Some very good news: The Mellon Foundation has approved the funding for the GOKb proposal that will be integrated into the OLE project. This is a reassuring and critical commitment from our Mellon partners. They have been vital to the development of OLE and now are helping to enhance it further through this action. This action is to be truly celebrated!
As I observe the reaction to the recent board decision to create a commercial arm, I have felt inadequate to the task of answering all the many questions, concerns and fears. However, it has been easy to deal with the pleasure and relief that I also have heard! Rather than repeat things that you can and, I hope, have read on the blog (blog.kuali.org), let me just try to address the emotional side of all this.
As we think about this action by the Foundation Board, let’s remember the context. Through a variety of mechanism there was a clear consensus that continuing the Kuali operations in the present mode would not permit us to be robust and successful over the next, new Kuali decade. After many options were explored to move quickly, since it was agree that speed was important, we decided to create a commercial arm that could respond to market forces more quickly and efficiently than presently was the case.
I hope we all can agree that everyone involved in the decision has the success of Kuali as a goal. Many involved were there at the birth. We also need to agree that a change such as this needs time to unfold, reveal itself, its problems, its potential and the like. All the parts are not neatly defined but will be. Communication, of course, is essential and we will try to step it up but sometimes there is not an exact answer on specific questions such as what will be the first project of the commercial arm? Who will be on boards?
Many may consider this naïve, but it seems to me that the projects still are moving forward with the good leadership and wonderful staff who have been the force inside of Kuali and its success. What has been added is the potential of a parallel commercial partner led by a proven innovator, Joel Dehlin. This company will be able to assess and respond to market forces in ways that our present organization cannot. We really have the opportunity to concentrate expertise more effectively between the two entities rather than struggling with much of what we cannot do with the present project structure.
The Kuali Foundation will invest in the commercial company and with that investment will come mechanisms to insure that the company keeps to the core values of the Kuali enterprise, while also being freed to compete in the market place. The exact nature of the interplay is not defined. Your questions help us to improve our communication as the process develops. Let us remember that this is a big step and it does need time to unfold. Please keep up with the communications and commit yourself to the success of both sides of this new equation. This is an opportunity and even a call to reinvest our energy and resources in a new approach to serving our higher education community. We need all to be involved in this development process but we also need the Kuali spirit of adventure and positive energy. Given the past success of Kuali, I have no doubt that we can take this next step in a manner that responds to the market and our values.