SOFTWARE: University in a Box

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Science  08 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5485, pp. 1647
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5485.1647c

Ever wonder what it's like to be president of a university? Find out by playing Virtual U, a video game developed with $1 million from the Sloan Foundation that simulates the headaches of running a college or research university. The game first instructs you to, say, raise minority enrollment or research performance. You must then make the budget decisions needed to meet the goal—from cutting salaries to raising tuition. You then find out if the trustees approve or throw you out on your ear.

The graphics give the game a Sim City-like feel, but it's essentially about budgets—a topic only true wonks could love. Still, the former professors who developed Virtual U hope it will prove useful for real-life administrators. The software costs $60 to $130; a demo can be downloaded for free.

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