Two weeks ago, I presented a list of 10 expectations, predictions and suggestions relating to higher education that have received extensive media coverage in recent months. A week ago, in Part 2 of this topic, I selected three related topics from that list, and offered an opinion about what higher education can do to address them, and what is beyond our capabilities.
This week, I’d like to select another three items from my original list of 10 for more detailed analysis and comment. These include items number 3, 4 and 6. They are, respectively:
Higher education is hidebound;
Higher education is going broke; and
Large numbers of colleges will go out of business – unless…
Well, is higher education hidebound? Are we hopelessly mired in the past, unwilling to examine, let alone adopt, new ways of thinking about teaching and learning?
Last week I complained about unreasonable expectations being placed on colleges and universities. I rather quickly assembled a list of 10 such issues (there are actually a few more), and I indicated that in Part 2 of this topic, I would offer an opinion about what higher education can (and should) do – and what is simply beyond our capacity to correct.
I’d like to start with three related issues that represent numbers 1, 2 and 7 in my list from last week:
More low-income students need to be admitted at top private schools;
The pipeline to college must be widened; and
It’s all about college completion rates.
On January 16, President Obama convened more than 100 higher education officials (most of whom were either the presidents of elite colleges or heads of community colleges or public university systems) to seek commitments on four areas of concern:
It’s an interesting time to be a university president. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t raise a new expectation of what universities can or should be doing. Often, this expectation comes in the form of criticism. Sometimes, it arrives as a recommendation about improving a process.
Taken collectively, the various tasks and expectations now being dropped on higher education administrators are often highly unrealistic, frequently mutually exclusive, and ultimately are doomed to fail.
It’s time for a little straight talk. Let me start by acknowledging two things.
First, higher education in the United States has, at least for the last 150 years, been more responsible than any other component of our society for the American success story – both as a country and as the ladder to individual prosperity and accomplishment. We should therefore be wary of radical changes to a proven track record.
Last month, voting members of the American Studies Association passed a resolution calling for colleges in the United States to boycott Israeli universities. In the weeks since, that measure has been discussed, debated and reported on widely.
On Monday, Jan. 6, President Farish and Provost Workman shared the following message with the Roger Williams University community, outlining the University’s position on the boycott:
In December, the nearly 5,000 members of the American Studies Association were asked to vote on a resolution calling for U.S. universities to boycott Israeli universities, based on a request for such a boycott by Palestinian academics. Just over 1,250 ASA members voted, and those voting supported the resolution by a two to one margin.