Shai Reshef

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Shai Reshef
Shai Reshef.jpg
Born September 11, 1955 (1955-09-11) (age 60)
Residence Pasadena, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Michigan (MA)
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Founder & President, University of the People

Shai Reshef (Hebrew: שי רשף‎, born September 11, 1955) is a businessman and educational entrepreneur. He is the founder and president of University of the People, a non-profit, online academic institution dedicated to the democratization of higher education by lowering/eliminating social and financial barriers – the university charges no course tuition and imposes only a modest fee for each exam taken.[1]


Reshef earned an MA in Chinese Politics from the University of Michigan.[2] Reshef is married and has four children. He lives in Pasadena, California.[3]

Business career[edit]

From 1989 to 2005, Reshef served as Chief Executive Officer and then Chairman of the Kidum Group, a test preparation company.[3] Reshef joined Kidum in 1989 when it was a single product company with revenues of $100,000. Under his leadership, Kidum grew to become a company with annual revenues in excess of $25 million, with over 1,000 employees and 50,000 students a year. In 2005, he sold the company to Kaplan, Inc., one of the world’s largest education companies and a subsidiary of the Washington Post.[4]

Between 2001 and 2004, while continuing as the chairman of Kidum, Reshef lived in the Netherlands where he chaired KIT eLearning, a subsidiary of Kidum. KIT is the eLearning partner of the University of Liverpool and the first online university outside of the United States. KIT provides MBA and M.Sc. degrees in IT. In 2004, the company was acquired by Laureate Online Education.[5][6]

University of the People[edit]

In January 2009, Reshef founded University of the People, a non-profit, tuition-free, online academic institution that seeks to revolutionize higher education by making college-level studies accessible to students worldwide.[7][8] In 2011, University of the People signed a collaboration agreement with New York University.[9] The university is based in Pasadena, California. 1,500 students from 132 countries have registered for its courses.[10] The school offers business administration and computer science degrees.[11] In February 2014 the university received accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council.[12]

Public speaking[edit]

Reshef has spoken internationally at conferences and universities including:

  • DLD: Digital, Life, Design in Munich.[13]
  • Yale Law School [14] as part of the ISP Speaker series.
  • UNDESA-AID, September 2009, the Annual Meetings of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development.[15]
  • Hewlett Foundation's OER 2011: The Impact of Open on Teaching and Learning, California in March 2011.[16]
  • Harvard University at the Berkman Center.[17]
  • The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential Conference in New York.[18]
  • NY Times Schools for Tomorrow event in New York.
  • Kauffman Foundation's Law, Innovation and Growth Retreat [19]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In 2009, named one of Fast Company magazine’s “100 Most Creative People in Business."
  • In 2009, selected by OneWorld as one of its “People of 2009”.[20]
  • In 2010, awarded a fellowship by Ashoka.[21]
  • In 2010, became a high-level adviser to the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID).
  • In 2010, rang the closing bell at the Nasdaq in New York City.[22]
  • In 2010, granted membership to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on behalf of his work with UoPeople in Haiti.[23]
  • In 2010, selected as the Huffington Post "Ultimate Game Changer in Education."[24]
  • In 2011, granted membership to Partners for a New Beginning (PNB).[25]
  • In 2012, named one of the "50 People Changing the World" by Wired Magazine's Smart List 2012.[26]
  • In 2012, names as a "Top Global Thinker" by Foreign Policy Magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers 2012.[27]


  1. ^ "Shai Reshef: An ultra-low-cost college degree". TED. March 2014. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Nate (February 1, 2009). "Internet connection + English = college degree". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  3. ^ a b Lewin, Tamar (January 25, 2009). "Israeli Entrepreneur Plans a Free Global University That Will Be Online Only". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Kaplan to Acquire Kidum, the leading provider of test preparation in Israel" (Press release). Kaplan, Inc. August 3, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  5. ^ Laureate Online Education and K.I.T. eLearning B.V., the eLearning partner of the University of Liverpool, announce name change. (press release) November 2004. Retrieved on 2009-06-04.
  6. ^ Richardson, Nicole Marie (April 20, 2009). "It's Time to Give Back". 
  7. ^ The Associated Press, Haaretz, Israeli founds world's first tuition-free online university
  8. ^ Israeli Entrepreneur Plans a Free Global University That Will Be Online Only. New York Times. January 26, 2009
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ A Free Online University Tests the Waters
  11. ^ A Free Online University Tests the Waters
  12. ^ Free Online University Receives Accreditation, in Time for Graduating Class of 7, The New York Times 13-02-2014.
  13. ^ Speakers '09. DLD Digital, Life, Design. Retrieved on 2009-06-04.
  14. ^ Shai Reshef - "The Future of Digital Education"
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ Attendees
  17. ^ [3]
  18. ^ "Living and Working to 100"
  19. ^ [4]
  20. ^ People of 2009: Shai Reshef. OneWorld.Net.
  21. ^ [5]
  22. ^ Representative From University of the People to Ring The NASDAQ Stock Market Closing Bell. August 17, 2010
  23. ^ Clinton Global Initiative Advances University of the People Pledge to Democratize Higher Education in Haiti. Yahoo News, September 10, 2010.
  24. ^ Who Is The Ultimate Game Changer In Education?. Huffington Post. Sept 15, 2010.
  25. ^ [6]
  26. ^ The Smart List 2012: 50 people who will change the world. Wired Magazine. Jan 24, 2012.
  27. ^ The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers. Foreign Policy Magazine. December, 2012.

External links[edit]