Meet The Minerva Project, the chest-beating, Silicon Valley-spawned, Larry Summers-backed "E-lite" college that just might reshape the worldwide market for education.
The brain behind Minerva is Ben Nelson, the former CEO of online photo finishing company Snapfish. Nelson describes himself as a "student of the history of higher education," and says that the idea of dragging college into the modern age has been a personal passion since his undergraduate days at the University of Pennsylvania. He also has something of a Trump-like weakness for superlatives. "We are educating the world's smartest, hardest working students," he told me at one point, lapsing into present tense (he anticipates Minerva's first class will matriculate in 2014). "I want to be very clear about that. We are creating a civilian West Point. The people who will get into and graduate from Minerva will be, bar none, the best students on the planet. There will not be a single Minerva class that will not change your life perception," he added later. "That is the guarantee."