Some Great Minds
Where is higher education headed? The following essays present a range of perspectives designed to engage, inspire, and challenge campus leaders.
Edited by Carole Schweitzer
The United States has "two types of college education that are in conflict with each other," says Gerhard Casper, senior fellow at Stanford University and the institution's president emeritus. Speaking in Jerusalem at a May 2010 curriculum workshop, he described the contrast. One is "the classic liberal-arts model—four years of relative tranquility in which students are free to roam through disciplines, great thoughts, and great works with endless options and not much of a rationale." The second is more practical, he explained: "A college degree is expected to lead to a job, or at least to admission to a graduate or a professional school."
Casper said he worries that universities will be diverted from basic research by the lure of new development monies offered by the marketplace and that they will shift to "ever greater emphasis on direct usefulness," which might mean less funding and attention to the arts and the humanities.
At the same time, all-time-high student debt makes a curriculum with "direct usefulness" quite appealing to a growing number of students and parents who want a college degree to mean an adequately paid professional career.
Here are thoughts from higher education leaders on all sides of the discussion in considering the future.
- Higher Education and the World of Tomorrow
- A New Economics for Excellence
- Is America Ready for Community Colleges to Lead the Way?
- When Modifications Are a Must
- A New Normal—Sew What?
CAROLE SCHWEITZER is senior editor of Business Officer at NACUBO.