Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Getting Smart Podcast

Oct 25, 2017

Under Paul LeBlanc’s leadership, Southern New Hampshire University has become one of the most important innovators in higher education in the world. Paul took over SNHU in 2003 when there were 2,500 students and currently today they have over 80,000 students. SNHU is the second largest nonprofit online provider in the world. Paul has also developed a program called ‘College for America’ — a business partnership program that’s project- and competency-based where you can move at your own pace — as well as Motivis, SNHU’s unique learning platform. 


In this episode, Tom interviews Paul LeBlanc, the President of Southern New Hampshire University. Paul and Tom discuss how SNHU’s became one of America’s leading nonprofit online universities and how Paul turned it into the innovative program that it is today. Paul also further elaborates on what he has learned about students’ experiences, his personal practices that feed his innovative mindset, and what he has learned about building a culture of innovation in the nonprofit sector. 


Key Takeaways: 

[:24] Tom provides some background on Paul LeBlanc. 

[1:59] Tom welcomes Paul LeBlanc and asks how Southern New Hampshire University became one of America’s leading online universities. Marketing and keeping the needs of potential students close by (The four Cs: Convenience, Cost, Credentials, and Completion time). 

[9:18] What Paul has learned about the student learning experience that makes online the ‘way to go’ and the benefits of going online. 

[12:54] More about the University: Asynchronous courses with an emphasis on convenience. 

[14:45] About ‘College for America,’ a competency-based and project-based program and how it came to be, and scaling it out. 

[21:40] High schools partnering with ‘College for America’ 

[22:52] Developing SNHU’s platform: Motivis 

[25:14] The creation of Rethink Education: Investing in people, ideas and companies that are rethinking the way we learn and teach. 

[28:01] What Paul LeBlanc has learned about building a culture of innovation in the nonprofit sector. 

[32:42] Paul’s personal practices that feed his innovative mindset. 


Mentioned in This Episode: 

Southern New Hampshire University 

Rise High LA 

Met’s School in Providence 

Match Beyond 

Motivis Learning 

Rethink Education 


University of Florida 


Suggested Listening: 

If you enjoyed this conversation, check out: 

“S2: E45 HigherEd Reinvented: Minerva Goes Global” 


Get Involved: 

Check out the blog on 

Find the GettingSmart podcast on iTunes, leave a review and subscribe. 


Twitter-Specific Quotes: 


“10 years ago I would argue that online was not nearly as good as traditionally delivered education.” — Paul LeBlanc 


“I would argue today that the best online [schools] … are better than most face-to-face.”[Text Wrapping Break]— Paul LeBlanc 


“The secret sauce for us … is not the platform … it’s student support —  student coaching.”[Text Wrapping Break]— Paul LeBlanc 


“If you’re doing truly disruptive innovation you probably want to keep it at arm’s length.”[Text Wrapping Break]— Paul LeBlanc 


“I think the great impediments to genuine innovation are status and money.” 


“If you are an institution that’s neither wealthy or high status there’s a hunger to be better … different.” — Paul LeBlanc 


“The world is moving faster and in a more volatile way than it ever has before.” — Paul LeBlanc 


“Everyone is going to have to be more innovative.” — Paul LeBlanc 




“[You have to be] your institution’s greatest cheerleader externally, but internally you have to be the most hard-nosed analyst. ”— Paul LeBlanc 


“If you build rigid institutions that can’t be flexible and fluid and changeable …  you are … much more vulnerable than you would’ve been in Higher Ed 20 years ago.” — Paul LeBlanc