The Jack Welch College Opens For Business

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Jack Welch, former head of GE (GE), is too old to be a CEO and is overexposed as an “on air” pundit who spends his time giving opinions on CNBC.

He has come up with something new to do while he writes his next book about how to be a good manager. He will put his name on an online university which is as bad as Julia Child putting her name on a McDonald’s (MCD) outlet.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Mr. Welch is paying more than $2 million for a 12% stake in Chancellor University System LLC.” The school will move its courses online and its MBA program will be renamed that Jack Welch Institute. The Internet college should be paying Welch for the exposure.

It is hard to image why Welch would make such a move when he could lecture at Harvard and keep his dignity. Welch is, by most estimates, a very rich man who made hundreds of millions of dollars on his GE stock.

Welch may simply be an example of a man who cannot stand being forgotten. He is not satisfied playing golf (he carries a low handicap), working on charities, and traveling to exotic places. The exposure he gets from TV, his books, and a column in BusinessWeek do not seem to be enough. Now he runs the risk of tarnishing the personal “brand” he has taken decades to build by extending himself into an industry he does not understand and a business which, for the most part, he cannot control.

Douglas A. McIntyre