William H Aarhus

MOOC Program Manager

Bill Aarhus manages UMD’s evolving Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) program with Coursera and edX, from improving campus teaching and reach to the exciting new space of hybrids. Upon taking the lead in 2018, he helped the team return UMD's MOOC program to growth. 

He led the program to its first #1 MOOC worldwide among thousands of offerings (in April 2019), a #3 MOOC (in January 2019, among top ten offerings by MIT, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale), and the #6 MOOC of the Year for 2018 (in Agile Project Management: Applied Scrum, from the A. James Clark School of Engineering). PMI's Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs hailed the Agile PM Professional Certificate program as "innovative." In another milestone, UMD recently launched the world's first MicroMBA, a MOOC MicroMasters with edX, through the Robert H. Smith School of Business. 

Over a decade, Bill led consumer insights to help launch two successful startups: a U.S. Top 250 web retail company (The Teaching Company), and a U.S. Top 500 (Poppin). In 2017, Poppin's co-founder, a venture capitalist, invited him back to launch a third startup: Bill's investor pitch deck contributions helped the team secure a successful funding round.

Most notably, Bill helped to build and sell (to private equity) The Teaching Company, publisher of The Great Courses, which democratized higher education through making the world’s most engaging scholars available to all internationally. He built the analytics team responsible for customer insights and for researching, modeling, developing, and green-lighting new products, leading the company to a record number of bestsellers and launching the company’s first mass market crossover course - its best seller of all time and the first of a string. He green-lighted Superstring Theory, a course by University of Maryland Professor and National Medal of Science recipient S. James Gates, Jr.  Bill also researched and green-lighted the release of Big History, which customer Bill Gates developed with pioneer Professor David Christian and Sal Khan (Khan Academy) into The Big History Project, an interdisciplinary open online course series teaching history through a scientific lens. Big History recently made its formal MOOC debut on Coursera’s platform, bringing Bill’s work full circle.

Prior to The Great Courses, Bill conducted innovative market research to grow American Red Cross’s domestic and international programs, and he served as Confidential Aide to United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.