The Oleana Foundation
Welcome to The Oleana Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing back affordability to higher education. Our plan is simple: creating a new, private, faculty-residential liberal arts college that will provide students with the residential college experience for half the cost of the current public system. Rather than hopping aboard the “on-line” education bandwagon, which reduces quality but has failed to significantly lower costs, the Oleana Foundation seeks a dramatic alternative: to restore the residential liberal arts college experience without its exorbitant price tag. No one, in fact, doubts the superiority of the residential college experience over on-line learning, but higher education has simply become unaffordable for too many people. The cost of higher-education is not just unaffordable for individual students, it has also become unsustainable for state budgets.
The Oleana Foundation's ability to provide a critically-based education for less than the cost of existing public colleges is based on a comprehensive and dramatic plan to restructure the delivery of service. Our plan includes:
- Procuring the campus at minimal cost as part of a broader economic renewal project
- Using the campus rehabilitation process to implement sustainability into every facet of the college: energy consumption and renewable energy sources, waste management, water use and reuse, food procurement, and landscaping.
- Employing a residential faculty and using faculty housing as part of the overall compensation package to reduce salaries.
- Drastically streamlining the administration and the staffing of the college, with a goal of capping these numbers at 1/3 the size of the faculty and restricting compensation of senior administrators to the same levels as faculty.
- Reducing and reforming academic disciplinarity to deliver critical education developmentally, coherently, and more efficiently--allowing us to provide a bachelor's degree in 3 years.
- Eliminating nonessential services and amenities that are peripheral to the mission of the college, such as multi-million dollar spa-styled sports facilities, high-rise style and apartment-type housing, and inter-Varsity athletic teams.
- Creating collaborative relationships with the local municipality as a means of creating economies of scale in day-to-day operations (i.e. library, auditorium, sports facilities)
- Establishing an Academic Village-style senior housing community of 100-120 units as part of the campus to create a tax base for the local municipality and to create a larger footprint for renewable energy technologies.
Currently, higher education is too invested in the academic disciplines and too bureaucratic to achieve the kinds of changes necessary to drive down their spiraling costs. Moreover, because they are so expensive, colleges and universities must steer students into more vocational-style training so that graduates are better able in the short term to pay off their higher-education debts. Conversely, the college that the Oleana Foundation creates will begin with the fundamental premise that the corporate model of higher education is proving itself unsustainable--both for the consumer, and for the state governments which are forced to underwrite the public institutions. Instead, a communal model based on the principles of sustainability and affordability can realize levels of quality that are currently absent, while at the same time, reforming the way higher education works.
At the core of our educational vision are three fundamental principles: community, affordability, and sustainability. Adopting a communal model, we are committed to creating a faculty-residential college. All faculty will live on campus, participating in the life and upkeep of the community. The goal of a faculty-residential institution is to place students in close proximity to faculty, to provide faculty with a sustainable community, and to create learning environments outside the classroom that can model the ideal of “life-long learning”.
Our vision of higher education in the 21st century would not be complete without extending the operations of the college into the community itself. With a projected enrollment goal of 1,000 residential students, sixty-five full-time residential faculty and 22 full-time residential staff, the college can function to both stabilize its surrounding location and act as an economic engine. Adhering to our principle of sustainability, the college will look to purchase as much food as possible from local growers, and purchase other goods and services locally.
In addition to its economic impact, the college that is created by the Oleana Foundation will be actively seeking to partner with the local municipality to create and assist in the operation of pilot schools from K-12. Moreover, with its dedicated three-week service learning term in December, the college will be looking to place 1,000 students into faculty-supervised volunteer service within the community. Students will then follow-up with their service for the remainder of the academic year. Lastly, the college will strive to operate as a cultural hub for the community: providing entertainment through the arts in a manner open to the public.
The Oleana Foundation seeks nothing less than to transform the way that higher education does business. By restoring the purpose of a Liberal Arts education, our curriculum focuses on developing the critical and analytical skills students will need to take their place as leaders in a dynamic and increasing global society. Our goal is to usher in a renaissance for Liberal Arts education: one that everyone can afford.