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Don’t Let the Skeptic Win

Written by Christopher "Chip" Paucek on Jul 6, 2022

Related content: Leadership, Impact and Outcomes

Today, we are openly sharing an email that Co-Founder and CEO Chip Paucek sent to all employees emphasizing 2U’s important role expanding access and affordability in higher education and continued commitment to its mission, values, and focus on student outcomes.


I am writing to all of you today because an article was published that paints a picture of 2U that is not reflective of our company, our values, our people, or our positive impact in the world. We knew this story was on the horizon and worked hard to correct inaccuracies and mischaracterizations and present the overwhelmingly positive experiences of partners, employees, and most of all, students.

Those who work most closely with 2U — hundreds of partners and tens of thousands of students — see and feel us living our mission and values every day. They see it in the passion each one of you brings to serving our partners and students. They see it in the pride our counselors and advisors have when representing great universities and life-changing programs like our partners want us to. And they see it in our amazing and dedicated colleagues — educators, technologists, advisors, innovators, and marketers who collectively are working toward one shared purpose: increasing access to affordable, high-quality higher education for everyone, everywhere, at every stage of life. What you all do each day matters. And you should be proud.

What we truly stand for as a company is reflected in the industry-leading quality and outcomes metrics of the programs we power: 72% and 79% average graduation rates for degree and boot camp programs, respectively. The $11K salary bump boot camp students report on average after graduation. The exceptional board pass rates that our partners report for licensure-based degree programs. The 92% of graduate degree students who would do it all over again online if they had the chance.

Our impact is demonstrated in our partnerships with great institutions like Morehouse, Rice, UC Davis, and Boston University, which have chosen to work with 2U because we share their vision for making higher education more affordable and accessible for all students. It is our contractual obligation to represent great universities, with intense oversight, ultimately making us brand stewards of some of the most important higher education institutions in the world. We take that trust and responsibility seriously and do it very well.

It's visible in our work helping employers like H&R Block, Infosys, State Farm, and Nestle Purina expand and diversify their talent pipelines by connecting them with skilled and passionate graduates.

And, most importantly, it’s embodied in the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives we’ve helped to improve — individuals like Erika Gonzalez, Kennadee Ray, Steven Montague, and Akibo Watson.

This is what a real picture of 2U looks like.

Over the next decade, our society will face many complex challenges, not the least of which will be ensuring that millions of people can obtain the skills they need to thrive in a tech-enabled economy and world. For-profit companies like 2U — mission driven businesses — can and must play a critical role in helping solve these problems.

Along the way, we may not get everything right all of the time. No company does. But over the last 14 years, we’ve gotten much more right than wrong because we’ve always stayed true to our mission and values, and have been willing to listen, learn, and improve so we can better serve partners and students.

We’ve also set the standard for transparency in our industry through annual quality and outcome reporting, and we will continue to shine a light on our role helping universities deliver high-quality online education. We’ve continued to evolve and innovate our model with more flexible options so partners can choose which services provide the most value to their institutions and students. We’ve helped our partners dramatically lower the cost of their degrees, and with edX, we will continue to create more accessible and affordable pathways for learners around the world to gain the skills to transform their lives for the better.

On the journey ahead, we will confront new challenges and experience more criticism, whether fair or unfair. That inevitably comes with leadership and when you’ve been working for as long as we have to meaningfully change established ways of doing things and usher in a more accessible model for higher education.

In the face of these challenges — no matter how difficult or distracting — we must remain focused on what matters most: our mission and values. By continuing to stay true to them, we can and will help to transform higher education to address society’s critical needs and unlock the potential of millions of people around the world so they can live more fulfilling and purposeful lives.


Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help partners thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.