust learning tools, FOOLS will integrate several interactive features, including a virtual classroom environment similar to Second Life.
“Certainly we will miss our beautiful campus, but I am sure it will be equally as enlightening sending instant messages to each other,” Faust added. “L-O-L, as they say!”
The change comes at a time of unusual fiscal concern at the historic campus. The university’s $36.9 billion endowment recently suffered losses of at least 22% (estimated at $8 billion) and projections anticipate a further decline. Insiders fear the loss could be even higher once real estate and private equity declines are considered.
AOL founder Steve Case has been hired to oversee production of thousands of CD-ROMs containing key pieces of code necessary for students to use the system.
Internet raconteur Philip J. “Pud” Kaplan will ease the transition by creating a “deadpool” game in which students can bet which classmate will fail next.
Facebook founder and former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg will personally design an application to virtually recreate the social scene at the university.
Social media expert Chris Brogan has also been hired to provide strategic vision while Loren Feldman will produce daily video updates of the technical development using puppets.
Shel Israel and Robert Scoble will document the historic transition on Twitter.
“These people are all dopes,” Feldman groaned when informed of the news. “They should have asked me for my opinion since it is always the right one!”
Loic Le Meur and Gary Vaynerchuk will provide a continuous supply of French wine and cheese to the developers, faculty, staff and students during the transition. To address any potential psychological concerns Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura will be on call to offer counseling services to those in need.
“The school is getting real,” said Dr. Phil. “Far too often people wait until it is too late to do what’s right.”
Not to be outdone, Dr. Laura is quoted as saying “without dormitories those stupid co-eds won’t be shacking up like unpaid whores!”
With regard to the development of the campus, Robert Kraft — who recently launched Patriot Place adjacent to Gillette Stadium where his NFL Franchise New England Patriots play – is no stranger to tackling big tasks and succeeding.
The 67 year-old Kraft, with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion, was named the 321st richest American by Forbes magazine.
“As an alumnus I am proud to be a part of this project. Today, we are all Crimsons!” Kraft is quoted in the press release.
Preliminary plans call for a residential area divided into four football-themed sections: First Down, Second Down, Third Down, Fourth Down, with an exclusive area for custom homes named Tom Brady Estates.
Also included will be a robust retail area with an array of retail stores.
The initial list of national tenants includes Hooters, Victoria’s Secret, TGI Fridays, Subway, and Jiffy Lube.
Unique establishments will include “The LaDanian Tomlinson’s Classy Ladies Burlesque Review” and “The Tony Dungy Center for Quiet Strength and Sanctimonious Sainthood” – a 100,000 square foot house of worship made entirely of glass.
Patrons with small children can leave their children at “The Antonio Cromartie Daycare Center for Children with Forgettable Names” for a flat fee of $31.
In recognition of the land’s educational roots, a Dootson School of Trucking campus, “The Ted Kennedy Memorial School for Underwater Driving” and the first-ever Video Professor Academy will open on the former site of the ivy league school.
With a nod to sustainability the entire development will recycle and reuse its waste at the Eric Mangini Waste Processing Center. The facility will be heated by the excess hot air from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT (delivered directly via an underground pipeline).
Every building will be protected from the elements with organic insulation manufactured by the John Tomase Company.
Finally, with safety as a top concern, all 308 acres will be secured by a state of the art security and video monitoring system. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was personally involved with the design of the video camera network.
“It’s beyond anything I could have imagined,” commented Belichick. “The video system alone is worth the investment!”
Look for the first phase of ”Harvard’s 100 Yard” to open next summer!
PS: April Fools!