Why A Business Magazine Named SNHU One Of World’s Most Innovative Companies

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SNHU made an interesting addition to the regular round of Top 50 Companies

Looking at media rankings of companies–”Most Innovative,” “Fastest-Growing,” or other roundups of various firms–we aren’t often surprised.  Take the magazine Fast Company.  For this month’s issue, they’ve listed “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.”  Dominating the Top 4 are the perennial occupants of the corporate Cool Kids’ Table: Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Normally, we’d let a list like this slide by without comment.  But then, there’s company #12:  Southern New Hampshire University.

Now that’s interesting.  After all, it’s not often we’ve seen a non-profit educational institution mentioned in (almost) the same breath as some of high-tech’s corporate juggernauts.

Apparently, Fast Company singled-out non-profit SNHU because of President Paul LeBlanc’s aggressive strategy to grow the school’s online degree program.  Reporter Anya Kamenetz writes:

“SNHU was a modest school when Le­Blanc joined as president in 2003, recognized for its culinary arts, business, and justice programs. Its online program was, as LeBlanc puts it, “a sleepy operation on a nondescript corner of the main campus. I thought it was squandering an opportunity.”

That little operation has turned into SNHU’s Center for Online and Continuing Education (COCE), the largest online-degree provider in New England. Its 10,600 students are enrolled in 120 graduate and undergraduate programs and specialties, everything from a sustainability-focused MBA to a creative-writing BA. Fifty more programs will be launched this year, and the COCE recently tested TV ads in national markets such as Raleigh, North Carolina; Milwaukee; and Oklahoma City. LeBlanc hopes that by 2014 SNHU will boast the country’s biggest online not-for-profit education system.”

And thanks to the heavy fire for-profit online degree programs are taking in Congress and the media, Kamenetz notes SNHU has plenty of room to expand into the realm of digital degrees.  The university’s also worked on more aggressive customer service for students.  And writes the changes are starting to pay off:

“COCE’s booming revenue, which is up to $74 million annually from $10 million…[since] 2007, helps subsidize the main campus. Like most not-for-profit colleges, SNHU runs at a loss, but doesn’t need to impose the double-digit annual tuition increases that are standard elsewhere.”

Despite the school’s overall success, Kamenetz writes that LeBlanc is pushing for a large-scale overhaul of SNHU’s business model.  One example is a new degree program set to debut in the fall:

“Based in part on free Creative Commons-licensed open educational resources that can be delivered on e-readers, the program will be self-paced and will give students access to multiple kinds of support: peers online, faculty experts, and people from their local communities…LeBlanc envisions making the learning materials available for free, much like MIT’s Open Courseware; students would pay only for faculty time if they need it and for competency-based assessments, including portfolio reviews, in order to get course credit.”



  • SNHU’s innovative marketing approach worked for us. An admissions rep visited the community college where my daughter was finishing her last semester, and within a half hour of meeting her, SNHU not only accepted her and all but one class of credits to transfer over, but also awarded her a $5,000 per semester academic scholarship. That’s not only a great business practice, but it’s a motivator. In only her second semester at SNHU, she is being inducted into the Business Honor Society. And even with six courses per semester, she’s managing to maintain straight A’s, determined as she is to prove that the school made a wise investment in her. As a parent I am quickly becoming a huge fan of SNHU! Thanks for the story on Word of Mouth.

  • It’s not all peaches and cream, but who wants reality to get in the way of such a feel good story on innovation in education?

  • Keturah Whitaker

    I am a 4.0 graduate student with a MBA in International Business and
    highly accomplished Project Management Professional and I am also a
    Black Female.

    I have been discriminated against by the instructor, by Patricia
    Robinson and by her supervisor. When I voiced that concern along
    with all the other concerns to Patricia Robinson and her
    supervisor, I was met with silence. I did not receive any updates
    from my initial complaint against the instructor on 6.3.13. I called
    Patricia Robinson 3 times and left voicemails the week starting
    6.3.13 to obtain an update on my complaint and she never called me
    back. I called Patricia Robinson again on 6.11.13 to no avail and
    spoke with an admissions director who stated she would track
    Patricia Robinson down. She finally called me back that day and was
    very vague and stated she did not call me back because she had
    nothing to say. Really? Then she sent me a finalized summary via
    email to my SNHU email. Please withdraw me from the university. I
    have no plans on ever returning and will advise my professional
    network and relevant blogs of your discriminatory and highly
    unethical business practices.

    I have never experienced such gross and blatant racism. I have never
    experienced such large cold and unethical behavior and totally
    unwarranted responses especially after I explained to everyone that
    my aunt died and no one has demonstrated ANY empathy towards me
    during this time. I am appalled and disgusted that you represent
    your institution as being reputable and diverse friendly. I will not
    be a part of this institution and will also send this to the NAACP
    and all other entities to broadcast your school as being very

    • Juliene Johnson

      I’m sorry that you feel so disrespected and discriminated against.

      I am interested in applying to SNHU to get my Masters, when I receive my Bachelors from Florida Atlantic University…and I am also a black female.

      So I googled reviews about the school and came across your comment.

      But I’m confused about one thing…..in what way were you discriminated against. All you stated was how the administration was disrespectful towards you in a complaint you submitted on how were discriminated against….but again, what racist actions and discrimination were pushed upon you.

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