Lehigh University alumnus teams up with top-tier colleges to create online programs


2U Inc. partners with elite universities to create online education programs. Andrew Hermalyn, ‘€˜10, is the executive vice president of 2U. | Photo courtesy of Newsdice.com

Andrew Hermalyn, a 2010 Lehigh University graduate, is currently the executive vice president and general manager of 2U Inc., an innovative company that partners with top-tier colleges and universities to create online programs.

In 2008, the summer before his junior year at Lehigh, Hermalyn helped launch the company. Hermalyn started his career at 2U — a company that was once made up of just six motivated individuals.

2U has grown to 700 employees and as of Dec. 31, 2013, 8,600 students were enrolled in 2U partner programs. The company went public this February.

Hermalyn was always motivated to be a businessman. He entered Lehigh as a business major and enrolled in the College of Business and Economics, believing it was a good place to start. Throughout his educational career, Hermalyn began to take advantage of his ability to enroll in a variety of liberal arts courses to balance his business curriculum. Sure enough, his passion began to point him in a different direction.

“Part of the reason why I loved Lehigh was my ability to take courses in different areas outside of my regular business courses,” Hermalyn said. “I took courses that I knew would take me out of my comfort zone. These classes taught me how to make a cohesive argument, stand by my opinion and defend that argument or opinion.”

He said taking liberal arts classes gave him the ability to enjoy reading literature and to participate in intense discussions. After remaining in the CBE for a year and a half, Hermalyn transferred to the College of Arts and Sciences and decided to pursue a degree in sociology.

“I switched to the College of Arts and Sciences during my sophomore year and it was one of the best decisions I made,” he said. “Sociology is all about people and how they behave. My sociology degree taught me how to think broadly and conceptually and was a great base to overlay more specific knowledge relative to business.”

As a sociology major, Hermalyn said he felt he was getting more out of his education by learning about an academic area that he may not be able to explore after college. He knew he would always have his background in business and would get real-life experience once he started working after graduation.

He credited his interest in reading to Greg Reihman, a professor in the department of philosophy at Lehigh.

“I had never taken a philosophy course before and thought I would give it a try,” he said. “I took Professor Reihman’s intro course and loved it. It taught me how to think broadly and conceptually and reminded me of how fun reading can be.”

Reihman spoke positively about Hermalyn and his success with 2U.

“It’s been great watching him pursue a useful passion: recreating in an online environment the kind of learning experience he had in face-to-face classes at Lehigh,” he said. “Many people in higher education are thinking about the role online education will play in our future, and it’s good to know that someone like Andrew is playing a key role in keeping students at the center of the classroom and at the center of the conversation.”

Another Lehigh professor, Judith Lasker, a professor of sociology and anthropology, was Hermalyn’s advisor during his last few years at Lehigh. He said she helped him transition his passion into his sociology studies.

“Andrew started Lehigh in the business college and decided that since he expected to be in business for much of his life, he would benefit most from college by studying other fields that would give him great insight into society and skills for understanding how it works,” Lasker said. “He chose sociology and continues to credit it with helping him to be successful at 2U. I enjoy following Andrew’s career. He was a terrific, very thoughtful and creative student.”

Since 2008, Andrew has had the pleasure of watching 2U grow and develop.

“As we continue to grow, we will stay committed to strong outcomes in our programs,” Hermalyn said.

After six years of working with 2U — two while attending Lehigh and four after graduation — Andrew continues to love what he is doing including the people, passion and mission.

“I believe and am passionate about the work we are doing,” he said. “I love and enjoy it and wake up each day with a smile.”

Story by Brown and White lifestyle writer Rachel Rodden ’15.

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