What The Heck Is Apple University? (AAPL)

Apple is hiring Joel Podolny, the dean of Yale’s business school, to start something called “Apple University,” the WSJ reports.

The company declined to provide details about the university or the position.

Mr. Podolny will be stepping down as dean on Nov. 1, but will stay at Yale until year end, a spokeswoman for Yale said. She said Mr. Podolny will take up his new position in early 2009.

Corporate universities, which typically offer classes to employees, have been introduced elsewhere. One of the earliest and best known is McDonald’s Corp.’s Hamburger University, where thousands of employees attend classes each year.

Pixar Animation Studios — whose largest shareholder was Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs before the studio was sold to Walt Disney Co. in 2006 — has a program that it calls Pixar University, where it conducts three-month-long classes for new and existing animators.

So what is it? It makes sense that Apple might want a formal training centre for people who are going to sell Apple products — like Apple Store employees, especially as Apple grows its retail business internationally. Or Best Buy (BBY) Apple experts. But does it really need the dean of Yale’s business school for something like that? (Then again, not like Steve Jobs has ever cut corners…)

Another possibility: A top-notch training centre for iPhone and OS X programmers. Or IT administrators. But that seems like overkill, too. (Less likely: A convenient way to boost its own sagging educational sales?)

Any ideas? Know more? Let us know in comments, via email to [email protected], or via our anonymous tips box.

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