R SPECIAL ISSUE
THE BIG PICTURE Assessing the Future of Higher Education
Winter 2014 c a r n e g i e corporation o f n e w y o r k vol. 7/no. 3 American Higher Education: An Obligation to the Future
by Va rta n G r e g o r i a n, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York
In recent years, there The specifics are indeed eye-opening. They reveal that has been a debate raging over the long-term, humanities graduates actually fare better among policymakers, than their peers who are focused on particular professional students, educators, con- fields. Upon graduating from college, those who majored in cerned parents, and many the humanities and social science made, on average, $26,271 others about the purpose in 2010 and 2011, slightly more than those in science and of higher education: is mathematics but less than those in engineering and in profes- it meant to help develop sional and pre-professional fields. However, by their peak an inquiring mind and a earning age of 56 to 60, these individuals earned $66,185, deep appreciation for the putting them about $2,000 ahead of professional and pre- value of how knowledge professional majors in the same age bracket.2 Further, em- enriches one’s lifelong ployers want to hire men and women who have the ability to personal and professional think and act based on deep, wide-ranging knowledge. For achievements or should example, the report finds that 93 percent of employers agree it be simply focused on that candidates’ demonstrated capacity to think critically, gaining the skills to pur- communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more sue a well-paying career? important than their undergraduate major, and 55 percent PHOTO BY MICHAEL FALCO In other words, we seem said that what they wanted from potential employees was to have divided higher education into a black-and-white sce- both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range nario in which either an individual becomes a sort of pie-in- the-sky dreamer, well-read and able to quote great thinkers but probably starving in a garret while unable to get a decent job, or Students do not have to make else he or she graduates from college and immediately plunges artificial choices between into the world of technologically complex, high-stakes, high- financial-reward work and becomes a “great success.” what they want to know Perhaps the time has come to reconsider that either-or proposition about higher education. The issue is too complex about the world and the skills to be addressed in such a simplified manner. For example, as a new study1 from the Association of American Colleges and they need to succeed in it. Universities (AACU) reports, “Students, parents, and poli- cymakers interested in the ‘return on investment’ of college of knowledge and skills. Even more evidence of hiring man- education [often assume] that a major in a liberal arts field agers’ interest in richly educated individuals is the finding has a negative effect on employment prospects and earnings that four out of five employers agree that all students should potential.” But the AACU study makes clear there is com- acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.3 pelling evidence that a liberal arts degree continues to be All this is heartening news in that it reminds us that the a sound investment, especially in these difficult economic current generation of students—and those who follow after times. The facts show that compared to students who major them—do not have to make artificial choices between what in professional, preprofessional, or STEM fields, liberal arts they want to know about the world and the skills they need to majors fare very well in terms of both earnings and long- succeed in it. But there are some who are still not persuaded term career success. (Continued on page 83)
1 How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths, by Debra Humphries and Patrick Kelly, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. 2 “Humanities Majors Don’t Fare As Badly As Portrayed, New Earnings Report Says,” HuffPost College, January 23, 2014. 3 Op. cit. How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment. Winter 2014 c a r n e g i e corporation o f n e w y o r k vol. 7/no. 3
R S P ecial iSSue
2 The Soul of the University, by Nicholas Lemann The Big PicTure The Big Picture 7 Paying for Higher Education and Research, by Don M. Randel Assessing the Future of Higher Education Assessing the Future of Higher Education
12 A New Strategy to Maintain America’s Position of Global Preeminence, Winter 2014 c a r n e g i e corporation o f n e w y o r k vol. 7/no. 3 by Robert Birgeneau
14 Never Eat Your Seed Corn, by Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.
16 For What It’s Worth, by Amy Gutmann
22 Better, More Affordable Colleges Start Online, by L. Rafael Reif 24 Recognizing the Real and the Potential: Fields Medal for Mathematical Efforts 25 American Academia’s Nobel History
33 The Real Crisis in Higher Education, by John L. Hennessy
35 The Liberal Arts and Presidential Leadership, by Nannerl O. Keohane
40 Can We Meet the Challenge? by Mary Sue Coleman
42 Are Our Colleges and Universities Failing Us? by John Etchemendy
57 Research Universities: American Exceptionalism? by Henry Rosovsky
62 A 21st Century Education: What Do Students Need to Know? by Richard Ekman
65 Research Universities Power U.S. Innovation and Prosperity, by Phyllis Wise
68 Higher Education in a Global, Digital Information Economy, by Arthur Levine 73 Fault Lines in the Compact: Higher Education and the Public Interest in the U.S., by Ronald J. Daniels, Phillip M. Spector, and Rebecca Goetz
Note: The online version of this magazine can be found at higheredreporter.carnegie.org/
About This Issue
For the past two years, Carnegie Corpora- challenges and opportunities of the 21st cen- of the Carnegie Reporter, which is devoted tion and TIME Magazine have co-hosted a tury. Leaders from higher education, state to articles, speeches and essays by some of summit on higher education. In the fall of and federal government, philanthropy, and America’s top educators whose opinions and 2013, the focus of the gathering was on the business discussed and debated the future points of view address aspects of higher edu- American university as a driver of research of America’s great research universities and cation that continue to concern us all. and education for the nation, threats to the related issues affecting higher education. To university’s continued excellence, and ideas continue and expand those discussions, the E l e a n o r L e r m a n , Director, Public for innovation and reinvention to meet the Corporation is presenting this special issue Affairs and Publications
Cover photo © Peathegee Inc/Blend Images/Corbis by Nicholas Lemann, Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus, Columbia Journalism School
The Soul of the UNIVERSITY R The two most important develop- states the importance of the research- rest of the world has to operate. Some ments in American higher education in university model, because the core of of their work is subsidized directly, by the twentieth century were, arguably, the faculty and senior administration at the federal government and by private contradictory. First, building on the hundreds more higher education insti- donors, but they also live under the foundation laid by the Morrill Act of tutions hold doctoral degrees and oper- economic protection that very large and 1862, which gave federal land to states ate within the academic tenure system successful institutions can provide to to create colleges that taught “agricul- that lies at the heart of the way research some of their component parts. ture and the mechanic arts,” we created universities are run. I have an immigrant’s perspective the world’s first mass higher education For many people who have spent on higher education, having spent most system. When the Carnegie Corporation their lives working in higher education, of my adult life working for news or- was founded, fewer than 3 percent of mass higher education and research uni- ganizations and then, through a series Americans between the ages of 18 versities make for a perfect fit: together of happy accidents, having become a and 24 were students in institutions of they express both the public service and dean at a major research university in higher education. About 350,000 young the intellectual ambitions of educators. middle age. No matter how much you Americans were enrolled in fewer than And during most of the twentieth cen- think you understand how central re- 1,000 institutions of higher education. tury, especially the years between 1950 search is to the university, you can’t A hundred years later, more than 35 and 1975, the two big ideas grew and truly feel its centrality until you have percent of 18-to-24-year-olds are en- flourished in tandem. But they aren’t experienced university life from the in- rolled, and about two-thirds of high the same idea. Mass higher education, side, at a fairly high level. Of the many school graduates immediately go on to conceptually, is practical, low-cost, stakeholder groups in higher education, get more education. The United States skills-oriented, and mainly concerned the most powerful, at least at research has 20 million students in 4,500 institu- with teaching. It caught on because universities, is the tenured faculty, and tions of higher education. state legislatures and businesses saw it the ticket for admission to that group is Second, building on the founda- as a means of economic development first-rate research. Very-high-achieving tion laid by the establishment of Johns and a supplier of personnel, and be- people who have devoted the main en- Hopkins University in 1876, American cause families saw it as a way of en- ergies of their careers to research, and higher education has embraced the suring a place in the middle class for who use evaluations of research qual- idea of the research university as its their children. Research universities, ity to perform ongoing, fairly merciless most cherished aspiration. Today there on the other hand, grant extraordinary evaluations of their peers and would- are about 300 American universities freedom and empowerment to a small, be peers, will naturally see research as that confer doctoral degrees, far more elaborately trained and selected group the central activity of their institutions. than the original proselytizers for im- of people whose mission is to pursue Research is a major income generator porting the research-university model knowledge and understanding without for the top universities. Research is from Germany to the United States the constraints of immediate practical central to the immensely appealing envisioned. And this number under- applicability under which most of the conception of the university as an au-
2 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 tonomous institution with the freedom it: those who don’t work in higher edu- will always try to bend it to their own to make its own rules. cation usually see it as a crisis of high purposes, devoted to knowledge as an It’s also the case that university cost and impracticality, and those who end in itself. “Here are two methods of leaders, when speaking to the nonuni- do work in higher education usually see Education;” he wrote. “The end of the versity world, rarely present research it as a crisis of insufficient resources. one is to be philosophical, or the other as the clear central purpose of the uni- An unschooled observer who wandered to be mechanical; the one rises toward versity. Tens of millions of Americans into the conference might leave feeling general ideas, the other is exhausted have a direct connection to higher edu- impressed with many of the specific upon what is particular and external…. cation, and probably only a tiny minor- ideas she heard, but confused about Knowledge, in proportion as it tends to ity of them are even familiar with the what the overall situation is. be more and more particular, ceases to term “research university.” So universi- The Ur-text about higher educa- be Knowledge.” ties themselves have contributed to the tion, at least for educators, is The lack of public understanding of the cen- Idea of a University, by John Henry trality of research. Newman. It is an odd choice: it’s a dis- At the Higher Education Summit jointed, incomplete series of lectures At the Higher that Carnegie Corporation of New York from the 1850s, mainly devoted to an and TIME magazine co-sponsored in issue nobody worries about much any Education Summit September 2013, the disconnect be- more (the independence of universi- tween the views of the research uni- ties from organized religion), and it that Carnegie versity from inside and outside was is explicitly opposed to the research- Corporation of vividly on display. A procession of university ideal, which was beginning highly distinguished leaders of higher to emerge at the time. Newman was New York and education mainly emphasized the need making a case, essentially, for Oxford to protect—in particular, to fund ad- as University in the early nineteenth TIME magazine equately—the university’s research century: a university for aristocrats and co-sponsored in mission. A procession of equally dis- scholars, unscientific, undemocratic, tinguished outsiders, including the U.S. highly personalized, gloriously imprac- September 2013, the secretary of education, mainly empha- tical. And yet such eminent twentieth- sized the need to make higher education century writers on higher education disconnect between the more cost-effective for its students and as Alfred North Whitehead, Abraham their families, which almost inevita- Flexner, and Clark Kerr all demon- views of the research bly entails twisting the dial away from strated in their writings a deep debt to university from inside research and toward the emphasis on Newman. In 1992 the distinguished skills instruction that characterizes the historian Jaroslav Pelikan published a and outside was mass higher education model. TIME’s book called The Idea of a University: A own cover story that followed from the Reexamination, which is a lecture-by- vividly on display. conference hardly mentioned research lecture update of Newman. (it was mainly about how much eco- Why is Newman so enduringly Abraham Flexner’s Universities: nomically useful material students are appealing? Part of the reason is that, American English German, published learning), even though the research uni- because universities are so large and in 1930 in a mood of celebration of the versity was explicitly the main focus of do so many different things, very successful importation of the German the conference. At the conference itself, few people have been able succinctly research university model to the United there was a lot of talk about maintain- and persuasively to state their cen- States over the preceding generation, ing American “competitiveness” in tral purpose. Part is Newman’s wise begins with a tribute to Newman, but the global economy as the main justi- and elegant writing style. And part is dramatically departs from the territory fication for the university’s research Newman’s core idea that the univer- Newman delineated for the university. mission—and the idea of a crisis was sity should be a self-governing institu- Flexner’s ideal university was deeply pervasive. But how the crisis was de- tion, set apart and protected from the engaged with the world, especially fined depended on who was defining other main institutions of society that through the new social sciences. What
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 3 Newman meant when he used the term technical, vocational, nor popular edu- writing as intellectuals who were also knowledge was the accumulation, not cation. Of course, these are important; administrators. In Kerr’s case, he of information and skill, but of under- of course, society must create appro- was, as president of the University of standing and perspective. Flexner’s priate agencies to deal with them; but California, chief administrator of the ideal was the similar-sounding but ac- they must not be permitted to distract world’s largest higher-education insti- tually quite different “advancement of the university.” Flexner disapproved, tution, and he was well aware that the knowledge,” for which he imagined for example, of research universities compatibility he saw between the two substantial outside-world applica- being home to any form of professional dominant university missions needed, tions. That and “solution of problems,” education except in law and medicine, at the very least, some minding. Kerr he wrote, he considered to be “inter- including business schools, journalism wrote that there were only 20 true re- changeable phrases.” Universities were schools, schools of education, and de- search universities in the United States, nominational divinity schools. That is and he didn’t complain that that was why, even for him, Newman served as too few. In California, the state col- a valuable anchor to windward. leges were constantly lobbying the Flexner was aware Clark Kerr delivered the Godkin state legislature to be upgraded to the Lectures at Harvard half a century alluring status of universities. Kerr’s of the peril that ago, in the spring of 1963, during response to this was to persuade the what looks in retrospect like the his- legislature to pass a sweeping master universities might be torical high-water mark of American plan for higher education, built around put at the service of optimism. That mood pervades the lec- a grand bargain between the two mod- tures. Kerr gave the book version of the els: on the democratizing side, every- every outside entity lectures a title that explicitly echoes, one in California would have the right but also rejects, Newman: The Uses of to a tuition-free higher education, and and social need. the University. (Newman didn’t want on the research side, nobody in the vast universities to have uses.) The book system except a handful of elite, well- uniquely well suited to make the world has been through a series of new edi- funded universities would be permitted a better place. tions over the years, and it still stands to offer doctoral programs. But Flexner was aware that in as about the best concise, coherent, Kerr’s historic achievement began proposing that universities have a far nonbloviating explanation of what an unraveling almost immediately. In the more utilitarian mission than the one American university is supposed to short run, the Free Speech Movement Newman had in mind, he was entering be. Kerr shared with Newman a pas- protests at Berkeley, which came the a realm of potential peril: universities sion for the university as an indepen- year after the Godkin Lectures, un- might be turned into entirely practi- dent, almost magically self-contained pleasantly surprised him. The elec- cal institutions, put at the immediate institution, and he shared with Flexner tion of Ronald Reagan as governor service of every outside entity and so- a devotion to the research-university of California in 1966, partly because cial need. “A university should not be ideal. But he was willing to go much Reagan had tapped into the public’s a weather vane, responsive to every further than Flexner in suggesting that resentment of the student protests, was variation of popular whim,” he wrote. the university could safely take on a another surprise. And shortly after tak- “Universities must at times give soci- wide range of educational and social ing office, Reagan arranged for Kerr to ety, not what society wants, but what it missions—hence the term he coined be fired. In the longer run, both of the needs. Inertia and resistance have their for it, the “multiversity.” After delin- key elements of the master plan were uses, provided they be based on reason- eating how conceptually different the abrogated. The California state col- able analysis, on a sense of values, not mass higher education and research- lege system is now the California state on mere habit.” Flexner was especially university ideas were, Kerr confidently university system, and public higher skeptical of universities undertaking to asserted that they had “turned out to education in California has not been teach their students anything practical: be more compatible than might at tuition-free for decades. It is still an “The pursuit of science and scholarship first appear.” outstanding system, but not quite so belongs to the university. What else Flexner was writing as an intel- paradisaical or conceptually neat as belongs? Assuredly neither secondary, lectual; Newman and Kerr were both Kerr believed it could be.
4 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 The crisis in higher education, it not of universities gold-plating their plans, job security, and so on) that are should be noted, is not like the 2008 fi- operations. Fourth, for each individual disappearing in private companies, and nancial crisis, or the crisis in the big-city American family, obtaining college and much of the substantial recent increase newspaper business that many journal- university degrees continues to be the in the number of administrators has to ists like to use as a point of comparison one thing most likely to improve its do with some admirable additional mis- when discussing higher education. It children’s economic fortunes. Still the sions (community outreach, faculty is more prospective than actual; col- sense that something fundamental may diversity, environmental stewardship, leges and universities aren’t going out be changing in the economic compact student counseling) that the university of business en masse, or even, across between higher education and the pub- has taken on. The more fortunate uni- the board, significantly curtailing their lic is palpable. versities have substantial endowments, operations. Because higher education is Why is this? The overall statisti- but as nonprofits they aren’t supposed expected to do so many things—teach cal economic case for higher educa- to manage themselves such that income everything from prison administration tion is at war with a widespread fear far exceeds expense, so they operate on to philosophy, operate winning sports that membership in the middle class is very slim cash margins. programs, provide in-person manage- getting harder and harder for the rising Underlying all of this, though, is ment of the transition from adolescence generation to achieve—especially for the fundamental problem of the coun- to adulthood, make local economies those who study the humanities or the try’s having adopted two noncongru- prosper, be direct providers of medical nonquantitative social sciences in col- ent ideals of higher education at the care, and on and on—it can’t possibly lege. The idea that any family resources same time. With only a few exceptions, do all of them at peak efficiency all devoted to higher education will pay like the National Science Foundation, the time. The word “crisis,” denoting a off economically may be going the way most of the stakeholders that provide wide variety of specific problems, has of the idea that all single-family homes resources to universities—includ- appeared consistently in discussions of will rise in value every year. In the ing parents, students, alumni donors, higher education, even when, in retro- nonacademic world, technological ad- legislatures, businesses, and founda- spect, higher education was not in crisis. vances have made many products and tions—believe what they are paying for What seems to be at the core of services cheaper. It seems impossible is skills-conferring, teaching-centric today’s perception of crisis is cost. that the same can’t be true in higher institutions. And most of the senior Tuition, especially at research uni- education—especially with the advent leadership of universities believes that versities, has risen more rapidly than of online courses. their institutions’ core mission is re- inflation for many years. The price of On the other side of the transac- search. Presidents and provosts know anything is, ultimately, what people tion, it is very difficult for institutions that raising the research status of their are willing to pay for it, and there is of higher education, especially research university is what would make their a sense among both educators and the universities, to reduce their costs. The peers judge them as successful. Faculty public that the wonderfully (from the “cost disease” in talent-based organiza- members know that the quality of their universities’ point of view) inelastic de- tions that offer in-person services, which research is the prime determinant of the mand of recent decades may have run William Baumol identified back in the course of their careers. its course. To say this requires a series 1960s, means that universities have to Research is expensive. In the sci- of immediate caveats. First, at private keep paying their professors more with- ences it requires laboratories. In all colleges and universities the stated tu- out getting productivity increases in fields it drives teaching loads down, and ition is frequently abated by scholar- return. Competing for faculty members therefore payrolls up. The intellectual ship aid and discounting, and shouldn’t (often in the hope of getting research model it implies pushes the better col- be understood as what people actually money as a payoff) is expensive, and leges and universities to operate doz- pay. Second, the scary statistics you see so is competing for students by offer- ens of academic departments, some of about student debt are usually cherry- ing them more and more amenities. As them lightly populated by students. The picked to produce numbers that over- nonprofit, large, complex institutions, research university model is designed state the national per-student average. universities wind up shouldering costly to make it difficult for schools to react Third, increased costs at public univer- social burdens. Most of them still main- in real time to changes in conditions, in sities are substantially the result of sig- tain the kind of benefits for employees the way that for-profit businesses try to nificant cuts in state legislative funding, (retirement accounts, generous health do. If there is an imperative to reduce
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 5 costs, research universities are not built “Our Classrooms are Newsrooms.”) enly contemplation, so intimate is it to respond to it naturally and swiftly. Why would you want to be taught by with the eternal order of things and One can say, and be partly right, professors who devote a substantial the music of the spheres.” that better communication about re- part of their time to writing projects, This may sound luxurious, and it is. search could lessen the cost pressure. instead of working professionals whose It may also sound impractical, but it’s Presidents, provosts, and deans, as they only role at the university is to teach? not. (What can be impractical is using incessantly bustle about from event Why shouldn’t the curriculum be de- one’s time at a university to acquire to event, face a constant temptation voted to imparting the most up-to-the- skills that may turn out to be valuable to deal with each constituency group minute skills, the ones that will have only for a short time.) To be able to on the level at which it interacts with most value in the employment market? come closer than most people can to the university. Why talk to the athletic Embedded in those questions is a view seeing things deeply and as they really boosters about the classics department, that a high-quality apprenticeship under are is an enormous advantage in life, in- or try to sell the business council on an attentive mentor, instead of a univer- cluding in a career. One can get mean- tenure, or tell students that it’s not re- sity education, would represent no loss, ingfully closer to this state by studying ally in their interest to have faculty and possibly an improvement. literature or theology, if they are taught members who do nothing but teach? Universities are just about the only properly, as well as by studying com- As no one can fail to have noticed, it institutions that are set up to transcend puter science and economics. Faculty is possible on the very rare occasions the limits of time, location, and imme- who are deeply engaged in intellectual when the whole university community diate circumstance that constrain just production will be far better at getting gathers, like commencement ceremo- about all workplaces. If they take full their students there than faculty who nies, for the senior leadership to power advantage of that, they can impart to see their mission as conferring a set of through by delivering a series of inof- the mind an ability to achieve dispas- specific skills or facts. When university fensive bromides. This is a temptation sionate distance, to assess, to contex- leaders, in making the case for the re- to be resisted. The research-university tualize, to connect—as John Henry search university, emphasize its practi- model will be subjected to increasing Newman put it, “a power of judging of cal utility because they believe that will challenges, and university leaders have passing events, and of all events, and a be the only persuasive argument, they a responsibility to talk more openly conscious superiority over them, which are leaving an important part of their to the public about the centrality of before it did not possess.” Universities mission undone. research to the university mission. can bring the world from two dimen- If things proceed on the course Ideally, when they do so, they should sions into three. I can’t resist quoting they seem to be on now and cost re- not confine their sales pitch only to the Newman again, at some length: ally is a big problem, then universi- most obviously beneficial products of “That perfection of the Intellect, ties will change—and the universities university research—silicon chips and which is the result of Education, whose supporters are the most price vaccines and so on—but also to the and its beau ideal, to be imparted to sensitive are the ones that will change more essential and also more difficult individuals in their respective mea- the most. Many of them will change idea of the university as a realm not en- sures, is the clear, calm, accurate not through any orderly and planned tirely devoted to what seems at the mo- vision and comprehension of all process, but through budget-cutting ment to be most practical. things, as far as the finite mind can exercises that financial necessity has Having spent the last 10 years as embrace them, each in its place, imposed on them. And it’s obvious dean of a journalism school, in one of and with its own characteristics what the direction of these changes will the more skills-oriented domains in upon it. It is almost prophetic from be: away from the research-university higher education, I am familiar with the its knowledge of history; it is almost idea, toward the “mechanic arts.” There arguments against keeping the univer- heart-searching from its knowledge will be fewer humanities departments, sity at a distance from the rest of the of human nature; it has almost su- fewer doctoral programs, a smaller pro- world. Why wouldn’t you want to make pernatural charity from its freedom portion of faculty who do research and the university resemble the professional from littleness and prejudice; it has have tenure, less individual instruction, workplace as closely as possible? (One almost the repose of faith, because less campus residency by students, of the leading American journalism nothing can startle it; it has almost curricula canted toward job skills—in schools uses the advertising slogan, the beauty and harmony of heav- (Continued on page 81)
6 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 by Don M. Randel, President Emeritus, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Chicago
Paying for Higher Education and RESEARCH R Editor’s Note: This speech was originally delivered at the University of Göttingen on May 16th, 2013.
It is an honor to speak to you on ute to this collaboration and learning is private institution proved irresistible. the occasion of the tenth anniversary largely a set of negative examples that Another, engaged in a similar effort, of the University of Göttingen’s having other nations seem steadily tempted was simply fired. With ten years of suc- become a “Foundation under Public to emulate. I shall try very hard not to cessful experience, therefore, you have Law.”1 It is also, for someone from the sound too much like Cassandra. But much to teach us. What we have to United States, a serious responsibility. in describing for you the situation in teach you, on the other hand, is that one Our two countries share long and distin- the United States, I shall in consider- must guard against a certain drift that guished traditions of higher education able degree be describing perils to be has become fashionable on both sides and research at a moment in our his- avoided. tories when these traditions are being This celebration should, of course, challenged as never before but at a mo- be a happy occasion. And I can assure ment when the vigor of these traditions you that it will be viewed by many in the We cannot afford is more important than ever for the sake United States with very considerable not only of our own countries but for envy. I believe that I can confidently to make mistakes the sake of the world. Higher education assert that the presidents and chancel- and research in our two countries have lors of all of the leading public univer- in our support for been the underpinnings of freedom sities in the United States would give and prosperity previously unknown in a great deal to achieve precisely what higher education human history. Freedom and prosper- you have achieved here. Some have ity in the rest of the world depend in tried and lived to regret it because their and research considerable degree on the continued states, if not simply hostile to the inter- and so ought freedom and prosperity of ourselves ests of higher education, have insisted and our closest allies. Hence, we can- on retaining control while substantially to collaborate not afford to make serious mistakes in reducing the flow of resources. One our support for higher education and of the bravest of these presidents, in a and learn from research, and we ought therefore seri- rather public effort, came reasonably ously to collaborate and learn from one close to achieving a greater degree of one another in another in this domain. Unfortunately, independence, but political resistance what the United States has to contrib- was such that an offer to move to a this domain.
1 Note to the reader: Under this arrangement, the university is governed by a foundation that is independent of the State of Lower Saxony, of which the university was previously a public institution. This gives the university administrative independence and the right to acquire property and generate its own resources, though there are some restrictions. Most important, however, is that the State of Lower Saxony continues to provide essentially all of the revenue that it previously provided, which is a very substantial amount and which makes possible negligible fees to students. As in the U.S., much support for research in universities comes from the federal government, and unlike the U.S., much sponsored research is carried on in federally supported independent institutes.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 7 of the Atlantic and that could have so- of private philanthropy that is centuries the model employed in most developed cial and economic consequences that old and deeply rooted. This cannot be countries. As the revenue of the states we should all regret. created overnight. But perhaps even in the United States has dwindled, both I presume that we can all begin by more to the point is that Harvard, Yale, because of economic circumstances agreeing that higher education and re- Princeton, and Stanford are the only and because of the growing resistance search are important. But the difficul- truly wealthy universities in the United to taxation, however, fees charged to ties begin almost immediately as we States. All of the rest—all of the rest— students have steadily increased. In attempt to say what we mean by this and even they to some extent, are re- the leading public universities the fees simple proposition—higher educa- liant on student fees as the engine of (excluding the cost of food and hous- tion and research of what kind and for their economies. This has increasingly ing) may reach $12,000 per annum whom and at whose expense? These become the case as costs have risen for students from within the state in questions lead quite quickly to very and, in the public universities, as the question. For students from a differ- profound questions about the role of states have steadily reduced their sup- ent state or from abroad the fees may the state in society and about social port, especially since the financial cri- reach very nearly the equivalent of and economic disparities within and sis that began in 2008 and the effects of the fees charged at the leading private across societies. These deeper ques- which remain very much with us. institutions, or as much as $35,000 tions are too easily answered with In the U.S. almost two-thirds of per annum. ideological and political slogans that the 4,500 institutions of higher educa- At the University of Michigan in obscure real-world consequences and tion are private, and of these just over the fiscal year 2011, state appropria- hard evidence. 40 percent are for-profit. Although the tions accounted for only 6 percent of Since what is often described as majority of institutions are private, total revenue. At Berkeley, state ap- the U.S. model seems to be attracting the great majority of students, about propriations in 2012 accounted for more and more attention in Europe 70 percent, are enrolled in public in- 10.5 percent of total revenue, down and is now advancing steadily in the stitutions. All of this is in a context in over 50 percent since 2003. State ap- United Kingdom, let me give a bit of which the federal government (that is, propriations at Berkeley in this period an account of that model as it has ac- the state with a capital S as opposed went from being the largest of the four tually existed and as we are now in- to the individual states of the union) largest sources of funding (along with creasingly seeing its consequences in has essentially no policy with respect federal research funding, philanthropy, the United States. What has made the to higher education. The nation’s sec- and tuition) to being the smallest of U.S. model seem so attractive? It has retary of education has essentially no the four, while tuition in consequence produced some of the world’s greatest control over what kind of education grew to very nearly the equal of the universities and some of the research is offered and who pays for it. This is other two. This pressure to increase that has transformed the economies of all left to the fifty states and to their tuition generally has the anomalous ef- the United States and other developed counties and cities. The secretary of fect of encouraging public institutions and developing countries. So far so education does preside over a system to compete for students from states good. But the real attraction of the U.S. of financial aid for students who can other than their own, which they are model would appear to be the fact that demonstrate need, but the maximum allowed to charge much higher fees. A the state—that is, the taxpayer—has in grant in this scheme does not begin to student at the University of Michigan general not paid for it, and is steadily approach the price to a student of at- from outside the state of Michigan will paying for less and less of it. tending even a public four-year insti- be charged very nearly what it costs to The most naïve view of this so- tution, much less a private one. Apart go to Harvard, and such students now called model seems to be that European from that, the secretary of education make up over one-third of the total and other universities can simply de- has only a few carrots and no sticks. student population. It is as if the solu- clare themselves to be Harvard, Yale, The public institutions, then, are tion to the financing of public higher Princeton, or Stanford and generate supported by the fifty states, and his- education is for each state institution to private sources for their support rather torically this has meant charging stu- accept only students from other states. than continue to rely on support from dents relatively low fees and making What becomes of poor students in the state. It is not quite so simple. For up the difference with the full cost such a scheme? There is not enough a start, the United States has a tradition through taxation. This is essentially dedicated financial aid from either
8 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 federal or state sources to satisfy their no direct support for the educational each of thousands of institutions with need for it. Instead they must be in ef- side of the enterprise (as distinct from quite different resources of its own is fect subsidized by those students who partial support for certain types of re- left to engage in such practices on its are able to pay the very highest fees. search) from government and are sup- own is at a minimum incoherent and The result is that instead of letting a ported overwhelmingly through fees inefficient. And this system is a prin- system of taxation redistribute income charged to students and through philan- cipal cause of the complaint about the for the purpose of educating students thropy. The vast majority of the private rising “cost” of higher education, since from all economic backgrounds, each institutions are extremely dependent the public sees the advertised price of institution is left to carry out its own on student fees, with income from cur- education without taking full account internal redistribution of income from rent philanthropy and from endowment the rich to the poor. (that is, philanthropy extending back There is a further purely academic through the history of the institution) effect of the reduction in state support. totaling on average 20 percent of an- Although the Once state support reaches as low as 10 nual income. For the great majority the percent or lower, one might be tempted percentage is distinctly smaller. Thus, majority of U.S. to say that further cuts cannot possibly no one should suppose that in the U.S. matter very much. The trouble with model private philanthropy is cover- higher education this view is that there are many differ- ing more than a very modest share of ent colors of money flowing through the cost of higher education except in institutions are large universities, and they are not all a small handful of the wealthiest insti- fungible. One must first strip away tutions, and even they rely heavily on private, about from total revenue the revenues asso- student fees. ciated with federally funded research, At the leading private institutions, 70 percent the medical center if any, and all of the total nominal price to the student, of students are the revenues, including philanthropy, including room and board, may ex- that are restricted to purposes such as ceed $50,000 per annum. In a nation enrolled in the business school, the law school, in which median family income is it- the athletics programs, and a good self around $50,000, most of the nation public institutions. deal else. This makes state support simply cannot afford to pay this. But a much larger share of the pie that is very many do not pay it. As with pub- of the extent of the discounts that available to support the humanities and lic institutions, this system operates are applied. the arts, for example, which in general not by redistributing income through There is no time now to take up have negligible external support. This taxation at the level of the state so as the question of for-profit higher educa- is especially true if one thinks of the to make education affordable for the tion. Suffice it to say that in the United teaching of the humanities and the arts less well-to-do, but instead by charg- States, for-profit higher education de- to undergraduates. Tuition, of course, ing very high fees to those able to pends overwhelmingly on federal fi- becomes hugely more important in this afford them and redistributing that in- nancial aid, especially loans, provided sector of the pie as a result. Thus, what come internally to the extent possible. to students with need. The amount of might seem to be a modest decline in Virtually every private institution in ef- aid that these institutions consume is state support in the great scheme of fect discounts its student fees to some all out of proportion to the number of things can compel very serious reduc- greater or lesser degree. In very many students that they serve. And many, tions in support for the humanities and institutions, the income from student though not all, engage in outrageous the arts and some of the social sciences fees may be discounted on average by recruiting practices in order to attract and thus have a distorting effect on the as much as 50 percent. Wealthier stu- students who will bring with them academic principles that ought to shape dents thus subsidize poorer students, federal grant and loan funds and then the education that universities exist and in these institutions, some fraction leave with a mountain of debt and no to provide. of the student body is selected based degree and no job. What about private institutions on its ability to pay rather than entirely Higher education in the United in the U.S.? These receive essentially on academic merit. A system in which States, then, is in some ways its own
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 9 version of the Wild West. And it should families that are less well-to-do, to say I have not yet said anything about give serious pause to anyone who be- nothing of poor. Without some sort of research. Let me attempt to remedy that lieves that the markets are the solu- leveling mechanism that the market by briefly. Unlike most developed coun- tion to all of society’s problems. It is a its very nature will not provide, higher tries, including your own, the U.S. has system in which relentless competition education becomes increasingly the carried out research in its universities for resources and talent drives up costs province of the rich and in the pro- rather than in separate state-supported rather than the opposite. It produces cess denies a greater and greater part institutions. There is much to be said the anomalous result that some of the of the income distribution access to for this approach. In principle it al- very people who would like to solve the means by which they might im- lows a somewhat greater freedom to prove their lot. Such a system ends by the directions that research can take, exacerbating income inequality rather and it contributes to the formation of than ameliorating it and in the bargain a culture within universities that prizes Higher education impoverishes the nation’s competi- original inquiry and skepticism of re- tiveness as well as its intellectual and ceived opinion. This benefits everyone, in the U.S. is its cultural life. The market simply makes including undergraduates and the citi- things better for the people who can zens that they will become. These ben- own version of the pay for them and worse for those who efits are easily eroded, however, and cannot. This might be satisfactory for the U.S. model provides a number of Wild West, which consumer goods, but it is not satisfac- cautionary tales. tory for education at any level. The temptation is to believe that should give pause The ideological and political argu- the research function of the university, ments that have been advanced in de- rather like its educational function (a to those who think fense of this trend in higher education distinction that we should resist, how- markets are the are that those who benefit from educa- ever), can be privatized. Here I would tion should be the ones to pay for it, insist that the research function must solution to all namely, the students, and that the com- include a very substantial investment petition of the marketplace will both in the most basic research. But increas- societal problems. lower costs and increase quality. There ingly there is pressure to invest only is no hard evidence to support either in those scientific and technical fields society’s problems through increased proposition, and a good deal of hard that are imagined to be of near-term market discipline simultaneously wish evidence to the contrary. Absent some value to the economy in general and to to increase regulation and introduce form of subsidy, the poor will simply the universities themselves in purely fi- price controls in higher education. be unable to assemble the resources nancial terms. This often accompanies The simple fact is that the mar- necessary to pay for the full cost of a naïve belief that the private sector can ket has made higher education in the higher education of any quality, and be counted on to pay for research. The United States what it is, complete with unless every one of them becomes a experience of the United States coun- features that many wish to complain hedge-fund manager, they will not earn sels very strongly against such views. about, including certain kinds of facili- enough over a lifetime to amortize the Private sector support for research ties and staff that contribute to rising required initial debt if it were available. in U.S. universities has declined costs. This is all reinforced by various And in higher education, it has already steadily over decades and now ac- rankings of universities, most notably been demonstrated that the market- counts for only about 3 percent of the that of U.S. News & World Report, place does not reduce costs and that cost of that research. And it is increas- which give institutions incentives only it increases only disparities in qual- ingly tied to very near-term outcomes. to increase costs in the competition ity rather than higher quality across Simultaneously, the corporate sector for students and faculty. The result is the whole system. Much—though not has largely dismantled its own capacity a situation in which institutions must all—of the for-profit sector of higher to conduct basic research. The decline steadily increase competition for stu- education in the U.S. is quite simply of Bell Labs is only the most promi- dents from well-to-do families and scandalous and itself feeds overwhelm- nent and the saddest of such stories. attend less and less to students from ingly at the government trough. Pharmaceutical companies today are
10 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 following in those footsteps. And yet each bear the name of a generous donor. that would make it more like Harvard some of the most important scientific But rarely do the gifts cover the entire or Yale or Princeton or Stanford would discoveries of the modern age—dis- cost. The remainder is most often fi- be exceedingly difficult and perhaps coveries with enormous economic nanced through debt that must be amor- not ultimately possible in its economic consequences—were made in the pur- tized with unrestricted funds, the largest and political environment. suit of science for its own sake. Work component of which is—you guessed I congratulate the University of at Bell Labs produced the transistor, it—undergraduate tuition. Göttingen and the State of Lower the laser, and fundamental advances If this talk of the situation of higher Saxony on the partnership they have in computer programming. But de- education and research in the United created and sustained now for ten spite such extraordinary benefits from States has been rather gloomy in its own long-term investments in science, the terms, I hope that it may serve to cheer corporate world has been unable and you up about the situation that you unwilling to continue them. have created and maintained here at the Federal government Meanwhile, federal government University of Göttingen. The first and support for research in science is again crucial component of it is a continuing support for stagnating in real terms and is not im- partnership between the University and mune from the pressure to produce near- the State of Lower Saxony. The admin- research in science term economic benefits. One result has istrative and financial independence that been an increasing subsidy to federal has been achieved for the University is again stagnating sponsorship of research from universi- can contribute to meaningful efficiency. ties themselves, both public and private, But no one should suppose, if the expe- in real terms and for the federal government in no sense rience of the U.S. is any guide, that it pays the full costs of the research that it can lead to a thorough privatization of is not immune from sponsors. Who then does ultimately pay all of the University’s functions without the pressure to the difference? Since virtually every serious damage to the quality of its aca- university is heavily dependent on the demic undertakings and to a withdrawal produce near-term tuition and fees paid by undergraduates, from a commitment to education as the it is perfectly clear that the scientific en- right of all students of ability without economic benefits. terprise is being more or less covertly regard to their socioeconomic circum- subsidized by undergraduates. Now, I stances. A university as distinguished as One result has would absolutely insist that undergrad- the University of Göttingen will enjoy a uates benefit enormously from studying considerable advantage over many oth- been an increasing in an environment in which scientific ers in attracting private support and stu- research is pursued at the highest level. dents with the ability to pay high fees subsidy to federal But it makes no sense to insist that uni- if it should come to that. It along with versity education costs too much while a few others might well continue to sponsorship of letting those costs be driven in signifi- thrive if the path of the U.S. model were cant degree by a subsidy to scientific to be followed to a significant degree, research from research that is nominally sponsored by just as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the federal government. This is a sub- Stanford have remained and are sure universities. ject about which university and govern- to remain among the world’s greatest ment officials do not like to speak out universities. But what about the rest? years. Long may it thrive. This will re- loud. On this topic I should say, too, As a system for a whole nation that ex- quire only the continued commitment that private philanthropy plays an enor- pects to continue to prosper and lead, it of both parties and vigilance with re- mous role especially in contributing to is not sustainable in any farsighted way spect to pressures for certain kinds of the costs of the physical infrastructure and, I would say, in any just way. Even change that elsewhere have proved un- that is necessary for modern research. for a single great university like the fortunate. I dare to hope that some U.S. Very many gleaming new buildings University of Göttingen, the transfor- universities and their states will profit costing hundreds of millions of dollars mation from the present system to one from your example. ■
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 11 by Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley
A New Strategy to Maintain AMERICA’S POSITION of Global Preeminence The nation needs to establish a national challenge grant program for innovation and reframe the role of research universities. R American research and teaching sition as worldwide leaders. The inter- U.S. universities has plummeted—at universities have been the envy of the connected economies of most nations the University of California, Berkeley, world for six decades. Conservators of are fueled by knowledge and innova- for example, from which I recently human heritage and dynamos of prog- tion, and much of that intellectual en- stepped down after nine years as chan- ress, they generate knowledge, educate ergy is born and nourished in our great cellor, funding has dropped from 47 our youth, foster innovation, seed new research universities. percent of overall budgets in 1991 to 10 businesses, and strengthen our democ- Today, these American institutions percent today. racy and national security. Our uni- are facing unprecedented challenges, Many of our sister institutions versities account for 55 percent of the in large part because of the 2008 fi- across the nation have gone from being research and development that under- nancial meltdown, as well as the ongo- state-supported to state-assisted to, at pins U.S. economic growth. ing, long-term decline in state support. best, state-located. As a result of this That is the good news. Unfor tu Policymakers and the public expect our progressive state disinvestment, public nately, the bad news is that this record universities to continue to be accessible research and teaching universities have of excellence and achievement may not to all qualified students and at the same seen tuitions increase dramatically, continue to hold up—and if it does not, time to produce, achieve, and maintain professors furloughed, classes grow we may find ourselves losing our po- excellence. However, state funding for steadily larger, and infrastructures de-
Average state funding for public research institutions per full-time enrolled student, 2000–2010
11,000 $10,682 $10,837 10,000 $10,473 $9,653 $9,588 $9,762 9,000 $9,260 $9,146 $9,001 $8,950 8,000 $8,132 7,000 AMOUNT (US$)
6,000 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
source: delta cost project
12 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 teriorate. If the current trend persists, in 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed the in all states and distributed based on the result will be extremely damaging Higher Education Act to launch the population and competition. Of course, to our higher education enterprise, es- first major student aid program. these grants would carry safeguards to pecially the public-university sector. Today, our situation calls for a sim- ensure both equitable distribution and The United States is the only ad- ilarly dramatic response that will bring state fiscal responsibility. For example, vanced country in which the federal the federal government, states, research the federal government would require government does not contribute di- institutions, and philanthropic organi- that state institutions demonstrate a rectly to the financing of the educa- zations into an unprecedented public- commitment to college access for a di- tional operations of its top universities. private partnership for innovation. verse population of students, redouble However, it is clearly in our national Under one such program proposed efforts to keep costs down, preserve a interest that public research and teach- by us at Berkeley: balance between research and teaching, ing universities thrive in every state, n Over a 10-year period, 100 of our and optimize graduation and retention that they are fully accessible, and that nation’s best public research universi- rates. Moreover, the new endowments students graduate with minimal debt. ties would work with private philan- would be structured and governed to In previous eras, the United States thropies and corporations to raise new protect institutional integrity, as well as responded to challenges by expand- permanent endowed capital. autonomy and academic freedom. ing higher education and bolstering its n The federal government would One proven way to spur this chal- capacity to serve the country. In 1862, provide $1 billion annually for 10 years lenge grant initiative would be to estab- in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham in challenge grants to match fully a num- lish a high-level national commission Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, grant- ber of new philanthropic investments in to engage the public will and lay out a ing federal land to help states establish university endowments for research and roadmap for success. Such a commis- public colleges. In 1944, Franklin D. teaching. This would supplement the sion, much like the work of Vannevar Roosevelt signed the GI Bill and com- government’s current funding commit- Bush and the Truman Commission after missioned the eminent scientist Vannevar ments for university-based research. World War II, could examine the place Bush to craft a comprehensive science n Each state would match the federal of the research university and consider policy for the nation. The following year, contribution over the decade according questions central to the basic research Bush presented to Harry Truman the to a formula to be determined—say, one and educational agendas. Preparation seminal report “Science, the Endless to one—and as a condition of receiving for this is already under way through Frontier,” which argued that the nation’s the federal and philanthropic funds, the a study sponsored by the American universities were best suited to take the state governments would promise, at Academy of Arts & Sciences appropri- lead in conducting basic research. The a minimum, to continue funding their ately named “The Lincoln Project.” policy Bush recommended still guides universities at the same level and agree The commission could address other America’s scientific enterprise. In 1946, not to substitute federal funding for that crucial issues, including: What is the ap- Truman authorized a commission on currently supplied by the state. propriate balance among the research, higher education that led to the devel- The grants would be available to teaching, and public service missions of opment of community colleges, and top research and teaching universities universities? How can we help faculty members keep pace with their digitally Sources of funds for all Percentage of R&D funds for public adept students and use technology to en- research universities, FY 2009 institutions provided by states hance learning? How do we ensure that
12 all segments of our diverse population Federal $40,765 11 have equal access to these great institu- 11.2%11.2 Institutional tions? How should universities respond $12,445 10 9.9%9.9 to forces such as commercialization that State/local gov. 9 $3,819 could threaten academic integrity? 8 8.6%8.5 Business $3,162 The solutions we seek must be PERCENTAGE 7 pragmatic yet ambitious. We must look Other $4,882 6 beyond mere sustainability so that our re- 1989 1999 2009 (DOLLARS IN MILLIONS) search and teaching universities—and our source: national science foundation source: national science foundation nation—will thrive for generations. ■
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 13 by Dr. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., President Emeritus, Michigan State University; Chancellor Emeritus, State University of New York System; Former Chairman and CEO, TIAA-CREF; Former Chairman, Rockefeller Foundation; U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Never Eat Your SEED CORN R Editor’s Note: This Haskins Award Lecture was original delivered at the Stern School of Business, New York University, on April 24, 2013.
Charles Waldo Haskins was a pre- Friedman, Gary Becker, and Theodore certainty. Their long-term survival from eminent pioneer in the field of account- Schultz, for whom I was research as- year to year depended exclusively upon ing. But he was so much more. His sistant for four years. My doctorate the food they produced. Facing the risks credits abound in such areas as: creat- was a symbol of the school’s brand of of crop failures from droughts, mon- ing the nation’s first Certified Public economic and monetary theory, of the soons, pests or blights, meant always Accounting legislation, establishing then new econometric analysis, and of protecting the seed for the next year’s the accounting firm of Haskins and dedication to empirical research. But I crop—even if it meant going hungry. Sells, and the founding and deanship did not become a Friedman “acolyte” Their wise rule was: “Never Eat Your of this great university’s school of busi- promoting the goals and efficiencies of Seed Corn.” ness. These contributions to financial the free market. This principle is the key to a major accounting and the Academy are only a Instead, I joined a very small, crisis facing U.S. higher education few of his multiple noteworthy accom- but distinguished group: The today. Since public higher education plishments. Thus receiving an award “CBCBCRAEA”—the city born, city enrolls some 75 percent of all students given in his name is an ennobling ac- bred, city raised, agricultural econom- in the United States, let me begin with colade that I am proudly honored ics association. Membership is strictly that sector. to receive. limited to economists who never lived Since I began working in higher ed- I am especially indebted to Dean on a farm, never worked on a farm, ucation roughly 50 years ago there have Peter Henry for this recognition. He and never studied agriculture—but we been dramatic changes and declines in is an esteemed academician lauded brashly did study and do research on the levels and sources of its financial among his peers and prized by me for the economics of agriculture. support. For example, when I arrived at his generosity this evening. On this oc- This story is relevant to the theme Michigan State University, student tu- casion I must congratulate him on his of my remarks this evening, drawn ition covered one-third the costs of the recent book Turnaround, Third World from the first lesson I learned as a university and two-thirds came from Lessons for First World Growth, de- youthful agricultural economist when state and federal sources. Today, those scribed as a “riveting tour of postwar studying small farmers in the less de- ratios have exactly reversed. Private world growth, replete with policy suc- veloped regions of Latin America and universities are not immune due to cesses and devastating mistakes.” Southeast Asia. Their lives reflected the their dependence upon Federal funds, Sixty years ago I enrolled as a reality of a legendary Chicago econo- especially for research. Ten of the 20 graduate student in the Department mist Frank H. Knight—whose famous largest recipients of Federal grants are of Economics at the University of book was Risk, Uncertainty and Profit. private universities. Chicago. Among my professors were Subsistence and semi-subsistence farm- Why is this happening? Nobel prize winners such as Milton ers lived in a world of high risk and un- One reason for the crisis is the pub-
14 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 lic’s growing rejection of the value of tion the larger loan debt levels for the edge base of our society. It is the basis education for the improvement of so- graduates themselves. The effects of for the growth of our national human ciety and the individual. Over time these negative forces upon educa- capital. The public and private institu- there has been a dramatic shift in soci- tional opportunity in turn impact future tions of higher education represent our ety’s understanding of the purpose and human capital growth. Keep in mind nation’s “seed corn” for our future. We goals of higher education. Increasingly, recent studies reveal that “A child born eat it at our peril. higher education’s primary goal is seen into a family in the highest quartile of There are countless other chal- as preparation for a specific job, not the income (in the U.S.) has a roughly 85 lenges assailing higher education, such nurture and growth of a broader human percent chance of earning a college de- as the escalating expenditures on big competence. Job outcomes after gradu- gree. A child born into a family in the time athletics, that are dramatically ation are becoming the dominant crite- lowest quartile of income has a less- outpacing those for basic academic rion of the value of higher education. than 8 percent chance of earning a de- This utilitarian trend is having a seri- gree.”1 This is a huge national loss of ous destructive impact upon the “hu- future human capital. manizing” areas—the arts, philosophy, These are the major underlying The “scientific theater, music, history, humanities, forces producing a steady erosion in foreign languages. The “Liberal Arts” the priorities and levels of support for method of inquiry,” may soon be an endangered species. higher education. These same three A second reason has been a growth forces are also being felt by the private which for centuries in our society of anti-science and anti- colleges and universities, especially knowledge views. The “scientific through Federal dollars. For example, has been the method of inquiry,” which for centuries in 2011 three out of five of the larg- has been the central foundation for the est recipients of Federal National central foundation increase in human knowledge, is being Institutes of Health grants were private steadily eroded. Attacks by burgeoning universities. In the top 20 Federal fund- for the increase in ideological or religious fundamental- ing of R & D, every public University human knowledge, ism has led to political pressure upon of Washington is matched by a private course content and curriculum choice, Johns Hopkins University. is being steadily even faculty selection. (Dare I men- These destructive trends have tion the continuing fight over teach- spawned disinvestment in the underly- eroded. ing evolution and the denial of global ing foundation of colleges and univer- warming? Or the recent Congressional sities, public and private. The long-run functions,2 or the challenges faced legislation to stop funding univer- impact upon the pursuit of excellence by the explosive new fad of MOOCs sity political science research?) These and the strengthening of core disci- (Massive Online Open Courses).3 views are gradually becoming the basis plines is causing a devastating decline Despite all these problems, I am op- for justifying inadequate tax support. in the central institutions for our na- timistic that my former colleagues— A third related negative factor has tion’s future growth and development. whether trustees, presidents, faculty, been a shifting of cost responsibilities, This path is weakening and destroying alumni, or donors—are fully capable thereby producing ever higher tuition the fundamental strength which his- of overcoming these challenges. Best levels for students and their families. torically has made higher education so of all, I am certain that their commit- The result has been a reduction in edu- successful in our nation. ment to the academic enterprise and cational access for low-income-sector Higher education is an investment their wisdom will lead to stronger and potential students and an increase in human capital—both through the greater future human capital. As the in the economic burden placed upon students who are served and the schol- largest private university in the country middle-income families, not to men- ars whose research expands the knowl- (Continued on page 21)
1 William E. Kirwan, “The Completion Imperative: Harnessing Change to Meet our Responsibilities,” 2013 Atwell Lecture, American Council on Education 95th Annual Meeting, March 3, 2013. 2 Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, “Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values, and the Future of College Sports” June 17, 2010. 3 Nick Anderson, “More universities try the MOOC model by moving professors’ lectures on line,” Washington Post, February 25, 2013.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 15 by Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania
For WHAT IT’S WORTH The value of a university education R Editor’s Note: This article derives from an endowed lecture President Gutmann delivered on achieving the aims of higher education at the Spencer Foundation Conference at Northwestern University and subsequently developed further at the De Lange Conference at Rice University. Revised for publication October 21, 2013.
In 2010, PayPal co-founder and more people to question if a college edu- be expected to continue to do so mov- Facebook “angel” investor Peter Thiel cation is really worthwhile: “Education ing forward. If well-paid equates to announced he would annually award may be the only thing people still be- worthwhile, then the worth of a col- $100,000 each to 20 young people for lieve in in the United States. To question lege education can be settled by the net them to drop out of college and spend education is really dangerous. It is the wage premium of the average college two years starting a tech-based busi- absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world graduate over the average high school ness. “You know, we’ve looked at the there’s no Santa Claus.” graduate—there would be little more math on this, and I estimate that 70 to Far from being dangerous, the exer- to discuss in the matter. 80 percent of the colleges in the U.S. cise of questioning the value of a college But it would be a serious mistake to are not generating a positive return on education has never been more impor- equate the value of a university educa- investment,” Thiel told an interviewer, tant. For many Americans, the grim em- tion to the wage premium earned by its explaining his view that we are in the ployment realities since the start of the graduates. If higher education is to be midst of a higher education bubble Great Recession of 2008 have called the understood as something more—some- not dissimilar to the housing and dot- value of higher education into question. thing much more—than a trade school com bubbles of previous decades. So we all would do well to ask: Do uni- in robes, before answering the question “Education is a bubble in a classic versities provide private and public ben- of whether a university education is sense. To call something a bubble, it efits commensurate with their private worthwhile, we must first address the must be overpriced and there must be and public costs? more fundamental—and more funda- an intense belief in it… there’s this sort This is a complex, but not impos- mentally complex—question of mis- of psycho-social component to people sible, question to answer. The simplest sion: What should universities aim to taking on these enormous debts when response is to tally the added income achieve for individuals and society? they go to college simply because that’s benefits a university education accrues It is reassuring to those who be- what everybody’s doing.” to its graduates, subtract its added costs, lieve in the worth of a university Since his announcement, more and determine if in fact benefits exceed education—and all the more so in a than 60 Thiel Fellows have decamped costs. Some economists have done this high-unemployment, low-growth econ- from university—a significant num- quite well. The overwhelming answer omy—to show that the average person ber of them from Stanford, MIT, and is that a college education has paid with a college education earns a lot Ivy League schools—to follow their off for most graduates to date, has in- more over her lifetime than the average dreams of entrepreneurial glory. Thiel creased rather than decreased its wage high school graduate, even after sub- says he hopes his program will prod premium as time has gone on, and can tracting the cost of college. But even if
16 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 we are reassured, we should not allow an easy solution to every human prob- 5.1 percent. Clearly, the more afford- ourselves to be entirely satisfied with lem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” able universities make their education that metric, because economic payback Many external obstacles to educa- to qualified young people from low- to university graduates is neither the tional and economic opportunity exist and middle-income families, the more only aim, nor even the primary aim, of in the United States—including pov- we will contribute to both educational a university education. Rather, it is best erty, broken families, and cutbacks in and economic opportunity. Other to consider the value-added proposition public support—which warrant our na- things being equal, universities provide of higher education in light of the three tional attention and, in some instances, even greater value-added opportunity fundamental aims of colleges and uni- urgent action. No one credibly claims to low- and middle-income students versities in the 21st century: that greater access to college education than to their wealthier peers. n The first aim speaks to who is will solve all or even most of these is- It is especially important to note to receive an education and calls for sues. But there is good reason to be- that opening the door to higher edu- broader access to higher education lieve that greater access to high-quality cation can have profound effects both based on talent and hard work, rather higher education is a vitally important on an individual’s lifetime earnings than family income and inherited tool in building a more just, prosper- and lifelong satisfaction, regardless wealth: Opportunity, for short. ous, and successful society. We can, of whether or not that door is framed n The second aim speaks to the core and we must, do a better job in meeting by ivy. Less selective two-year, four- intellectual aim of a university educa- the three fundamental goals of oppor- year, and community colleges have an tion, which calls for advanced learn- tunity, creative understanding, and con- especially important role to play here, ing fostered by a greater integration of tribution to afford the utmost benefits as selective universities cannot do ev- knowledge not only within the liberal of higher education for both personal erything: their focus on cutting-edge arts and sciences but also between the and societal progress. Taking to heart study and discovery limits their ability liberal arts and professional education: the ethical injunction, “physician heal to engage in compensatory education. Creative Understanding, for short. thyself,” I focus here on what universi- (The ability to work with a broad range n The third aim is an important con- ties themselves can do to better realize of student readiness is one of the great sequence to the successful integration their primary aims. advantages of community colleges and of knowledge, not only by enabling and Starting with the first: What can some less selective institutions, an ad- encouraging university graduates to universities do to help increase edu- vantage we risk forfeiting as an ever- meaningfully contribute to society, but cational opportunity? For low- and higher percentage of the cost of an also in the creation of new knowledge middle-income students, gainful em- education is shifted from state and gov- through research and the application of ployment itself is likely to be the most ernment support to individual respon- creative understanding: Contribution, basic economic advantage of a college sibility.) Nonetheless, the available for short. degree. A recent Brookings Institution data show that selective universities Although the challenges of increas- study found college is “expensive, but can provide greater access to qualified ing opportunity, advancing creative a smart choice,” noting that almost 90 students from low- and middle-income understanding, and promoting useful percent of young college graduates families than they have in the past. social contribution are not new, they were employed in 2010, compared My concern for increasing ac- take on a renewed urgency in today’s with only 64 percent of their peers who cess began with a focus on recruiting climate. Jobs are scarce. The United did not attend college. Moreover, col- qualified students from the lowest in- States is perceived to be declining in lege graduates are making on average come groups. Learning more led to the global competitiveness. Gridlock be- almost double the annual earnings of conclusion that increasing access for sets our political discourse and increas- those with only a high school diploma. middle-income students should also be ingly seems to define our national sense And this advantage is likely to stick a high priority. At Penn, we began by of purpose as well. In this environment, with them over a lifetime of work. asking: What proportion of students on it behooves us to remind those who Perhaps most relevant is that even in a set of selective university campuses would propose to reform higher edu- the depths of the Great Recession, the (that included Penn) come from the cation by simply removing some or all unemployment rate of college gradu- top 20 percent of American families as of it of the apt observation of the Sage ates was less than half that of high measured by income? The answer (as of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken: “There is school graduates, and never exceeded of 2003) was 57 percent.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 17 Since all colleges and universities earn between $62,000 and $94,000, are costs to all students from families with should admit only students who can also underrepresented by 8.4 percent. demonstrated financial need. Since I succeed once admitted, selective col- Increasing access to our universities became president, we have increased leges and universities also need to ask: for middle- and low-income students is Penn’s financial aid budget by more What percent of all students who are both an especially worthy, and an in- than 125 percent. And the net annual well-qualified come from the wealthi- creasingly daunting, challenge in the cost to all aided undergraduates is ac- est 20 percent? Thirty-six percent of wake of the Great Recession. Before tually ten percent lower today than it all highly qualified seniors (with high the Recession, taking financial aid into was a decade ago when controlled for grades and combined SATs over 1,200) account, middle- and low-income fami- inflation. Penn also instituted an all- lies were spending between 25 percent grant/no-loan policy, substituting cash and 55 percent of their annual income grants for loans for all undergraduates to cover the expense of a public four- eligible for financial aid. This policy Increasing access year college education. That burden enables middle- and low-income stu- has skyrocketed in the past five years, dents to graduate debt-free, and opens to our universities especially for middle-income students up a world of career possibilities to who are ineligible for Pell grants and graduates who otherwise would feel for middle- who attend public universities whose far greater pressure to pick the highest public funding (in many cases) has paying rather than the most satisfying and low-income been decimated. This has led to a situ- and promising careers. ation where a student from a typical Although much more work re- students is both middle-income family today may pay mains, Penn has significantly increased less to attend Penn than many flagship the proportion of first-generation, an especially public universities! low- and middle-income, and under- worthy, and an Yet private universities too have ex- represented minority students on our perienced a painful financial squeeze. campus. In 2013, one out of eight increasingly Only by making student aid one of members of Penn’s freshman class will their highest priorities and successfully be—like I was—the first in their family daunting, challenge raising many millions of dollars from to graduate from college. The percent- generous donors can most private in- age of underrepresented minorities at in the wake of the stitutions afford to admit students on a Penn has increased from 15 percent to need-blind basis and provide financial 22 percent over the past eight years. All Great Recession. aid that meets full need. This may be minorities account for almost half of the reason why only about one percent Penn’s student body. After they arrive, come from the top 20 percent, while of America’s 4,000 colleges and uni- many campus-wide initiatives enable 57 percent of selective university stu- versities are committed to need-blind these students to feel more at home dents come from this group. Thus, the admissions and to meeting the full fi- and to succeed. Graduation rates for all wealthiest 20 percent of American nancial need of their undergraduate groups are above 90 percent. families are overrepresented on our students. An even smaller group—just It is also important to note that campuses by a margin of 21 percent. a tiny fraction—of universities are the benefit of increasing opportunity All of the other income groups are committed not only to meeting the full extends far beyond the economic ad- underrepresented. Students from the financial need of all students who are vancement of low- and middle-income lowest 40 percent of income distribu- admitted on a need-blind basis, but also students who are admitted. Increased tion, whose families earn under about to providing financial aid exclusively socio-economic and racial diversity $41,000, are underrepresented by 4.3 on the basis of need. Those of us in enriches the educational experience for percent. The middle 20 percent, who this group thereby maximize the use everyone on a campus. By promoting come from families earning $41,000 of scarce aid dollars for students with greater understanding of different life to $61,000, are underrepresented by demonstrated financial need. experiences and introducing perspec- 8.4 percent. Students from the second At Penn, a focus on need-only aid tives that differ profoundly from the highest income group, whose families has enabled us to actually lower our prevailing attitudes among the most
18 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 privileged, a truly diverse educational ter how masterful its methods or pow- it would be hard to make sense of such environment prods all of us to think erful its paradigms. shifts. In the case of this important shift harder, more deeply, and oftentimes, Consider, for example, the issue of in political philosophy, scholars thought more daringly. climate change in a world that is both it valuable, in the face of ongoing in- This observation speaks to the more interconnected and more popu- justice, to revive a tradition of ethical second aim of a university educa- lous than ever before. To be prepared understanding and criticism of society. tion: cultivating creative understand- to make a positive difference in this A liberal arts degree is a prerequi- ing. Our universities face a daunting world, students must understand not site to professional education, and most challenge: we must immerse students only the science of sustainable design liberal arts universities and their facul- in the unprecedented torrent of new and development, but also the eco- ties stand firmly on the proposition that knowledge our contemporary society nomic, political, and other issues in the liberal arts should inform the profes- has unleashed while at the same time play. In this immensely complex chal- sions. Why then are liberal arts curricula somehow providing them with the in- lenge, a good foundation in chemical not replete with courses that teach stu- tellectual tools to make cogent sense engineering—which is not a traditional dents to think carefully, critically, and of it all. They must be facile with liberal arts discipline nor even conven- creatively about the roles and responsi- facts and figures, quick in apprehen- tionally considered part of the liberal bilities of professionals and the profes- sion, and yet slow to jump to easy and arts (engineering is typically classified sions? Perhaps we are assuming that ready conclusions. This is the essence as “professional or pre-professional students will make these connections of training them to think creatively, as education”)—is just as important as for themselves or that it will suffice if they will be called to do in addressing an understanding of economics or po- professional schools do so later. Neither the most challenging problems facing litical science. The key to solving every of these assumptions can be sustained. the world of today and tomorrow. We complex problem—climate change For example, we must not assume must optimize their global comprehen- being one among many—will require that students themselves will trans- sion, a term used here in the broadest connecting knowledge across multiple late ethics as typically taught in a phi- possible sense: global not just as in areas of expertise to both broaden and losophy curriculum into the roles and transnational, but more pointedly as deepen global comprehension and in so responsibilities of the medical, busi- in all-encompassing, as in integrating doing unleash truly creative and inno- ness, and legal professions. The ethi- multiple and oftentimes contradictory vative responses. cal considerations are too complex and perspectives. It will be their global A liberal arts education is the broad- profoundly affected by the institutional understanding that makes our highly est kind of undergraduate education roles and responsibilities of profes- educated students economically com- the modern world has known, and its sionals. Many lawyers, for example, petitive, intellectually innovative, and breadth is an integral part of its power are part of an adversarial system of primed for continued lifelong learning. to foster creative understanding. But it justice; many doctors are part of a So what does this need to cultivate is a mistake to accept the conventional system where they financially benefit global understanding in the 21st cen- boundaries of a liberal arts education from procedures the costs of which are tury require of our universities? Among as fixed, rather than as a humanly al- not paid directly by their patients; and other things, I suggest it demands that terable product of particular historical many businesspeople operate in what is we foster intensive learning across conditions. commonly called a free market, where academic disciplines within the liberal In my own field of political phi- external interferences are (rightly or arts and integrate that knowledge with losophy, for example, a scholarly ap- wrongly) presumed, prima facie, to a much stronger understanding of the proach centered on intellectual history be suspect. These and many other role and responsibilities of the profes- ceded significant ground in the 1970s contextual considerations profoundly sions. Whether the issue is health care to critical analysis of contemporary complicate the practical ethics of law, or human rights, unemployment or im- public affairs, which was a paradigm medicine, and business. migration, educational attainment or common to many earlier generations of My primary point is this: Although economic inequality, the big questions political philosophers. Were the liberal the separation of the liberal arts from cannot be comprehended—let alone arts motivated solely by the pursuit of the subject of professional roles and re- effectively addressed—by the tools of knowledge for its own sake, and not sponsibilities may be taken for granted only one academic discipline, no mat- any concern for worldly relevance, then because it is so conventional, it really
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 19 should strike us as strange, on both in- dressed an obvious rejoinder, that no more productive intellectual bridges tellectual and educational grounds, that educational institution can teach ev- between liberal arts and professional so few courses in the undergraduate erything. And so he continued: “But education. We can show how insights curriculum explicitly relate the liberal Art is long, and their Time is short. It is of history, philosophy, literature, poli- arts to professional life. This is a puzzle therefore propos’d that they learn those tics, economics, sociology, and science worthy of both intellectual and practi- Things that are likely to be most useful enrich understandings of law, busi- cal solution. and most ornamental.” ness, medicine, nursing, engineering, This stark separation of the practi- As Franklin’s intellectual heirs, architecture, and education—and how cal and theoretical was neither an inevi- we recognize that something educa- professional understandings in turn tionally significant is lost if students can enrich the insights of liberal arts choose their majors for either purely disciplines. We can demonstrate that scholastic or purely professional rea- understanding the roles and responsi- I propose that sons, rather than because they want to bilities of professionals in society is an be both well-educated and well-pre- important part of the higher education we proudly pared for a likely future career. The in- of democratic citizens. troduction of distribution requirements This leads to the third aim of a proclaim a liberal for all majors is one way of respond- university education: maximizing so- ing to this potential problem. The glory cial contribution. Here in particular is arts education, and strength of American liberal arts where the university’s age-old focus education is its enabling undergradu- on training scholars and advancing including its focus ates to keep their intellectual sights scholarship bumps up against its rela- and their career options open, while tively recent focus (first brought to on basic research, cultivating intellectual curiosity and the fore by German and American re- as broadly pre- creativity that will enhance any of the search universities of the mid- and late- career paths they later choose to fol- nineteenth century) on discovery and professional low. These are among the most emi- the creation of new knowledge. The nently defensible aims of a liberal arts sweep of the university’s place in so- and optimally education: to broaden rather than nar- ciety is long, going back more than a row the sights of undergraduates, and thousand years; in that context, the role instrumental in to strengthen rather than stifle their of the modern research university in creative potential. America, dating back just to the 1870s, pursuit of real I propose that we proudly proclaim is a comparatively recent innovation. It a liberal arts education, including its is nevertheless a development that has world goals. focus on basic research, as broadly had far-reaching and profound conse- pre-professional and optimally instru- quences in areas ranging from health table outgrowth of earlier educational mental in pursuit of real world goals. and medicine to physics and material efforts, nor has it ever been universally At its best, a liberal arts education sciences, the social sciences, and the accepted. In fact, it flew in the face of prepares undergraduates for success humanities. Basic research now plays at least one early American effort to in- in whatever profession they choose an integral role in our understanding tegrate the liberal arts and professional to pursue, and it does so by virtue of of the liberal arts, and we have come education. In his educational blueprint teaching them to think creatively and to understand our colleges and univer- (“Proposals Relating to the Education critically about themselves, their so- sities not just as training grounds for of Youth in Pensilvania”), which later ciety (including the roles and respon- the next generation of fully prepared led to the founding of the University sibilities of the professions in their democratic citizens, but no less as vital of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin society), and the world. economic engines whose discoveries called for students to be taught “every So what can we do to bolster this drive future waves of innovation and Thing that is useful, and every Thing optimal educational system, as envi- human progress. that is ornamental.” Being a principled sioned by Franklin? As 21st century These are discoveries such as those pragmatist, Franklin immediately ad- colleges and universities, we can build made by Dr. Carl June and his team at
20 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, with Colleges and universities also con- contributions from colleagues at the tribute to society at the local level by SEED CORN Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. modeling ethical responsibility and Continued from page 15 Their pioneering research with indi- social service in their institutional vidualized cancer treatments produced practices and initiatives. Their capital with its outstanding record of success, a reengineered T-cell therapy. Just in investments in educational facilities I am confident that NYU will make a time, too, for young Emma Whitehead, contribute to the economic progress major contribution. who was stricken with advanced leuke- of their local communities. Colleges Let me close by reflecting a mo- mia when she was just five years old. and universities at every level can be ment on the competition between uni- Under Dr. June’s care, Emma, now institutional models of environmental versities over which one is best. The seven, has beaten her cancer into re- sustainability in the way they build and problem is very acute if the alumnus mission. She’s back at school, laugh- maintain their campuses. has graduated from several universi- ing and learning and playing with her While the core social contribution ties—in my case three. I have learned friends. Her miraculous recovery not of universities lies in both increasing that one way to dampen the conflict is only means a renewed chance at a long, opportunity for students and cultivat- with exaggerated humor. My favorite fulfilling life for her and her parents— ing their creative understanding, the story is the following: it promises renewed hope for so many analogous core social contributions of Three economics professors were who are ravaged by cancer. universities in the realms of faculty re- in an airplane that fatally crashed. They In university classrooms and labo- search and clinical service are similarly arrived in Heaven to face God sitting ratories across the country, the bright- crucial. And both are only strengthened on her great white throne. est minds are leveraging research and by better integrating insights across God addresses the first professor. discovery to contribute to the social the liberal arts and the professions. An “What do you believe in?” good. Most of these stories are not as education that cultivates creative un- The first professor replies, “I stud- dramatic as Emma’s, but each in its derstanding enables diverse, talented, ied and taught at Harvard. I believe in own way has changed and will con- hardworking graduates to pursue pro- giving power to the people. I think that tinue to change how we live and work ductive careers, to enjoy the pleasures government is the best mechanism to and understand our world. The full tale of lifelong learning, and to reap the sat- help people make their dreams come of the benefits that universities bring isfactions of creatively contributing to true for a better life.” extends far beyond technological and society. The corresponding institutional God thinks for a second and she medical advances. We help govern- mission of colleges and universities at says, “OK, I approve of that. Come and ments build good public policy based all levels is to increase opportunity, to sit at my left.” on robust empirical data, garnered from cultivate creative understanding, and— God then addresses the second pro- university research. We build better by these and other important means fessor. “What do you believe in? international cooperation through the such as innovative research and clinical The second professor replies, “I study of languages and cultures, eco- service—to contribute to society. studied and taught at Yale. I believe nomic markets, and political relations. At their best, universities recruit that the combustion engine is evil We strengthen economies by fostering hardworking, talented, and diverse stu- and that we must save the world from scores of newly discovered products, dent bodies and help them develop the global warming to protect the whole markets, and industries. We safeguard understandings—including the roles earth from extinction.” our collective health and well-being and responsibilities of the professions God thinks for a second, and she with insight into global phenomena and in society—that are needed to address says, “OK, that sounds good. Come systems such as climate change, shift- complex social challenges in the 21st and sit on my right.” ing sea levels, and food supply and ag- century. To the extent that universities God then addresses the third pro- ricultural production. All the vital basic do this and do it well, we can confi- fessor. “What do you believe in?” and applied research being conducted dently say to our students and our soci- The third professor replies, “I by universities cannot be accounted ety that a university education is a wise studied and taught at New York for in any one list—the sum is too vast. investment indeed. ■ University…and I believe you are sit- What I can sum up here is this: If we do ting on my throne!” ■ not do this research, no one will.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 21 by L. Rafael Reif, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Better, More AFFORDABLE COLLEGES Start Online How digital learning can become a part of every campus. R Everyone would like a solution to ing the wrong question. I believe they 1.25 million unique learners—10 times the problem of rising college costs. will; we are assessing this possibility the number of living MIT graduates. While students worry that they cannot at MIT even now. But first we should With our edX partner institutions, we afford a college education, U.S. col- use these tools to make higher educa- see an immense opportunity to help leges and universities know they can- tion better—in fact, to reinvent it. When people transform their lives. not really afford to educate them either. the class of 2025 arrives on campuses, Yet digital learning also offers sur- At a technology-intensive research uni- these technologies will have reshaped prising advantages even for students versity like the Massachusetts Institute the entire concept of college in ways we with access to the best educational re- of Technology, it now costs three times cannot yet predict. Those transforma- sources. First, digital technologies are as much to educate an undergraduate as tions may change the whole equation, remarkably good at teaching content: we receive in net tuition—that is, the from access to effectiveness to cost. the basic concepts of circuits and elec- tuition MIT receives after providing for To understand the potential, it’s im- tronics, the principles of chemistry, the financial aid. To push the research fron- portant to focus on what digital learn- evolution of architectural styles. At an tier and educate innovators in science ing is good for. At least at the moment, online-learning summit at MIT, one and engineering demands costly instru- it is surely not very good at replacing eminent professor of physics from a mentation and unique facilities. Even a close personal connection with an in- peer university explained that although for institutions with substantial endow- spiring teacher and mentor. However, it he loves lecturing and receives top rat- ments, subsidizing a deficit driven by is incomparably good at opening pos- ings in student reviews, he recently these and other costs is, in the long run, sibilities for billions of human beings came to rethink his entire approach. unsustainable. who have little or no other access to Why? Because testing indicated that Some wonder whether today’s on- higher learning. The global appetite for many students did not come away from line technologies—specifically, mas- advanced learning is enormous: MIT his lectures ready to apply the concepts sive open online courses, or MOOCs, OpenCourseWare—the initiative we he aimed to teach. By contrast, compa- which can reach many thousands of started in 2002 to post virtually all our rable students taught through online ex- students at a comparatively low cost— course materials for free online—has ercises—including immediate practice, could be an answer. I am convinced that attracted 150 million learners world- feedback, and reinforcement—retained digital learning is the most important in- wide. Today learners from every state the concepts better and were better pre- novation in education since the printing in America and every nation on earth pared to put them into practice. With so press. Yet if we want to know whether are actually taking MIT online classes; much introductory material moving on- these technologies will make a college the edX platform we launched with line, instructors can take time that was degree less expensive, we may be ask- Harvard 17 months ago has enrolled previously reserved for lectures and
22 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 use it to exploit the power of innova- tion—are transmitted most effectively ized and valuable model of residential tive teaching techniques. A 2011 study face-to-face: the judgment, confidence, education—and what changes should co-authored by physics Nobel laure- humility, and skill in negotiation that we make to maximize that value? ate Carl Wieman at the University of come from hands-on problem solv- Once we answer these questions, British Columbia showed the benefits: ing and teamwork; the perseverance, the college experience could look quite when tested on identical material, stu- analytical skill, and initiative that grow different in 10 or 20 years. I expect a dents taught through a highly interac- from conducting frontline lab research; range of options, from online creden- tive “flipped classroom” approach did the skill in writing and public speaking tialing in many technical fields all the nearly twice as well as peers taught via that comes from exploring ideas with way to blended online and residential traditional lectures. mentors and peers; the ethics and val- experiences that could be more stimu- Digital learning technologies offer ues that emerge through being appren- lating and transformative than any col- a second advantage, which is harder to ticed to a master in your field and living quantify but is deeply appealing to both as a member of a campus community. students and faculty: flexibility. Just as Online learning may not help stu- college traditionally requires four years dents arrive at such lessons directly— At MIT, faculty at the same academic address, tradi- but it may serve to clear the way. At tional courses require large groups of MIT, faculty members experimenting members students to regularly gather at the same with online tools to convey content in experimenting with time and place. By making it possible their courses are finding that it allows to break the course content into dozens them more time to focus on education: online tools to convey of small conceptual modules of instruc- detailed discussions, personal mentor- tion and testing, digital learning allows ship, project-based learning. They are content in their courses students to engage the material any- developing a blended model that uses are finding that it time, any day, as often as they need to, online tools strategically—and they are anywhere in the world. A student can making education more engaging and allows them more time now spend a year immersed in remote more effective for more students than it field research on an important problem has ever been before. to focus on education: while staying in sync with the courses Digital learning technologies pres- detailed discussions, in her major. A team of students work- ent us with a tremendous opportunity ing on a project can now reach for a to examine what college is good for, to personal mentorship, new concept just at the moment they imagine what colleges might look like need it to solve a problem—the most in the future, and to strive for ways to project-based learning. powerful learning incentive of all. raise quality and lower costs. To teach And we are only beginning to ben- what is best learned in person, do we lege program in existence now. Higher efit from a third advantage of digital need four years on campus, or could education will have the tools to engage learning: the ability to analyze and gain other models be even more effective? lifelong learners anywhere, overturn- information from the vast data we are Could the first year of course work be ing traditional ideas of campus and stu- generating about how people actually conducted online as a standard for ad- dent body. I believe these experimental learn best. By providing, on a huge mission? Or could online tools allow years will produce many possibilities, scale, a systematic, data-driven way to juniors to spend a year working in the so that future learners will be able to learn about learning, online technolo- field? Then there’s the question of our choose what is best for them. If you’re gies will provide testable conclusions physical campuses. MIT has about 200 wondering how much these options that could improve teaching methods lecture halls. How many will we need will cost, a better question might be, and strategies for both online and in- in 20 years—and what different learn- How much will these options be worth? person instruction. ing spaces should campuses include in- I strongly believe that by capitalizing For all the strengths of today’s digi- stead? Should we develop a new kind on the strengths of online learning, we tal technologies, however, we know of blended education that combines the will make education more accessible, that some things—perhaps the most best of online and in-person learning? more effective, and more affordable for important elements of a true educa- Would this lead to a new, more custom- more human beings than ever before. ■
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 23 Recognizing the Real and the Potential: FIELDS MEDAL for Mathematical Efforts R
Fields Medal recipients since inception
Year Winners 1936 Lars Valerian Ahlfors (Harvard University) (April 18, 1907 – October 11, 1996) Jesse Douglas (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (July 3, 1897 – September 7, 1965) 1950 Atle Selberg (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) (June 14, 1917 – August 6, 2007) 1954 Kunihiko Kodaira (Princeton University) (March 16, 1915 – July 26, 1997) 1962 John Willard Milnor (Princeton University) (born February 20, 1931) The Fields Medal 1966 Paul Joseph Cohen (Stanford University) (April 2, 1934 – March 23, 2007) Stephen Smale (University of California, Berkeley) (born July 15, 1930) is awarded 1970 Heisuke Hironaka (Harvard University) (born April 9, 1931) every four years 1974 David Bryant Mumford (Harvard University) (born June 11, 1937) 1978 Charles Louis Fefferman (Princeton University) (born April 18, 1949) on the occasion of the Daniel G. Quillen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (June 22, 1940 – April 30, 2011) International Congress 1982 William P. Thurston (Princeton University) (October 30, 1946 – August 21, 2012) Shing-Tung Yau (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) (born April 4, 1949) of Mathematicians 1986 Gerd Faltings (Princeton University) (born July 28, 1954) to recognize Michael Freedman (University of California, San Diego) (born April 21, 1951) 1990 Vaughan Jones (University of California, Berkeley) (born December 31, 1952) outstanding Edward Witten (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) (born August 26, 1951) mathematical 1994 Jean Bourgain (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) (born February 28, 1954) achievement Efim Zelmanov (University of Wisconsin) (born September 7, 1955) 1998 Curtis T. McMullen (Harvard University) (born May 21, 1958) for existing work 2002 Vladimir Voevodsky (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) (born June 4, 1966) and for the promise of 2006 Andrei Okounkov (Princeton University) (born June 26, 1969) Terence Tao (University of California, Los Angeles) (born July 17, 1975) future achievement. 2010 Ngô Bao Châu (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) (born June 28, 1972)
PHOTO OF THE FIELDS MEDAL BY STEFAN ZACHOW.
24 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 American Academia’s NOBEL HISTORY R
Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions.
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 1907 Physics Michelson, A.A. Spectroscopic and metrological investigations University of Chicago 1914 Chemistry Richards, Theodore William Accurate determination of the atomic weights of numerous elements Harvard University 1923 Physics Millikan, Robert Andrews Work on elementary electric charge and the photoelectric effect California Institute of Technology 1927 Physics Compton, Arthur Holly Discovery of wavelength change in diffused X-rays University of Chicago 1930 Physiology/medicine Landsteiner, Karl Grouping of human blood types Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research 1933 Physiology/medicine Morgan, Thomas Hunt Heredity transmission functions of chromosomes California Institute of Technology 1934 Chemistry Urey, Harold C. Discovery of heavy hydrogen University of California at Berkeley Physiology/medicine Minot, George Richards Discoveries concerning liver treatment for anemia Harvard Medical School Physiology/medicine Murphy, William P. Discoveries concerning liver treatment for anemia Harvard Medical School Physiology/medicine Whipple, George H. Discoveries concerning liver treatment for anemia School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester 1936 Physics Anderson, Carl David Discovery of the positron California Institute of Technology 1937 Physics Davisson, Clinton Joseph Experimental demonstration of the interference phenomenon in crystals irradiated Carnegie Institute of Technology by electrons 1939 Physics Lawrence, Ernest Orlando Invention of the cyclotron University of California at Berkeley 1943 Physics Stern, Otto Discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton Carnegie Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Doisy, Edward Adelbert Discovery of chemical nature of vitamin K St. Louis University 1944 Physics Rabi, Isidor Isaac Resonance method for registration of various properties of atomic nuclei Columbia University Physiology/medicine Erlanger, Joseph Researches on differentiated functions of nerve fibers Washington University in St. Louis Physiology/medicine Gasser, Herbert Spencer Researches on differentiated functions of nerve fibers Washington University in St. Louis 1946 Chemistry Northrop, John Howard Preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in pure form Rockefeller University Chemistry Stanley, Wendell Meredith Preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in pure form Rockefeller University Chemistry Sumner, James Batcheller Discovery of enzyme crystallization Cornell University Physics Bridgman, Percy Williams Discoveries in the domain of high-pressure physics Harvard University Physiology/medicine Muller, Hermann Joseph Production of mutations by X-ray irradiation Indiana University
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 25 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 1949 Chemistry Giauque, William Francis Behavior of substances at extremely low temperatures University of California at Berkeley 1950 Physiology/medicine Kendall, Edward Calvin Research on adrenal cortex hormones, their structure and biological effects Princeton University 1951 Chemistry McMillan, Edwin Mattison Discovery of and research on transuranium elements University of California at Berkeley Chemistry Seaborg, Glenn T. Discovery of and research on transuranium elements University of California at Berkeley 1952 Physics Bloch, Felix Discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance in solids Stanford University Physics Purcell, E.M. Discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance in solids Harvard University Physiology/medicine Waksman, Selman Abraham Discovery of streptomycin Rutgers University 1953 Physiology/medicine Lipmann, Fritz Albert Discovery of coenzyme A–citric acid cycle in metabolism of carbohydrates Harvard Medical School 1954 Chemistry Pauling, Linus Study of the nature of the chemical bond California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Enders, John Franklin Cultivation of the poliomyelitis virus in tissue cultures Boston Children’s Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School Physiology/medicine Robbins, Frederick Chapman Cultivation of the poliomyelitis virus in tissue cultures Case Western Reserve University Physiology/medicine Weller, Thomas H. Cultivation of the poliomyelitis virus in tissue cultures Harvard School of Public Health 1955 Chemistry du Vigneaud, Vincent First synthesis of a polypeptide hormone Cornell Medical College Physics Kusch, Polykarp Measurement of the magnetic moment of the electron Columbia University Physics Lamb, Willis Eugene, Jr. Discoveries in the hydrogen spectrum University of Arizona 1956 Physics Bardeen, John Investigations on semiconductors and invention of the transistor University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Physiology/medicine Cournand, André F. Discoveries concerning heart catheterization and circulatory changes Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Physiology/medicine Richards, Dickinson Discoveries concerning heart catheterization and circulatory changes Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Woodruff 1958 Physiology/medicine Beadle, George Wells Genetic regulation of chemical processes California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Lederberg, Joshua Genetic recombination Stanford University Physiology/medicine Tatum, Edward L. Genetic regulation of chemical processes Rockefeller Institute 1959 Physics Chamberlain, Owen Confirmation of the existence of the antiproton University of California, Berkeley Physics Segrè, Emilio Confirmation of the existence of the antiproton University of California, Berkeley Physiology/medicine Kornberg, Arthur Work on producing nucleic acids artificially Washington University in St. Louis Physiology/medicine Ochoa, Severo Work on producing nucleic acids artificially New York University School of Medicine 1960 Chemistry Libby, Willard Frank Development of radiocarbon dating University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Physics Glaser, Donald A. Development of the bubble chamber University of Michigan 1961 Chemistry Calvin, Melvin Study of chemical steps that take place during photosynthesis University of California, Berkeley Physics Hofstadter, Robert Determination of shape and size of atomic nucleons Stanford University Physiology/medicine Békésy, Georg von Functions of the inner ear Harvard University 1962 Physiology/medicine Watson, James Dewey Discoveries concerning the molecular structure of DNA Harvard University 1963 Physics Mayer, Maria Goeppert Development of shell model theory of the structure of the atomic nuclei University of California at San Diego Physics Wigner, Eugene Paul Principles governing interaction of protons and neutrons in the nucleus Princeton University 1964 Physics Townes, Charles Hard Work in quantum electronics leading to construction of instruments based on Massachusetts Institute of Technology maser-laser principles Physiology/medicine Bloch, Konrad Discoveries concerning cholesterol and fatty-acid metabolism Harvard University
26 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 1965 Physics Feynman, Richard P. Basic principles of quantum electrodynamics California Institute of Technology Physics Schwinger, Julian Seymour Basic principles of quantum electrodynamics Harvard University 1966 Chemistry Mulliken, Robert Sanderson Work concerning chemical bonds and the electronic structure of molecules University of Chicago Physiology/medicine Huggins, Charles B. Research on causes and treatment of cancer University of Chicago Physiology/medicine Rous, Peyton Research on causes and treatment of cancer Rockefeller Institute 1967 Physics Bethe, Hans Albrecht Discoveries concerning the energy production of stars Cornell University Physiology/medicine Hartline, Haldan Keffer Discoveries about chemical and physiological visual processes in the eye Rockefeller University Physiology/medicine Wald, George Discoveries about chemical and physiological visual processes in the eye Harvard University 1968 Chemistry Onsager, Lars Work on theory of thermodynamics of irreversible processes Yale University Physics Alvarez, Luis W. Work with elementary particles, discovery of resonance states University of California, Berkeley Physiology/medicine Holley, Robert William Deciphering of the genetic code Cornell University Physiology/medicine Khorana, Har Gobind Deciphering of the genetic code University of Wisconsin–Madison 1969 Physics Gell-Mann, Murray Classification of elementary particles and their interactions California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Delbrück, Max Research and discoveries concerning viruses and viral diseases California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Hershey, A.D. Research and discoveries concerning viruses and viral diseases Carnegie Institution Physiology/medicine Luria, Salvador Research and discoveries concerning viruses and viral diseases Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1970 Economics Samuelson, Paul Work in scientific analysis of economic theory Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1971 Economics Kuznets, Simon Extensive research on the economic growth of nations Harvard University Physiology/medicine Sutherland, Earl W., Jr. Action of hormones Vanderbilt University School of Medicine 1972 Chemistry Anfinsen, Christian B. Fundamental contributions to enzyme chemistry Harvard Medical School Chemistry Moore, Stanford Fundamental contributions to enzyme chemistry Rockefeller University Chemistry Stein, William H. Fundamental contributions to enzyme chemistry Rockefeller University Economics Arrow, Kenneth J. Contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory Stanford University Physics Bardeen, John Development of the theory of superconductivity University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Physics Cooper, Leon N. Development of the theory of superconductivity Brown University Physics Schrieffer, John Robert Development of the theory of superconductivity University of California at Santa Barbara Physiology/medicine Edelman, Gerald Maurice Research on the chemical structure of antibodies Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research 1973 Economics Leontief, Wassily Input-output analysis Harvard University 1974 Chemistry Flory, Paul J. Studies of long-chain molecules Stanford University Physiology/medicine Claude, Albert Research on structural and functional organization of cells Rockefeller University Physiology/medicine Palade, George E. Research on structural and functional organization of cells Yale University Medical School 1975 Economics Koopmans, Tjalling C. Contributions to the theory of optimum allocation of resources Yale University Physics Rainwater, James Work on the atomic nucleus that paved the way for nuclear fusion Columbia University Physiology/medicine Baltimore, David Interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Dulbecco, Renato Interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell Salk Institute for Biological Studies Physiology/medicine Temin, Howard Martin Interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell University of Wisconsin–Madison 1976 Chemistry Lipscomb, William Nunn, Jr. Structure of boranes Harvard University Economics Friedman, Milton Consumption analysis, monetary theory, and economic stabilization University of Chicago Literature Bellow, Saul Novelist University of Chicago Physics Richter, Burton Discovery of new class of elementary particles (psi, or J) Stanford University Physics Ting, Samuel C.C. Discovery of new class of elementary particles (psi, or J) Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Blumberg, Baruch S. Studies of origin and spread of infectious diseases University of Pennsylvania
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 27 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 1977 Physics Anderson, Philip W. Contributions to understanding the behavior of electrons in magnetic, Princeton University noncrystalline solids Physics Van Vleck, John H. Contributions to understanding the behavior of electrons in magnetic, Harvard University noncrystalline solids Physiology/medicine Guillemin, Roger Charles Research on pituitary hormones Salk Institute for Biological Studies Louis Physiology/medicine Schally, Andrew Victor Research on pituitary hormones Tulane University Physiology/medicine Yalow, Rosalyn S. Development of radioimmunoassay Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital 1978 Economics Simon, Herbert Alexander Decision-making processes in economic organizations Carnegie Mellon University Physiology/medicine Nathans, Daniel Discovery and application of enzymes that fragment DNA Johns Hopkins University Physiology/medicine Smith, Hamilton Othanel Discovery and application of enzymes that fragment DNA Johns Hopkins University 1979 Chemistry Brown, Herbert Charles Introduction of compounds of boron and phosphorus in the synthesis of organic Purdue University substances Economics Schultz, Theodore William Analyses of economic processes in developing nations University of Chicago Physics Glashow, Sheldon Lee Unification of electromagnetism and the weak interactions of subatomic particles Harvard University Physics Weinberg, Steven Unification of electromagnetism and the weak interactions of subatomic particles Harvard University Physiology/medicine Cormack, Allan MacLeod Development of the CAT scan Tufts University 1980 Chemistry Berg, Paul First preparation of a hybrid DNA Stanford University Chemistry Gilbert, Walter Development of chemical and biological analyses of DNA structure Harvard University Economics Klein, Lawrence Robert Development and analysis of empirical models of business fluctuations University of Pennsylvania Literature Milosz, Czeslaw Poet University of California, Berkeley Physics Cronin, James Watson Demonstration of simultaneous violation of both charge-conjugation and parity- Princeton University inversion symmetries Physics Fitch, Val Logsdon Demonstration of simultaneous violation of both charge-conjugation and parity- Princeton University inversion symmetries Physiology/medicine Benacerraf, Baruj Investigations of genetic control of the response of the immune system to foreign Harvard Medical School substances Physiology/medicine Snell, George Davis Investigations of genetic control of the response of the immune system to foreign Jackson Laboratory, an independent, nonprofit substances biomedical research institution 1981 Chemistry Hoffmann, Roald Orbital symmetry interpretation of chemical reactions Cornell University Economics Tobin, James Portfolio selection theory of investment Yale University Physics Bloembergen, Nicolaas Applications of lasers in spectroscopy Harvard University Physics Schawlow, Arthur Leonard Applications of lasers in spectroscopy Stanford University Physiology/medicine Hubel, David Hunter Processing of visual information by the brain Harvard Medical School Physiology/medicine Sperry, Roger Wolcott Functions of the cerebral hemispheres California Institute of Technology 1982 Economics Stigler, George J. Economic effects of governmental regulation University of Chicago Physics Wilson, Kenneth Geddes Analysis of continuous phase transitions Cornell University 1983 Chemistry Taube, Henry Study of electron transfer reactions Stanford University Economics Debreu, Gerard Mathematical proof of supply and demand theory University of California, Berkeley Physics Chandrasekhar, Contributions to understanding the evolution and devolution of stars University of Chicago Subrahmanyan Physics Fowler, William A. Contributions to understanding the evolution and devolution of stars California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine McClintock, Barbara Discovery of mobile plant genes that affect heredity Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 1984 Chemistry Merrifield, Bruce Development of a method of polypeptide synthesis Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research
28 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 1985 Chemistry Hauptman, Herbert A. Development of a way to map the chemical structures of small molecules Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute Chemistry Karle, Jerome Development of a way to map the chemical structures of small molecules Naval Research Laboratory Economics Modigliani, Franco Analyses of household savings and financial markets Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Brown, Michael S. Discovery of cell receptors relating to cholesterol metabolism University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Physiology/medicine Goldstein, Joseph L. Discovery of cell receptors relating to cholesterol metabolism University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 1986 Chemistry Herschbach, Dudley R. Development of methods for analyzing basic chemical reactions Harvard University Chemistry Lee, Yuan T. Development of methods for analyzing basic chemical reactions University of California, Berkeley Economics Buchanan, James M. Public-choice theory bridging economics and political science George Mason University Physiology/medicine Cohen, Stanley Discovery of chemical agents that help regulate the growth of cells Washington University in St. Louis 1987 Chemistry Cram, Donald J. Development of molecules that can link with other molecules University of California, Los Angeles Economics Solow, Robert Merton Contributions to the theory of economic growth Massachusetts Institute of Technology Literature Brodsky, Joseph Poet, essayist Mount Holyoke College 1988 Physics Lederman, Leon Max Research in subatomic particles Columbia University Physics Schwartz, Melvin Research in subatomic particles Columbia University Physics Steinberger, Jack Research in subatomic particles Columbia University 1989 Chemistry Altman, Sidney Discovery of certain basic properties of RNA Yale University Chemistry Cech, Thomas Robert Discovery of certain basic properties of RNA University of Colorado Physics Dehmelt, Hans Georg Development of methods to isolate atoms and subatomic particles for study University of Washington, Seattle Physics Ramsey, Norman Foster Development of the atomic clock Harvard University Physiology/medicine Bishop, J. Michael Study of cancer-causing genes called oncogenes University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco Physiology/medicine Varmus, Harold Study of cancer-causing genes called oncogenes University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco 1990 Chemistry Corey, Elias James Development of retrosynthetic analysis for synthesis of complex molecules Harvard University Economics Markowitz, Harry M. Study of financial markets and investment decision making City University of New York Economics Miller, Merton H. Study of financial markets and investment decision making University of Chicago Economics Sharpe, William F. Study of financial markets and investment decision making Stanford University Physics Friedman, Jerome Isaac Discovery of atomic quarks Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physics Kendall, Henry Way Discovery of atomic quarks Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Murray, Joseph E. Development of kidney and bone-marrow transplants Brigham and Women’s Hospital [Harvard Medical School] Physiology/medicine Thomas, E. Donnall Development of kidney and bone-marrow transplants University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 1991 Economics Coase, Ronald Application of economic principles to the study of law University of Chicago 1992 Chemistry Marcus, Rudolph A. Explanation of how electrons transfer between molecules California Institute of Technology Economics Becker, Gary S. Application of economic theory to social sciences University of Chicago Physiology/medicine Fischer, Edmond H. Discovery of class of enzymes called protein kinases University of Washington, Seattle Physiology/medicine Krebs, Edwin Gerhard Discovery of class of enzymes called protein kinases University of Washington, Seattle 1993 Economics Fogel, Robert William Contributions to economic history University of Chicago Economics North, Douglass C. Contributions to economic history Washington University, St. Louis Literature Morrison, Toni Novelist Princeton University Physics Hulse, Russell Alan Identifying binary pulsars Princeton University Physics Taylor, Joseph H., Jr. Identifying binary pulsars Princeton University Physiology/medicine Sharp, Phillip A. Discovery of “split,” or interrupted, genetic structure Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 29 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 1994 Chemistry Olah, George A. Development of techniques to study hydrocarbon molecules University of Southern California Economics Harsanyi, John C. Development of game theory University of California, Berkeley Economics Nash, John F. Development of game theory Princeton University Physics Shull, Clifford G. Development of neutron-scattering techniques Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Gilman, Alfred G. Discovery of cell signalers called G-proteins University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas 1995 Chemistry Molina, Mario Explanation of processes that deplete Earth’s ozone layer Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chemistry Rowland, F. Sherwood Explanation of processes that deplete Earth’s ozone layer University of California, Irvine Economics Lucas, Robert E., Jr. Incorporation of rational expectations in macroeconomic theory University of Chicago Physics Perl, Martin Lewis Discovery of tau subatomic particle Stanford University Physics Reines, Frederick Discovery of neutrino subatomic particle University of California, Irvine Physiology/medicine Lewis, Edward B. Identification of genes that control the body’s early structural development California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Wieschaus, Eric F. Identification of genes that control the body’s early structural development Princeton University 1996 Chemistry Curl, Robert F., Jr. Discovery of new carbon compounds called fullerenes Rice University Chemistry Smalley, Richard E. Discovery of new carbon compounds called fullerenes Rice University Economics Vickrey, William Contributions to theory of incentives under conditions of asymmetric information Columbia University Physics Lee, David M. Discovery of superfluidity in isotope helium-3 Cornell University Physics Osheroff, Douglas D. Discovery of superfluidity in isotope helium-3 Stanford University Physics Richardson, Robert C. Discovery of superfluidity in isotope helium-3 Cornell University 1997 Chemistry Boyer, Paul D. Explanation of the enzymatic conversion of adenosine triphosphate University of California, Los Angeles Economics Merton, Robert C. Methods for determining the value of stock options and other derivatives Harvard University Economics Scholes, Myron S. Methods for determining the value of stock options and other derivatives Stanford University Physics Chu, Steven Process of trapping atoms with laser cooling Stanford University Physiology/medicine Prusiner, Stanley B. Discovery of the prion, a type of disease-causing protein University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco 1998 Chemistry Kohn, Walter Development of the density-functional theory University of California, Santa Barbara Physics Laughlin, Robert B. Discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect Stanford University Physics Störmer, Horst L. Discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect Columbia University Physics Tsui, Daniel C. Discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect Princeton University Physiology/medicine Furchgott, Robert F. Discovery that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn system Physiology/medicine Ignarro, Louis J. Discovery that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles system Physiology/medicine Murad, Ferid Discovery that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular University of Texas Medical School at Houston system 1999 Chemistry Zewail, Ahmed H. Study of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy California Institute of Technology Physiology/medicine Blobel, Günter Discovery that proteins have signals governing cellular organization Rockefeller University 2000 Chemistry Heeger, Alan J. Discovery of plastics that conduct electricity University of California, Santa Barbara Chemistry MacDiarmid, Alan G. Discovery of plastics that conduct electricity University of Pennsylvania Economics Heckman, James J. Development of methods of statistical analysis of individual and household University of Chicago behavior Economics McFadden, Daniel L. Development of methods of statistical analysis of individual and household University of California, Berkeley behavior Physics Kilby, Jack S. Development of the integrated circuit (microchip) Texas A&M University Physiology/medicine Greengard, Paul Discovery of how signals are transmitted between nerve cells in the brain Rockefeller University Physiology/medicine Kandel, Eric R. Discovery of how signals are transmitted between nerve cells in the brain Columbia University
30 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 2001 Chemistry Sharpless, K. Barry Work on chirally catalyzed oxidation reactions The Scripps Research Institute Economics Akerlof, George A. Analysis of markets with asymmetric information University of California, Berkeley Economics Spence, A. Michael Analysis of markets with asymmetric information Stanford University Economics Stiglitz, Joseph E. Analysis of markets with asymmetric information Columbia University Physics Cornell, Eric A. Achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms; early University of Colorado fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates Physics Wieman, Carl E. Achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms; early University of Colorado fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates Physiology/medicine Hartwell, Leland H. Discovery of key regulators of the cell cycle University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 2002 Chemistry Fenn, John B. Development of techniques to identify and analyze proteins and other large Virginia Commonwealth University molecules Economics Kahneman, Daniel Integration of psychological research into economic science, especially concerning Princeton University human judgment and decision making under uncertainty Economics Smith, Vernon L. Establishment of laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis George Mason University Physics Davis, Raymond, Jr. Detection of neutrinos University of Pennsylvania Physics Giacconi, Riccardo Seminal discoveries of cosmic sources of X-rays Johns Hopkins University Physiology/medicine Horvitz, H. Robert Discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed Massachusetts Institute of Technology cell death (apoptosis) 2003 Chemistry Agre, Peter Discoveries regarding water channels and ion channels in cells Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Chemistry MacKinnon, Roderick Discoveries regarding water channels and ion channels in cells Rockefeller University Economics Engle, Robert F. Development of techniques for the analysis of time series data New York University Physics Leggett, Anthony J. Discoveries regarding superconductivity and superfluidity at very low temperatures University of Illinois, Urbana Physiology/medicine Lauterbur, Paul Development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) University of Illinois, Urbana 2004 Chemistry Rose, Irwin Discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation University of California, Irvine Economics Prescott, Edward C. Contributions to dynamic macroeconomics Arizona State University Physiology/medicine Axel, Richard Discovery of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system Columbia University Physiology/medicine Buck, Linda B. Discovery of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Physics Gross, David J. Discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction University of California, Santa Barbara Physics Politzer, H. David Discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction California Institute of Technology Physics Wilczek, Frank Discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2005 Chemistry Grubbs, Robert H. Development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis California Institute of Technology Chemistry Schrock, Richard R. Development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis Massachusetts Institute of Technology Economics Schelling, Thomas C. Contributions to game-theory analysis University of Maryland, College Park Physics Glauber, Roy J. Contributions to the field of optics Harvard University Physics Hall, John L. Contributions to the development of laser spectroscopy University of Colorado 2006 Chemistry Kornberg, Roger D. Work on the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription Stanford University Economics Phelps, Edmund S. Analysis of intertemporal trade-offs in macroeconomic policy Columbia University Physics Mather, John C. Discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave University of Maryland, College Park background radiation Physics Smoot, George F. Discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave University of California, Berkeley background radiation Physiology/medicine Fire, Andrew Z. Discovery of RNA interference—gene silencing by double-stranded RNA Stanford University School of Medicine Physiology/medicine Mello, Craig C. Discovery of RNA interference—gene silencing by double-stranded RNA University of Massachusetts Medical School
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 31 Nobel Prize winners from American universities and other academic institutions (continued)
Year Category Name Achievement Academic affiliation 2007 Economics Hurwicz, Leonid Work that laid the foundations of mechanism design theory University of Minnesota Economics Maskin, Eric S. Work that laid the foundations of mechanism design theory Institute for Advanced Study Economics Myerson, Roger B. Work that laid the foundations of mechanism design theory University of Chicago Physiology/medicine Capecchi, Mario R. Discovery of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the University of Utah, Salt Lake City use of embryonic stem cells Physiology/medicine Smithies, Oliver Discovery of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill use of embryonic stem cells 2008 Chemistry Chalfie, Martin Discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP Columbia University Chemistry Shimomura, Osamu Discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, MA; Boston University Medical School Chemistry Tsien, Roger Y. Discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP University of California, San Diego Economics Krugman, Paul Analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity Princeton University Physics Nambu, Yoichiro Discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago 2009 Chemistry Steitz, Thomas Studies of the structure and function of the ribosome Yale University Economics Ostrom, Elinor Analysis of economic governance, especially the commons Indiana University; Arizona State University Economics Williamson, Oliver E. Analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm University of California, Berkeley Physiology/medicine Blackburn, Elizabeth H. Discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme University of California, San Francisco telomerase Physiology/medicine Greider, Carol W. Discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine telomerase Physiology/medicine Szostak, Jack W. Discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme Harvard Medical School telomerase 2010 Chemistry Heck, Richard F. Development of techniques to synthesize complex carbon molecules University of Delaware Economics Diamond, Peter A. Analysis of markets with search frictions Massachusetts Institute of Technology Economics Mortensen, Dale T. Analysis of markets with search frictions Northwestern University 2011 Economics Sargent, Thomas J. Empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy New York University Economics Sims, Christopher A. Empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy Princeton University Physics Perlmutter, Saul Discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of University of California, Berkeley distant supernovae Physics Riess, Adam G. Discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of Johns Hopkins University distant supernovae Physiology/medicine Beutler, Bruce A. Discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 2012 Chemistry Kobilka, Brian K. Studies of G-protein-coupled receptors Stanford University School of Medicine Chemistry Lefkowitz, Robert J. Studies of G-protein-coupled receptors Duke University Medical Center Economics Roth, Alvin E. Work on market design and matching theory Harvard University Economics Shapley, Lloyd S. Work on market design and matching theory University of California, Los Angeles Physics Wineland, David J. Development of methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual University of Colorado, Boulder quantum systems
32 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 by John L. Hennessy, President, Stanford University
The Real Crisis in HIGHER EDUCATION R Much has been written about the reports that the January 2013 unem- time), students who start and finish in rising costs of higher education and in- ployment rate for individuals with a the same public university graduate creasing student debt levels, and there bachelor’s degree was 3.7 percent, at a 57 percent rate; for those at a pri- is no doubt that both issues are serious compared to 8.1 percent for those with vate nonprofit, the rate is 69 percent. concerns. But hidden amid the conver- only a high school diploma and 7 per- Alarmingly, only 41 percent of enter- sation about cost and debt is another cent for those with some college but no ing students at four-year, for-profit crisis with even more profound impli- bachelor’s degree. institutions complete their degrees cations—the completion rate for to- Recent data from Georgetown within six years—and the full-time day’s college students. University’s Center for Education and average net tuition at a for-profit To many, the problem may not be the Workforce show that median life- school is about three times that of apparent. Roughly eight in 10 tradi- time earnings for bachelor’s degree public universities. tional college students—who attend a holders are $964,000 higher than for public or private nonprofit four-year high school–only graduates, and more university, on an exclusively full- than $500,000 higher than those with time basis—graduate within six years, a two-year degree or some college but Graduation rates according to the National Student no degree. Clearinghouse Research Center. But the National Student Clear- for minority students But look closer, and there’s real inghouse study shows that important are significantly lower trouble. The data show that minority groups of students are struggling to get students, students who attend part-time to a degree. than for the overall (even for a short time), and students at Part-time students are one such for-profit colleges have much lower group. Among students who start at population. completion rates for four-year degrees. a four-year public university, for in- Leaving school before achieving stance, 79 percent of those studying full Graduation rates for minority stu- a four-year degree seriously affects an time graduate within six years. But the dents also are significantly lower than individual’s economic prospects. It ex- figure is 17 percent for those who attend for the overall population. Federal data acerbates the student debt challenge, part time and 42 percent for those who show six-year graduation rates at four- as students accumulate debt but fail to attend some full time and some part year universities 8 percentage points achieve the college degree so crucial to time. (The numbers are a bit higher, but lower for Latinos than the overall aver- repaying it. It also has major implica- similar, for students attending four-year age, and 18 percentage points lower for tions for our nation’s competitiveness. private nonprofit universities.) African-Americans. The relationship of college comple- Completion rates also vary sig- The data are less complete when tion to personal economic security is nificantly by type of institution. it comes to the reasons behind lack of well documented but worth highlight- Considering all attendees (part-time, completion. But three main factors are ing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics full-time, and those who do both over clearly important.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 33 First, lack of adequate high school lenges facing the K-12 system are com- mer periods, and in developing lower- preparation and ability to do college plex and more appropriately detailed cost remediation seems promising. work is a critical factor. Second, many elsewhere, but better preparing students n Finally, colleges must focus on students feel they must work extensive in high school must be integral to any improving completion. Making the hours to afford to attend college, as re- effort to improve college completion. completion rate a primary focus of ac- ported in the recent National Survey n We need a collaborative approach creditation review seems an obvious of Student Engagement. Third, both to ensuring that a typical family’s col- step. Likewise, institutional eligibil- lack of academic engagement and slow lege expenses after financial aid grow ity for federal and state financial aid progress hurt graduation: Students at a rate no faster than inflation. This should be contingent on graduation who feel less engaged are more likely is a shared responsibility, with colleges rates, adjusted for risk in the student to drop out, and lack of classes and needing to control cost growth and population. We know that students who changes in major both extend time to enhance scholarships; the federal gov- are more deeply engaged—through degree. ernment strengthening its financial aid such strategies as smaller, interactive These issues need to be elevated, so programs; states restoring funding for classes, better and more personal ad- that nationally we begin talking about their public institutions; and families vising, close work with faculty in in- college completion in the same way we beginning to save early for college. dependent study, and service learning talk about college costs. It’s time for n Recent advances with online opportunities—attain higher gradua- a serious, national action plan to help learning offer opportunities for enhanc- tion rates. more students graduate. ing completion, although not a simple Increasing the graduation rate at n We need a true national commit- panacea. In addition to using technol- our nation’s colleges and universities is ment to better preparing students for ogy to improve efficiency and effec- a critical issue and a shared responsi- college work, reducing the need for tiveness in college, the use of online bility. It deserves a higher place in our remedial coursework. The many chal- instruction in high schools, during sum- national dialogue. ■
PUBLIC RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES’ REVENUE FROM STATES
1992 2002 2010
38% 32% 23% Revenue Revenue Revenue from states from states from states
source: national science foundation
34 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 by Nannerl O. Keohane, Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University, and former President of Wellesley College (1981-1993) and Duke University (1993-2004)
The Liberal Arts and Presidential LEADERSHIP R Editor’s Note: This is the text of a speech given to the Council of Independent Colleges Presidential Institute on January 4, 2012.
I’m indeed honored to address this many times. I am especially fond of well to contemporary high-tech meth- gathering of leaders of colleges histori- Thomas Cronin’s definition of the lib- ods of imparting knowledge. cally committed to a strong liberal arts eral arts as “the liberating arts—free- We all wrestle with the challenges education, and glad that my husband ing us from prejudice, dogmatism, and of educating students who are used Robert Keohane, who is chairing the parochialism, from complacency, senti- to multitasking, doing their home- presidential search committee of his mentality, and hypocrisy, from sloppy work while listening to music on alma mater, Shimer College, is also at- reasoning and careless writing.” A lib- their I-phones, and texting on their tending the conference. All of us are eral arts education doesn’t always ac- I-pods. For such students, the web- here in part to celebrate the impres- complish all those things, but it surely based facilities of exciting liberal arts sive record of our campuses and reaf- gives us a good beginning. Cronin courses are particularly salient. What firm our commitment for the future. has presided over two liberal arts col- would Aristotle or Erasmus or Robert But there are also challenges that we leges, and his definition appears in a Maynard Hutchins not have given for need to face together. We should pool recent book entitled Leadership and a technique that allows one to tour the our ideas and energies, and think stra- the Liberal Arts, edited by J. Thomas world’s greatest museums, looking tegically about how we can most effec- Wren. Here’s another pungent defi- closely at the details of countless mas- tively champion liberal arts education nition of a liberal education by Louis terpieces, explore the ruins of ancient today and in the future. My task is to Menand, in The Marketplace of Ideas, castles and pyramids and forums, join set the stage for these discussions. as “a background mentality, a way of archeological digs at your desk, turning Here’s how I will proceed: first, I’ll thinking, a kind of intellectual DNA objects around to see all sides of them, say a few words about the liberal arts that informs work in every specialized visualize problems in geometry or as- as a historic phenomenon with much area of inquiry.” tronomy or mathematics in several di- resonance in our world today. Then Ironically, of course, this very mensions and work out their solutions. I’ll present four arguments that may broad, capacious form of education An excellent example of the power be useful to you as you confront the we call the liberal arts is rooted in a of multimedia coupled with the liberal skeptics. Finally, I’ll talk briefly about specific curriculum in classical and arts is a general education course some- leadership and how you can make medieval times, including rhetoric, times taught at Harvard University by a difference. arithmetic, geometry, the trivium, and Stephen Greenblatt as English 126, the quadrivium. But it would be wrong “Imaginary Journeys.” The course is The liberal arts through history to assume that because it has such an- described as being “about global mo- Any one of you here today could cient roots, this kind of education is bility, encounter, and exchange at the give a persuasive definition of the lib- outdated, stale, fusty, or irrelevant. The time that Harvard College was founded eral arts, and doubtless have done so liberal arts lend themselves particularly in 1636. Using the interactive resources
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 35 of computer technology, we follow of Melbourne and Western Australia, preparation for careers; and c) a grow- imaginary voyages of three ships that the Universities of Manchester and ing focus on graduate education from leave England in 1633. [Each student Warwick in the UK. He cites a major the early 20th century to the present is assigned to one of the ships, which address in London by Yale’s Richard day. These developments have clearly are separated by a storm and there- Levin in which Levin noted that “Asian not been beneficial for American un- fore visit different destinations and leaders are increasingly attracted to dergraduate education. experience different fates.] Sites in- the American model of undergraduate “Liberal education in crisis” is a clude London’s Globe Theatre, Benin, curriculum,” specifically because of tiresomely familiar theme, and count- Barbados, Brazil, Mexico.” The course the two years of breadth and depth in less commissions, reports, and study was inspired by Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road different disciplines provided before a groups have attempted to address it. I student chooses an area of concentra- am under no illusions that I have the tion or embarks on professional train- magic key to resolve a problem that has ing. Levin described liberal arts honors stumped so many brilliant educators. As a liberal arts programs at Peking University, Yonsei But these questions are not just theo- University in South Korea, and the retical quandaries for you. They are the education becomes National University of Singapore; he issues you confront almost every day: also referred to liberal arts curricula at how do we defend liberal education more appealing Fudan University, Nanjin University, against the skeptics—parents, potential and the University of Hong Kong. In students, the media, the marketplace, to leaders and her recent book entitled Not for Profit: even some trustees and students? families in Asia Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Martha Nussbaum notes that she has Arguments for the liberal arts and elsewhere been recently involved in discussions today about creating a liberal arts curricu- I will offer four arguments designed in the world, it is lum in the Netherlands, Sweden, India, to defend the liberal arts (as distinct Germany, Italy, and Bangladesh. from vocational or narrowly pre-pro- losing ground in Yet, as we know, the trends in the fessional training) as the best education U.S. are in the opposite direction. And for undergraduates. I’ll discuss these the U.S. this is not just a recent problem. Louis arguments in order from the narrowest Menand cites evidence that in the U.S., to the most capacious, so you can take project, and the website provides an in- “the proportion of undergraduate de- your pick depending on your audience credible wealth of material from many grees awarded annually in the liberal or your personal preference. different sources—music, art, litera- arts and sciences has been declining The first, most practical defense: ture, architecture, history, geography. for a hundred years, apart from a brief I would argue that the liberal arts (and With this kind of course in mind, it rise between 1955 and 1970, which was sciences) are the best possible prepara- seems that the liberal arts could almost a period of rapidly increasing enroll- tion for success in the learned profes- have been designed for sophisticated ments and national economic growth.” sions—law, medicine, teaching—as well online learning, so far from being stale Thus, paradoxically, as a liberal arts as in the less traditionally learned but or fusty are these ways of knowing. education becomes more appealing to increasingly arcane professions of busi- And this kind of education is more leaders and families in Asia and else- ness, finance, and high-tech innovation. and more appealing to students and where in the world, it is losing ground There are many ways to study teachers at universities around the in our own country. any discipline; the subjects that make world. Donald Markwell, the warden At least three factors are at work in up the liberal arts curriculum are not of Rhodes House, recently gave a se- this decline: a) the creation of increas- themselves inherently liberal. As our ries of lectures in Canada, entitled “The ingly specialized disciplines, and the colleague President Lynn Pasquarella Need for Breadth.” He referred to a rewards for faculty members of ad- of Mt. Holyoke has recently reminded “surge of interest” in liberal education vancing knowledge in those areas; b) us, one can study the humanities in a in “many other countries.” He men- the economic premium that is thought technical rather than a liberal fashion— tions new programs at the Universities to reside in a highly technical form of narrow, esoteric, with no attempt to
36 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 broaden or challenge the mind to con- incorporate the material into your own to major in religion and she still doesn’t sider critically what one has learned. thinking in ways that will be much have a job!” Nancy gently pointed out And one can also study biology or more likely to stay with you, and help that the young woman had graduated physics, political science or anthropol- you later on. There are several distinct only a few minutes earlier and assured ogy, even economics, in a more or less advantages of this way of learning: it’s the mother that things would almost liberal fashion. So my first claim is that insurance against obsolescence; in any certainly work out. And sure enough, a liberal arts education, including a lib- rapidly changing field (and every field a few weeks ago the mother was rid- erally oriented study of the natural and is changing rapidly these days), if you ing a bike across the Princeton campus social sciences, presents material in a only focus on learning specific mate- and stopped to say hello to Nancy, and context that will be much more useful rials that are pertinent in 2012, rather said: “Guess what? My daughter did to budding lawyers or physicians or than learning about them in a broader get a job! She was volunteering at a venture capitalists than a narrowly con- context, you will soon find that you non-profit global organization and they strued preparation in their “own field.” have no use for these bits of knowledge were really impressed that she could For example, if you study neuro- and your training will have become write so clearly and elegantly, do re- science with a sense of awe about the valueless. Most important, with a lib- search on any topic she was assigned to complexities of the human brain, and eral education you will have learned cover, assemble the evidence to make some attention to questions about what how to learn, so that you will be able to persuasive arguments, and analyze it means to be human, not just a tech- do research to answer questions in your complex problems, so they offered her nical focus on the darting neurons, or field that will come up years from now, a job.” study biology with an awareness of the questions that nobody could even have These are the skills a liberal arts bewildering diversity and richness of envisioned in 2012, much less taught education instills in us. They were our natural world rather than attend- you how to answer. That’s all part of well described by no less an author- ing only to the way the molecules fit the first defense! ity than a former dean of Harvard Law together, you will have a better back- The second, slightly less utilitarian School, Erwin Griswold, cited in a re- ground as a physician when you go to defense of a liberal arts education is cent speech by Dean Martha Minow. med school, or a scientist when you get that it hones the mind, teaching focus, Griswold was discussing an ideal vi- your PhD Surely your bedside manner critical thinking, and the ability to sion of the Law School, but his argu- or your classroom techniques will also express oneself clearly both in writ- ments fit a liberal education wherever it be much improved! And if you study ing and speaking—skills which are of is provided: “You go to a great School some history and philosophy, you will great value no matter what profession not so much for knowledge as for arts or be much better prepared as a lawyer or you may choose. It’s not just that you habits; for the art of expression, for the financier than if you study only law, are taught specific materials in a liber- art of entering quickly into another per- or a narrowly construed pre-business ally designed context, but more gener- son’s thoughts, for the art of assuming program. Our eldest granddaugh- ally, the way your mind is shaped, the at a moment’s notice a new intellectual ter Charlotte (a very happy although habits of thought that you develop. position, for the habit of submitting to slightly chilly first-year student at When I discussed this talk with censure and refutation, for the art of in- Bowdoin College this year, and a pro- Nancy Malkiel, a Smith graduate who dicating assent or dissent in graduated spective MD) is going to major in neu- was dean of the college at Princeton terms, for the habit of regarding minute roscience, which is taught at Bowdoin for 24 years, she told me a story that points of accuracy, for the art of work- in a way that surely engages critical makes this point exactly. As dean, ing out what is possible in a given time; thinking and liberal learning. Nancy worked hard to create appeal- for taste, for discrimination, for mental So my first defense of liberal learn- ing incentives for students to major in courage, and mental soberness.” That’s ing is what you are taught and the some of the less frequented fields, to the second argument. way you learn it: the materials a take the pressure off econ or poli sci. At My third argument for a liberal arts doctor or financial analyst or physi- Princeton’s commencement last year, education is that a liberal arts educa- cist or humanist needs to know, but the mother of a student Nancy had ad- tion is the best education for citizen- taught in a liberally construed fash- vised, who had chosen quite happily to ship in a democracy like our own. In ion, so that you look at the subject major in religion, accosted her and said: the book I cited earlier, Not for Profit, from many different dimensions and “Dean Malkiel, you told my daughter Martha Nussbaum points out that from
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 37 the early years of our republic, educators When I was at Wellesley and Duke, whether they chose it or it was imposed and leaders have “connected the liberal I occasionally used a memorable image on them. arts to the preparation of informed, at convocation as the new academic Countless students and their par- independent, and sympathetic…citi- year began. With due credit, I bor- ents have told me that they recalled that zens.” Nussbaum argues that democra- rowed it from Michel de Montaigne’s image of the “back room of the mind” cies need “complete citizens who can 16th-century essay, “Of Solitude.” many years afterwards and had found it think for themselves, criticize tradition, Montaigne lived an active life in many helpful through many periods in their and understand the significance of an- ways, with family, friends, political po- lives. Virginia Woolf used a different other person’s sufferings and achieve- sitions, much travel; but he was excep- spatial image to make a similar point ments.” She lists the skills democratic tionally well aware of the importance in her book Three Guineas, when she citizens need: to “think well about of occasional solitude. Montaigne’s talked about the importance of cultivat- political issues affecting the nation; favorite place for writing and reflec- ing taste and the knowledge of the arts to recognize fellow citizens as people tion was the tower library on his estate and literature and music. She argues with equal rights; to have concern for in Southwestern France, to which he that people who are so caught up in the lives of others; to grasp what poli- climbed by a series of narrow staircases their professions or business that they cies of many types mean for the oppor- reaching to the very top of his domain, never have time to listen to music or tunities and experiences of one’s fellow with a view of the vineyards and grain- look at pictures lose the sense of sight, citizens; to imagine well a variety of fields, a ceiling carved with some of his the sense of sound, the sense of propor- complex issues affecting the story of favorite quotations, and lines of books tion. And she concludes: “What then a human life; to judge political lead- and manuscripts around the shelves. remains of a human being who has lost ers critically, but with an informed and If you visit his estate, you can still see sight, sound and a sense of proportion? realistic sense of the possibilities avail- that library and understand directly Only a cripple in a cave.” able to them; to think about the good what his life was like. One more spatial image in support of the nation as a whole, not just that Inspired by that beloved space, of this fourth argument, from a recent of one’s local group,” and “to see one’s Montaigne used the arresting image speech by my successor as president of own nation, in turn, as part of a compli- of the “back room of the mind.” He Duke University, Richard Brodhead. cated world order.” These are the kinds thought of his own mind as a kind of Dick Brodhead is an eminent scholar of of skills a liberal arts education fosters. tower library to which he could re- American literature and strong propo- At a time when democracy is strug- treat even when he was far from home, nent of the liberal arts. He spoke of the gling to be born in countries around filled with quotations from wise people human capacity to “make things that the world, and countries that have long and experimental thoughts and jokes outlive their makers,” and he asserted enjoyed democracy are struggling to and anecdotes, where he could keep that as we make or enjoy such things, sustain it against pressures of multiple company with himself. He suggested “we go out in spirit toward the works varieties, this may be the best of all the that we all have such back rooms in our of others.” Humans have the distinctive arguments for a liberal arts education. minds, and that the most valuable and ability, he continued, “to exit the con- We need citizens who can think for attractive people we know are those fines of our own experience and take up themselves, who can assess arguments who have rich and fascinating intel- mental residence in spaces created by made by people who have a stake in a lectual furniture in those spaces rather others.” And when we do so “with suf- particular outcome, attend to nuances than a void between their ears. When ficient intensity of feeling, we in turn in difficult policy situations, and re- I used this image I would counsel stu- have a chance to be changed. This is spect the interests and the dignity of dents to think of their college educa- the way we annex understandings that others who are not like them. tion as above all a way of furnishing have been struggled toward by others The fourth argument for a liberal the “back rooms of their minds.” In that we would never have reached on education, in addition to the way ma- this way, they would be much better our own. This is how we get to see the terials are presented, the habits of mind conversationalists, so that their com- world differently from the way our own that are instilled, and the preparation pany would be sought out by others, minds or culture habitually present it.” for democratic citizenship, is even rather than being regarded as a sim- One example here: in addition to broader; it is in many ways my favorite pleton or a bore, and they would also neuroscience, my Bowdoin grand- of the four. be better prepared to relish solitude, daughter Charlotte is also planning to
38 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 concentrate in art history, a passion that a book with that title in 1997. And rical ability, and even take some risks. she never knew she had until she got it nicely loops back to my third and Don’t feel you have to confine your to Bowdoin and discovered the excel- fourth arguments: liberal knowledge, arguments to sober and conventional lent museum, fine arts department, and sweet and powerful, broadens our per- arenas. However, you also have to be engaging colleagues. Although there spective beyond the narrow confines of savvy and cagey, or your theatricality are good art works in her home, no one our own experience, and makes us good can backfire; as Cronin says, this is a in her family is an artist, so this is not citizens not just of our countries, but of particularly baffling kind of art. something she cared much about as she the whole world. As the time-honored In my book Thinking about was growing up; instead, it’s a newly phrase used by the presidents of several Leadership, I define a leader as follows: discovered personal dimension that will colleges and universities in conferring “Leaders determine or clarify goals for a enrich her life immeasurably going for- the baccalaureate degree would have it, ward. And that’s my fourth argument “I welcome you to the company of edu- for a liberal arts education: furnishing cated men and women.” the back room of your mind, preparing So, five nested arguments for the A liberal arts yourself for both society and solitude. liberal arts: a) providing the “deep My final argument for the liberal background” materials people need for education arts will resonate with many of you in their professions and business occupa- this gathering, although it is unlikely tions, in a long-term, capacious fashion admits you to to convince the skeptics. This is the ar- rather than a narrowly technical imme- gument that a liberal arts education diacy that will quickly become obso- a community admits you to a community of schol- lete; b) honing the mind with skills that of scholars, ars, both professional and amateur, are useful in any profession, and any spanning the ages. Here I would quote life; c) preparing us well for citizenship both professional one of my predecessors as president of in a democracy; d) furnishing the back Wellesley, Alice Freeman (later Alice room of the mind; and admitting us to a and amateur, Freeman Palmer). When she presided community of learned and curious men over Wellesley in the last part of the and women, making us better citizens spanning the ages. 19th century, it was quite unusual for not only for our communities and our girls to go to college (as indeed it still country, but the world. group of individuals and bring together is today in some parts of the world). the energies of members of that group She gave a well-known speech to an- Presidential leadership to accomplish those goals.” Leaders swer the repeated question she got Armed with these arguments and do this in all kinds of groups, from the from girls and their families, “Why others you will devise or read about, most informal committee to the larg- Go to College?” Alice Freeman said: how do you, as a college president, est nation state. The responsibilities of “We go to college to know, assured that go about making the case for the lib- the president of a college or university knowledge is sweet and powerful, that eral arts? What tactics should you use? are among the weightiest of the forms a good education emancipates the mind Here’s an especially delicious quote of leadership. If you take my definition and makes us citizens of the world.” from President Emeritus of Whitman as one guide to action, you can think of The sweet and powerful knowledge College Tom Cronin, who notes that your role as a presidential leader in this imparted by a liberal arts education “effective leadership remains in many way: you are clarifying what a liberal is specifically designed to fulfill this ways the most baffling of the perform- arts education means for your college promise, as no other kind of education ing arts. Intuition, flare, risk-taking, (and the world), and galvanizing the can be: it emancipates the mind, and and sometimes even theatrical ability energies of the faculty and trustees and makes us citizens of the world. come into play.” This point really res- student leaders to pursue that goal. In Alice Freeman Palmer’s phrase onates for me, as I’m sure it does for fact, one of the primary responsibilities “citizen of the world” has impec- some of you as well. Leadership is it- for you as president of a liberal arts col- cable liberal arts credentials. It was self an art, and to make the case for the lege is to support the liberal arts, which first coined by Plutarch to describe liberal arts you should be quite ready to are basic to the historic mission and Socrates. Martha Nussbaum published use your personal flare, intuition, theat- (Continued on page 71)
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 39 by Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan
Can We MEET the CHALLENGE? Research universities must become more agile, collaborative, global in focus, and open to risk. R Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in TIME, October 7, 2013. How will it feel to become a second- who once would have chosen to live in ling global climate change, for exam- class nation? Inferior in technological America now plan on returning home ple. Recognizing the complexity of the innovation, second class in artistic cre- because they see a bright future for problems we face augurs the capac- ativity, a follower rather than a leader? their scientific work there, and U.S. im- ity to solve them—as a nation and as This is possible—not certain—but a migration standards impose barriers to global citizens. very real danger if the United States retaining this trained talent. No other American institution ri- continues on its present course. This might not be so worrisome if vals higher education’s commitment The United States can claim 35 of U.S. undergraduate enrollment in math to discovering and sharing knowledge the world’s top 50 research universities, and science fields could meet our long- at its most basic level. At the research but we face intense competition from term need for research scientists. We university I lead, we have developed other nations that see the economic ad- know it cannot. Only a small fraction powerful partnerships regionally and vantage of strong research universities. of our undergraduates study the natural internationally to benefit our state and The U.S. share of global research sciences or engineering compared with the larger world. spending declined from 39 percent in near majorities in Singapore, China, The University of Michigan, 1999 to 34 percent in 2010 and is ex- and France. Michigan State University, and Wayne pected to keep falling, according to a While in earlier times, our coun- State University, all public universities, 2012 report from the National Academy try rallied around science, education, began collaborating in 2006 by form- of Sciences. While the growth in U.S. and advanced learning, today these are ing the University Research Corridor spending on R&D is increasing by 3.2 not national priorities. We confuse the (URC) to leverage the tremendous percent per year, China is escalating prevalence of modern technology with strengths of our scientists. Today the its investment at six times that rate (20 national strength in science. But the core URC ranks among the country’s top percent), and other nations are expand- of technology, as well as other advances, university research regions. ing advanced education on a scale mir- is science. Nations on the rise see sup- The University of Michigan is also roring that of the United States in the port of research universities as an invest- working with Qatar University to con- last century. ment in the future; unfortunately, many duct social science research in Gulf Moreover, we now see a reverse of Americans speak of it only as a cost. states; with the University of Ghana to the “brain drain” that brought so much Vigorous concerted action to sup- train OB/GYNs to be experts in fam- talent to our shores. Four in 10 stu- port basic research is paramount in ily planning; and with the University of dents pursuing science and engineer- contemporary America. Putting a man São Paulo to better understand adrenal ing doctorates at U.S. universities are on the moon was extraordinary but cancer’s prevalence in Brazil. from other countries. Many of them relatively simple compared with tack- For U.S. universities to maximize
40 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Number of patent applications from leading countries in 2001 and 2011
600,000 2001 2011 526,412 503,582 500,000
400,000 326,471 300,000
104,612 100,000 63,450 42,291 34,090 41,414 17,204 22,686 10,592 0 Brazil China India Russia South Korea U.S.
source: thomson reuters derwent world patents index, appearing in the chronicle of higher education almanac, 2013-14 their strengths, we must be decisive, cre- tion, not only for low-income students Number of foreign-born students ative, agile, and inclusive. That means: but also for students from middle-class enrolled in graduate science and n families who face hardship owing to Supporting a culture of risk- engineering programs in the U.S. taking. Faculty seeking grant funding the recent recession. Widening our (based on country of residence) often must demonstrate how a project doors develops the talents of all of our in 2009 might be directly applicable to a prac- citizens, including bringing more ex- 1. India 61,420 tical advance. But the most creative ceptional students into STEM fields. 2. China 42,440 n and novel studies—the ones that often Spending public money ef- 3. South Korea 10,120 do lead to breakthroughs—can some- ficiently, encouraging greater phil- 4. Taiwan 6,530 times be stymied. We must ensure that anthropic support, and ensuring that 5. Turkey 3,480 our best minds have the support to fol- students complete degrees in a timely 6. Canada 3,120 low innovation wherever it leads. At manner can motivate taxpayers, cor- 7. Other countries 45,160 Michigan, for example, we’re commit- porations, foundations, and state and Total 172,270 ting $100 million for medical research- federal governments to strengthen their source: national science foundation ers to conduct novel science in a “fast support for our endeavors. forward” manner. n Ensuring that strong under- n Intensifying interdisciplinary graduate teaching is part of the larger Top 10 U.S. doctoral institutions research. Advances in medicine, for research continuum. At Michigan, we with most foreign students, instance, will depend on combinations emphasize that research and teaching as of 2012 of biology, nanotechnology, informa- are not antithetical; we are proud of the 1. University of Southern California 9,269 tion sciences, and engineering. When fact that we are one of the great univer- 2. University of Illinois at Urbana- 8,997 Michigan pledged $30 million to hire sities of the country, distinguished in Champaign 100 junior faculty members—dur- both teaching and research, and that we 3. New York University 8,660 ing the depths of the recession—the help create the next generation of lead- 4. Purdue University 8,563 5. Columbia University 8,024 qualification was that scholars work ers, scientists, and an educated citizenry. 6. UCLA 6,703 in teams, across boundaries, to tackle Now more than ever, the research 7. Northeastern University 6,486 society’s thorniest problems. Emerging university must provide a thriving cul- 8. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor 6,382 combinations will yield unimaginable ture for entrepreneurs and risk takers 9. Michigan State University 6,209 discoveries that will improve lives. whose discoveries will help us meet to- 10. Ohio State University 6,142 n Expanding our reach by offer- day’s challenges and position ourselves source: institute of international education ing a high-quality, affordable educa- to meet tomorrow’s. ■
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 41 by John Etchemendy, Provost, Stanford University
Are Our Colleges and Universities FAILI NG US? R Few days pass by without an arti- is dominated by salaries, not debt greater efficiency, but colleges, stu- cle appearing in a major newspaper or payments on a new rec center—they dents, and parents all recognize that this magazine highlighting a failure of one represent. Though they may make for entails a sacrifice in quality. Ironically, sort or another on the part of American an attention-grabbing story, they can the most commonly cited measure of colleges and universities. Many focus hardly explain a 30-year trend that has educational quality, student-faculty on very real financial concerns sur- affected costs at even the most pedes- ratio, can also be viewed as a measure rounding the rising cost of higher edu- trian of college campuses. of inefficiency. cation in the U.S. Average tuition costs In fact, the rate of increase in the Every service industry that has not have gone up faster than the rate of in- cost of higher education for the past benefited from sweeping efficiency in- flation since the early 1980s, and this 30 years has exactly matched the rate creases and that relies on highly edu- creates legitimate concern about the of increase in the cost of dental ser- cated service providers is subject to the continued affordability of a college ed- vices, legal services, and, for most of same economic forces.3 And the result ucation for today’s young people. The those years, physician services.2 What has been a similar, long-term cost pro- cost of college today is, in inflation- dentists, lawyers, and physicians have file in each of these industries. Fancy adjusted terms, roughly double what it in common is that they are highly edu- dorms and climbing walls are not the was in 1980. cated service providers whose indus- cause of the problem. Would that they Few of these articles take a deep tries have not yet been transformed by were, since that would make the solu- or serious look at the reasons for this efficiency gains brought about by new tion easy. As it is, finding a more effi- increase. Many reporters (and their technology. It still takes one dentist cient way to deliver a truly high-quality editors) seem satisfied with superficial about 20 minutes to fill one tooth, and college education is extremely diffi- explanations that point to a lavish new although the filling is probably far bet- cult, but is the only way to solve the dorm at one college or a new recreation ter than it was 30 years ago, the dentist cost crisis in higher education. Many center (with obligatory climbing wall) still needs to be paid for that 20 min- promising experiments are now going at another.1 They don’t stop to think utes. Just so, it still takes one profes on, including so-called “MOOCs,” how rare and recent these collegiate Taj sor an hour to teach a one-hour class massive open online courses, but it Mahals really are, or what a tiny frac- to 40 students. Sure, classes could all remains to be seen whether these or tion of a university’s budget—which be doubled or tripled in size to achieve related technologies will yield high-
1 See, for example, “U.S. Colleges Get Swanky: Golf Courses, Climbing Walls, Saunas,” Bloomberg News, June 24, 2005; “Resort Living Comes to Campus,” The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2012; “Oh, So That’s Why College Is So Expensive,” Forbes, Aug. 28, 2012; “Climbing costs strain colleges, families: Schools add amenities, expand to compete for students,” Baltimore Sun, May 12, 2009. For an excellent discussion of how little these amenities have actually contributed to college costs, see Climbing Walls and Climbing Tuitions, Rita Kirshstein and James Kadamus, The Delta Cost Project, American Institutes of Research, 2012. 2 For an excellent and careful analysis of the rising college costs, see Why Does College Cost So Much? by Robert Archibald and David Feldman, Oxford University Press, 2011. 3 See Archibald and Feldman (2011) for a discussion of these forces. They argue that there are two main reasons costs for these services increase faster than the consumer price index (CPI). First, industries that show significant efficiency gains (such as manufacturing) tend to pull down CPI, and so those that do not show comparable gains (in this case, service industries) become more expensive relative to CPI. Second, as wages for highly educated workers increase relative to less educated workers (largely due to increases in technology), the cost of services requiring highly educated providers further outpaces overall inflation. These two factors explain a large part of the increase in college costs, though there are clearly other factors at work as well, including significant increases in instructional and support services provided on most campuses today.
42 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 quality substitutes for significant parts cent of students have no debt when they None of this is to say that the cost of the undergraduate curriculum. graduate and 60 percent have debt of of college and the magnitude of college Efficiency gains result from price more than $30,000.4 Since these insti- debt are not real concerns. They are, competition, and U.S. colleges and tutions disproportionately serve lower- and they pose a serious threat to the universities, while highly competitive, income students, these levels of debt accessibility of college for an increas- have traditionally competed on the can leave their students in severe fi- ingly large portion of our populace. basis of quality, not price. This leads nancial straits. Still, for-profit colleges But no progress will be made on either to fierce competition for high-quality educate a relatively small segment of issue without understanding what is faculty and creates pressure to decrease the overall student population, though really going on. As in medicine, treat- rather than increase the student-faculty the segment is rapidly growing. ments based on faulty diagnoses are ratio. It also leads to expansions of non- Many people were shocked when often far worse than no treatment at all. instructional staff to provide new and total student debt exceeded the nation’s improved services to both students and cumulative credit card debt. This cer- The value of a college faculty, and has pushed some campuses tainly deserves a story, but also war- education to upgrade their dorms and recreation rants some thoughtful analysis. For The most deeply troubling charge centers—in a few cases, to extremes. example, not a single commentator has leveled at U.S. colleges and universi- But the key cause of the cost crisis pointed out that this increase coincides ties concerns the value of the education is the basic economic fact described with nationwide changes in consumer they provide their students. It has long above. Unless we find a way to deliver spending habits. College has long been been assumed that a college education a college education in a substantially an expense that families spread over yields significant benefits both for the more efficient fashion, its growth in many years. At one time, it was com- individual who receives the education cost will continue to outpace inflation. mon to build college savings accounts and for the nation as a whole. It has There has also been a great deal of in anticipation of eventual tuition bills. become a platitude that a college de- focus on the related issue of growing Now, college savings have become less gree is needed to successfully compete student debt. There is no question this common, only to be replaced by addi- for a job in the so-called “knowledge is an increasing problem. But again, tional college debt.5 These are simply economy,” and that national competi- few articles have given it the careful alternative strategies for spreading tu- tiveness increasingly depends on the treatment it deserves, opting instead to ition costs over multiple years. And, proportion of our population who re- highlight stories of students borrowing like it or not, the substitution of debt ceive post-secondary educations. over a hundred thousand dollars to fi- for savings has become the preferred But even this has been challenged nance their bachelor’s degree. But these method for making most major pur- in recent years. Some of the challenges examples are extremely rare. Indeed in chases, whether of a refrigerator or a are as superficial as articles attributing 2007-08, the median debt nationwide college education. Layaway plans and the college cost crisis to lavish dorms. of graduating seniors at non-profit college savings accounts have given For example, investor Peter Thiel gen- colleges and universities was roughly way to credit cards and college loans. erated great fanfare by launching a $10,000 and 36 percent graduated with Most economists agree that, other scholarship program that pays high no debt at all. Thanks to financial aid, things equal, a higher savings rate is school graduates not to go to college, at Stanford, as at many of the “most healthier than increasing consumer but to launch businesses instead. This expensive” universities in the country, debt. But setting that aside, how con- is based on his hunch that a college the median debt of graduating seniors cerned should we be that educational education does not improve one’s en- is zero (three-quarters graduate with debt now exceeds credit card debt? As trepreneurial skills, and so for these no debt at all) and the average indebt- consumer choices go, I could imagine students would be a waste of time. edness of a graduating senior is less much worse decisions than spending Thiel’s hunch ignores a great deal than $5,000. more on college education than on cur- of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, The story is more sobering at for- rent consumption. At least college is an even commonly cited entrepreneurs profit colleges, where less than 10 per- investment in the future. who launched successful companies
4 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), 2007-2008, cumulative borrowing by sector, http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/npsas/xls/B9_CumDebtLumpSectorBA08-09.xls. 5 According to a recent Moody’s investor report, in just the last three years, the proportion of families with any college savings dropped from 60 percent to 50 percent, and those who saved set aside an average of only $11,781, down from $21,615 three years ago. (Moody’s Investor Service, March 12, 2013.)
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 43 before completing college often de- did not view the degree as an iron- The Collegiate Learning Assess- veloped the core ideas, found their clad guarantee of anything. ment test, or “CLA” as it is widely partners, and did initial development Still, while anecdotal reports known, is a standardized test designed work while still in college. The fact may not be good evidence, it is ex- to measure general competencies in that the diploma itself was not a key to tremely important to ask whether critical thinking, analytical reasoning, their success hardly detracts from the American colleges and universi- problem solving, and writing. These benefits, educational and otherwise, ties are producing graduates with general skills are widely considered that they derived from their college ex- the kinds of skills needed in the by both employers and educators to be perience. And of course, the reality is modern workplace. This is why among the most important workplace that the vast majority of young people few books about higher education skills, and enhancing them is univer- would be ill advised to gamble their fu- have received as much attention, ei- sally recognized as one of the primary ture on a high-risk entrepreneurial ven- ther in the popular press or among goals of a college education. The ture, just like most would be ill advised policymakers, as Academically most widely cited conclusion drawn to bet on becoming a movie star. Adrift: Limited Learning on College by Arum and Roksa from their data is Of far more concern are reports Campuses, by Richard Arum and that 45 percent of the undergraduates from employers that college students Josipa Roksa. studied showed no measurable gains in are graduating without the skills needed In this book, Arum and Roksa these crucial skills. to succeed in the workplace. Now, a present the results of an extensive This would be a devastating indict- college education is not job training, study of students at a large and rep- ment of the higher education system at least in the narrow sense, and was resentative sample of U.S. colleges in the U.S.—if it were correct. It turns never intended to be. But it most cer- and universities. Based on these re- out, though, that the evidence presented tainly should equip students with gen- sults, they argue that a large propor- by Arum and Roksa falls far short of eral knowledge, skills, and habits of tion of students at today’s colleges justifying the sweeping claims made mind that provide the foundation for and universities show little or no in their book, as I will eventually ex- productive employment. If colleges are improvement on the key reasoning plain. But before looking at the details failing at this basic task, then students and communication skills expected of the study, it is important to pause and parents are right to ask whether of a college graduate and demanded and review some powerful, general rea- they get their money’s worth from high in today’s employment marketplace. sons to approach their conclusion with tuition, and taxpayers are right to ques- They conclude that all too many stu- a healthy degree of skepticism. Chief tion whether the government should dents, as well as the colleges they among those reasons are certain basic continue subsidizing student loans. attend, are “academically adrift.” economic facts that are well known but Of course, complaining about The picture Arum and Roksa rarely appreciated for what they show. perceived or imagined failings of the paint is a sobering one: The first of these is the wide and grow- younger generation is nothing new, so An astounding proportion ing discrepancy between the earnings isolated reports from employers are of students are progressing of college graduates and the earnings of hardly evidence that the college degree through higher education today those who do not go to college. stands for less now than it did twenty, without measurable gains thirty, or fifty years ago. There have in general skills as assessed The college premium always been plenty of students who by the [Collegiate Learning We all know that, on average, col- made it through college without much Assessment test]. While they lege graduates earn more than those growth in practical skills to show for it. may be acquiring subject-spe- who do not go to college. Indeed, ac- This prompted Henry Ford, as far back cific knowledge or greater self- cording to a recent study by Daron as 1934, to comment, “A man’s college awareness on their journeys Acemoglu and David Autor, the college and university degrees mean nothing to through college, many students premium—the difference between the me until I see what he is able to do with are not improving their skills in earnings of the average college gradu- them.” Ford was a great supporter of critical thinking, complex rea- ate and the average high school (only) education, but as his remark shows, he soning, and writing.6 graduate—stands at record levels. They
6 Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, Chicago (2011), p. 36.
44 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 calculate that the “earnings of the aver- cation does not, on average, increase an stantial wage premium at least in part age college graduate in 2008 exceeded individual’s earnings. for traits and skills that are acquired or those of the average high school gradu- In another study, Zaback, Carlson, honed during college. ate by 97 percent.”7 In other words, col- and Crellin arrive at similar figures for lege graduates on average earn nearly the overall college premium, but also Is college a passive filter? twice as much as those who do not go look at the premium for different col- Let’s consider the first possibil- to college. There is little question that lege majors and in different states of ity. Some people have claimed that the this is the largest college premium in the union.9 They find that the magni- main benefit of a college degree is that history, and certainly the widest gap tude of the premium varies by major (a it signals a set of abilities and traits that since comparative wage data became science and engineering major earns a graduates bring to college, not char- available in the early 20th century. 95 percent premium, while an arts and Other authors, using very different humanities major earns 55 percent), methodologies, come to similar con- and by state (ranging from a 40 percent clusions. For example, while the figure premium in South Dakota to 88 percent It is important to ask cited above averages the earnings of all in California). But there is no combi- college graduates, including those with nation of major and state that does not whether American advanced degrees, Carnevale, Rose, see a wage premium for a baccalaure- and Cheah estimate that the projected ate degree.10 colleges and median lifetime earnings of those with If it is true that almost half of to- universities are a baccalaureate degree alone are 74 day’s students show “no measurable percent higher than the earnings of gains in general skills” as they proceed producing graduates those with just a high school degree.8 through college, then how can we ac- Perhaps more interesting, these au- count for the large and growing dis- with the kind of skills thors find a college premium in almost crepancy between the incomes of those needed in the every line of work, even those that do with and without a college degree? not require a college degree. For ex- Why are employers paying so much modern workplace. ample, food service managers and re- more for employees who have gradu- tail salespersons—occupations open ated from college, even in lines of work acteristics they acquire while they are even to those with no high school di- where the degree is not a requirement there. On this hypothesis, colleges play ploma—benefit from a college educa- for entry and even for majors that pro- a primarily sorting or filtering role, and tion: in these professions, workers with vide no directly relevant job training? employers simply rely on this filter a bachelor’s degree earn between 50 Of course, raw economic data do when they seek highly skilled work- and 65 percent more than those with not prove causality, only correlation. ers. Employers are paying a premium only a high school diploma. Other pro- But assuming we can rule out some not for how the college experience fessions show more modest benefits kind of mass delusion on the part of the has molded or transformed prospec- from the college degree, such as stock employers of America, there seem to be tive employees, but rather, so to speak, clerks, waiters, and security guards. In only two possibilities: The first is that for the raw material, the preexisting these professions, the college premium employers are rewarding something traits that led to their original admis- ranges from 18 percent (stock clerks) other than skills that are gained or im- sion and eventual completion of the to 45 percent (security guards). Rare is proved during college, perhaps general college degree. the occupation that exhibits no college intelligence, persistence, or some other This hypothesis does not stand up premium at all: mail carriers, carpen- characteristic not substantially affected to scrutiny, for a number of reasons. ters, and truck drivers are among the by the college experience. The only al- Consider first the signal sent by college few lines of work where a college edu- ternative is that employers pay the sub- admission. College admission, at least
7 “Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings,” Daron Acemoglu and David Autor, NBER Working Paper No. 16082 (2010), p. 7. 8 The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings, Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose, and Ban Cheah, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (2011), p. 4. 9 The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees: A State and National Level Analysis, Katie Zaback, Andy Carlson, and Matt Crellin, State Higher Education Officers Association (2012). 10 Among standard baccalaureate majors, the lowest premium is 27 percent for social and behavioral science majors in New Hampshire and South Dakota.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 45 to highly selective institutions, no doubt brings to college, rather than skills they chance to finish their degrees. Less tal- signals something about the individual acquire during their college experi- ented athletes, those not lured by early, admitted. Admission to a selective col- ence. To be sure, college athletes fur- highly lucrative recruitment offers, have lege is, after all, a filter. But employers ther develop their athletic skills while more time to complete their degrees. could easily replicate this kind of filter playing at the college level. But for If employers were primarily using themselves, by requiring that applicants the most part, professional coaches are college as a signal of general intel- supply the same material required by just as equipped as college coaches to ligence, plus perhaps the ambition to college admission offices—SAT scores, give young athletes the necessary train- apply and get into a selective college, high school records, and so forth. For ing and experience in their sport. The then we would expect to see much that matter, they could employ former college degree itself, and the academic more hiring behavior like professional accomplishments it signifies, are irrel- sports leagues. But such early recruit- evant to their hiring decisions. ment is virtually unheard of in any And what is the consequence of this other profession. If the degree were situation? Put simply, the frequency of It is also important to recognize that college degrees among professional the prior discussion assumes that college simply a signal of athletes is directly proportional to the admission is selective. But in fact, most restrictiveness of the league rules gov- college students do not attend schools traits students bring erning rookie hiring. Major League whose admission is highly selective, and to college, not a mark Baseball has the least restrictive rules, the college premium that needs to be ex- allowing recruitment directly out of plained is not limited to alumni of those of what they get while high school. As a result, a total of 39 institutions. It measures the average MLB players who played in a major wage benefit across graduates of all col- there, then at [highly league game last year—roughly 4 leges and universities. So the hypothesis selective] colleges, percent—had college degrees.11 The that employers are using college admis- National Basketball Association is sion as a filter is doubly flawed: it does we should see slightly more restrictive; its “one and not stand up to scrutiny for selective col- done” rule allows recruitment after a leges, and even if it did, most college employers recruiting single year of college play. Roughly 20 admission is not highly selective. percent of NBA players have college Of course, it might be that the signal students as soon as degrees. The National Football League employers are looking for is not admis- they are admitted. has the most restrictive rules, and also sion to college but the fact that the indi- the highest proportion of college gradu- vidual persisted in pursuing a four-year ates among its players. Approximately degree. This is another way in which college admission officers to assist in half of NFL players have completed a college acts as a filter: graduates were their hiring. Alternatively, they could baccalaureate degree.12 not only admitted, they also stuck with begin recruiting freshmen who have al- Although there is no source of data the college project for four long years. ready been admitted to a selective col- to prove or disprove this, it is probably This requires a certain level of ability, lege, rather than waiting until they finish the case that among professional ath- commitment, and motivation that would their degree. This is basically what pro- letes, the college premium is actually certainly interest most employers. fessional sports leagues do, hiring play- negative: those with a college degree Now we should be careful to re- ers as soon as league rules allow. very likely have lower salaries on aver- member the hypothesis we are consid- The example of professional sports age than those without. This would be a ering. Obviously, a bachelor’s degree leagues is instructive. This is a case predictable result of the fact that the most does signal, among other things, the am- where employers are indeed primarily prized and talented athletes are recruited bition and persistence required to finish interested in traits the student athlete out of college long before they have a the degree. There is no debate about
11 “College Grads in Baseball a Rare Breed,” Jon Paul Morosi, Fox Sports, May 18, 2012, http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/curtis-granderson-college-grads-in-baseball- a-rare-breed-051712. 12 “N.B.A. Players Make Their Way Back to College,” Jonathan Abrams, The New York Times, October 5, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/sports/basketball/06nba. html.
46 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 that. The question is whether employ- To the extent that a baccalaureate serves merely as a filter, that employers ers pay a premium only for a graduate’s degree is simply a mark of diligence and are interested primarily in the raw ma- preexisting character traits, and not for persistence, we would expect employ- terial, not how that material has been skills and traits that are developed and ers to reward equally their more expe- molded or transformed by the college improved due to the college experience. rienced employees. And yet the average experience. It would be extremely hard In other words, is college more like the high school graduate with five or even to explain employer behavior if they TV show Survivor, with the college ten years of employment experience still are not rewarding traits and skills that degree awarded to those who are moti- does not earn close to what the average students obtain or improve during their vated and talented enough to complete a college graduate earns, even with little time at college. Given that fact, what sequence of otherwise pointless tasks? or no experience. This is hardly surpris- are we to make of the economic data Again, both salary data and em- ing. After all, an excellent high school surrounding the college premium? ployer behavior suggest otherwise. For record plus four years of diligent work As any economist will tell you, example, if the college premium were experience does not qualify you for the the college premium is a measure of primarily rewarding character traits kinds of jobs and pay levels open to the value employers place on the skill like diligence and tenacity, traits that those with a similar high school record (and consequent productivity) differ- may well be indicated by a college de- plus a college degree. Yet that is exactly ential between college graduates and gree, then we would expect individuals what we would expect if the pure “sort- those with lower levels of education. who enter college but fail to complete ing and filtering” model were accurate. Thus the college premium can be af- a degree to suffer a penalty compared Consider one final piece of evi- fected by a number of different factors. to those who complete high school but dence. A number of colleges and Traditional economic theory focuses on choose to enter the employment mar- universities, particularly the most selec- the relative supply of and demand for ket immediately. After all, the former tive, have graduation rates well above the skills represented by a college de- individuals have proven that they did 90 percent. Students admitted to these gree. For example, it is well understood not have the required diligence and te- colleges not only have outstanding high that the relative demand for highly nacity to complete the college project school records, they are also virtually skilled labor increases as technology on which they embarked. But in fact guaranteed to graduate. If the college transforms the workplace. Technology the data point in the opposite direction. degree were simply a signal of abilities tends to decrease the need for large Individuals who begin college but fail to and traits students bring to college, not a numbers of unskilled laborers, but also complete any degree still enjoy a 20 per- mark of what they get while there, then requires more highly skilled workers cent wage premium above high school at least at these colleges, we should see to implement, operate, and maintain. graduates who go directly into the work employers recruiting students as soon Recent history has seen a large increase force. This is exactly what we would as they are admitted. They have already in technological innovation, and this in expect if the premium actually rewards demonstrated the intelligence and am- turn has increased the relative demand skills improved during college, not the bition required for admission to the for skilled over unskilled workers. persistence required to finish a degree.13 most selective schools, and their even- The other side of the economic Moreover, there are many other tual graduation is almost a sure bet. story is the relative supply of the skills ways to demonstrate persistence and Why wait four years to hire them, when in question: are there enough educated diligence. The most simple and obvi- they could be spending those years workers in the workforce to meet the ous is to hold down a job for several productively employed? And yet, once demand, or too few or too many? In the years. Indeed, holding down a job is a again, outside of professional sports, no U.S., the supply of college graduates has significantly better signal of the ability employers choose to do this. continually increased since the 1950s, to hold down a job in the future than though the rate of increase has not been having gotten through college. Other The economic data constant. The increase was quite rapid things equal, the more similar the evi- Clearly, there is strong evidence during the late ’60s through the ’70s, dence, the better the predictive power. against the hypothesis that college but slowed down during the ’80s and
13 Carnavale, et al., p. 3. Note that these are all, by definition, individuals who are in occupations that do not require a college degree. These occupations tend to be lower paying and also have smaller college premiums. For example, security guards with a baccalaureate degree earn about 45 percent more than those with only a high school degree, while those with some college but no degree earn about 20 percent more than those with only a high school degree. This explains why the premium for some college but no degree is only slightly more than a quarter of the premium for a baccalaureate degree.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 47 ’90s. And as it turns out, the college the same, then we would expect the might pay more for college graduates premium actually decreased from 1970 relative value of college graduates to in- even if there are more of them available to 1980, no doubt because the rapidly crease, even though their absolute skill and the incremental skills they each growing supply of college graduates level remained the same. On the other bring to the workplace have gone down. outpaced any increase in demand. Since hand, if the skills of college graduates This seems fairly unlikely, but is 1980, however, the college premium has dropped while those of high school hard to rule out entirely without a di- steadily grown, thanks to a combination graduates remained the same, we would rect gauge of changing U.S. demand of increasing wages of college gradu- see the college premium decline. The for skilled labor, one that is indepen- ates and decreasing wages of those with gap in skills is what matters, and if this dent of the college premium itself. But only high school degrees.14 From 1980 grows or shrinks, so too will the college no such measure is available. We can, to the present, the college premium in premium. however, learn something by looking at the U.S. has almost doubled. The central question raised by Arum international data. Since the workplace There is another factor, besides and Roksa in Academically Adrift is technology driving today’s demand for the aggregate supply and demand for whether U.S. colleges have in recent skilled workers is cheap and widely skilled labor, that can affect the college years become less effective in imparting available in the developed world, it is premium. Remember that the college important workplace skills to their grad- reasonable to assume that there is ap- premium measures the relative wages uates. To put this important question proximate parity in the demand for a of college and high school graduates. another way, has the skill differential be- skilled workforce in other highly de- But of course, employer demand is for tween high school graduates (the “raw veloped economies. So it is instructive workforce skills, not diplomas. As we material” entering college) and college to look at the college premiums paid in said earlier, the premium is a measure of graduates (the output) decreased? other developed countries. the value employers place on the differ- At first glance, it is hard to square Unfortunately, systems of second- ential skills of these two groups of work- such a decrease with the economic ary (high school) and tertiary (college) ers. But that differential could change. data, with the continued growth in the education vary a great deal in different For example, suppose there came a U.S. of the college premium. Other developed countries. In some countries, point where there were no differences things equal, a decrease in the skill such as the United Kingdom, second- in the skills of a college graduate and a differential should result in a shrink- ary education goes further while the high school graduate. Very quickly, the ing of the premium, not continued first college degree is more specialized college premium would trend toward growth. But of course, other things are than in the U.S. In other words, much zero. There would still be differential not equal: changes in either the supply of what is covered in the first year or demand for workers with different skill of college graduates or the demand for so of college in the U.S. is already cov- levels, but if the college degree no lon- their skills might disguise changes in ered in secondary schools in the U.K. ger indicated a higher level of skills, the skill differential represented by a Conversely, college education in the employers would not be willing to pay a college degree. U.K. roughly matches the last two or premium for those who hold the degree. Now as we mentioned earlier, the three years of a U.S. college degree. This introduces a layer of complex- relative supply of college graduates in The overall target is approximately the ity, but an extremely important one, to the U.S. has continually increased dur- same, but the secondary/tertiary divi- the college premium. After all, the rela- ing the postwar period, including in re- sion of labor is somewhat different. tive skills of high school and college cent decades. Other things equal, this Because of these differences, there graduates—and hence the underlying would also lead to a decrease in the col- are fewer confounding variables if we value to employers—could change if lege premium, and so would accentuate, look at the premium paid for college there were significant changes in the not counteract, a decline in the college graduates compared to unskilled or educational effectiveness of either high skill differential. So the only potentially minimally skilled workers, that is, in- schools or colleges. For example, if the confounding factor is changing demand dividuals who did not complete their average skills of students graduating for skilled labor. In particular, if de- secondary (high school) education. from high school dropped while those mand for skilled workers has increased It seems reasonable to assume that of college graduates remained roughly enough, then desperate employers the skill levels of workers who have
14 See Acemoglu and Autor (2010), Figures 1-4.
48 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 not completed high school, at least in ates, the resulting graph shows the the demand for workplace skills in the economically developed countries, are economically predicted decrease in the U.S. should differ strikingly from all fairly similar. Accordingly, let’s com- cost ratio as the supply of graduates other OECD countries, this would sug- pare the labor cost of a college graduate increases, with one notable exception: gest that the skill (and consequent pro- to the labor cost of an unskilled or mini- the United States is a clear outlier, with ductivity) differential is actually larger mally skilled worker in the 34 countries a substantially higher college premium in the U.S. than in other countries. that make up the Organization for Eco- than would be expected given its plen- It is very hard to square these data nomic Cooperation and Development tiful supply of graduates.17 with Arum and Roksa’s conclusion (OECD).15 The labor cost is the annual This anomaly prompts the follow- that colleges in the U.S. are failing to cost to the employer of hiring such a ing observation by the OECD authors: impart important workplace skills to worker, including wages, benefits, and The labour costs for tertiary grad their graduates. Of course, these au- other mandatory costs. It is the best uates in the United States are more thors focus on more recent graduates, measure of what employers are willing than 2.5 times those for individuals while the economic data we’ve exam- to pay for different levels of skill. without an upper secondary educa- ined so far deal with broad averages in The ratio of the average labor costs tion, even though educational at- the overall workforce. Would we see a across all 34 countries is 1.8. In other tainment levels are high (40%). This difference if we narrowed our view to words, on average employers are will- is likely a reflection that demand recent graduates? ing to pay 1.8 times as much for a col- still outstrips even a relatively large The answer is no. If we look at the lege graduate as they are for an unskilled supply of tertiary graduates, or that labor cost ratios among 25 to 34 year worker. In the U.S., unskilled workers productivity differentials between olds, the pattern remains roughly the cost employers an average of $35,700, these two educational categories same. In the U.S., the cost ratio be- very close to the overall OECD average [in the U.S.] are particularly large.18 tween 25 to 34 year old college grad- of $37,900. But a college graduate costs Since there is no apparent reason uates and 25 to 34 year old unskilled an employer $92,900, 2.6 times the cost of an unskilled worker. There are only four OECD countries whose cost Labor Cost Ratios vs. Tertiary Graduates: 25-64 year olds ratios equal or exceed 2.6: the Czech Republic (2.9), Hungary (2.9), Poland (2.8), and Slovenia (2.6). In each of 4.0 these countries the relative supply of 3.5 college graduates is among the lowest in the OECD, which accounts for their 3.0 U.S. high ratios. By contrast, in countries 2.5 where the supply of college graduates 2.0 is similar to the U.S., the labor cost ratio is substantially lower than ours.16 1.5 If you graph the labor cost ratios 1.0 of all the OECD countries against the 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% percentage of college (tertiary) gradu-
15 The data in the following discussion are drawn from Education at a Glance, 2011, OECD, Tables A10.1, A1.3a, and A10.2. For the purpose of this discussion, “college graduate” includes all graduates of tertiary education programs, including those we would call technical colleges, and “unskilled worker” includes anyone who has not completed their country’s counterpart of our 12-year high school education. In some countries, they may have completed vocational training programs, and so be somewhat more skilled than their U.S. counterparts. The OECD countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, (South) Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. 16 These countries and their labor cost ratios are: Israel (2.0), South Korea (2.0), United Kingdom (2.0), Australia (1.6), Canada (1.6), New Zealand (1.5), Finland (1.4) and Norway (1.4). 17 See Education at a Glance, 2011, Chart A10.3, which graphs data for 45-54 year-old workers. I have graphed the data for all workers from 25-64 years old, which is more inclusive and demonstrates the same point. If we graph the labor cost ratio of college graduates to high school graduates, rather than unskilled workers, the outcome is similar, although the ratios are obviously smaller. Here, the labor cost ratio in the U.S. is 1.7. The closest country with similar college attainment levels is Israel, at 1.6, and most fall well below 1.5. 18 Education at a Glance, 2011, p. 179, emphasis added.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 49 workers is 2.3, while the OECD aver- mary education does not compare well region increases a remarkable 17.4 per- age is 1.5. Only two other OECD coun- with primary education in many other cent. Similarly, the average worker’s tries have ratios in this age cohort that countries, and second, that U.S. higher wages in the region are boosted 17.8 are comparable to the U.S.: Hungary education remains the best in the world. percent. By contrast, “an additional (2.5) and Luxembourg (2.3). Again, year of education for workers with just Hungary’s high ratio is influenced by a Education and regional nine or 10 years of schooling has little low percentage of 25 to 34 year old col- prosperity effect on real GDP per capita or real lege graduates, but Luxembourg’s edu- So far, we’ve considered the eco- wages per worker.”21 cational attainment rates are similar to nomic effect of a college degree on The Milken study found large ours. Thus among this cohort of work- the individual receiving the degree. variations in how much the per capita But equally relevant is the effect of a GDP of metropolitan areas in the U.S. college-educated workforce on a com- changed from 1990 to 2010. And while munity or region’s economic produc- they identify several factors that con- It turns out that for tivity. A recent study by the Milken tribute to the variation, such as changes Institute tracked changes in educational in the mix of industries in a region, each additional year attainment levels and economic output they conclude that over 70 percent of for 261 U.S. metropolitan areas for the the variation is explained by the change of college, the years 1990, 2000, and 2010.19 Not sur- in education level of the region’s work- per capita GDP prisingly, they found that increases in force.22 Increasing the level of school- a region’s average level of education ing, particularly at the college level, of a region increases are strongly correlated with the area’s was by far the dominant driver of a re- gross domestic product per capita and gion’s productivity gains. a remarkable real wages per worker. Specifically, The focus of the Milken study on 17.4 percent. adding one year to the average educa- regional productivity gains sheds im- tion level of the workers in a region is portant light on the effectiveness of associated with a 10.5 percent increase U.S. colleges and universities. While ers, Luxembourg and the United States in per capita GDP and an 8.4 percent one might conceivably imagine that are the two standouts among OECD increase in average wages.20 the salary premium for a baccalaureate countries. There is no evidence here This is an impressive correlation, degree is the result of something other that the skill differential among recent but the Milken authors found that the than differential skills acquired in col- graduates of American colleges and effect is even more striking when the lege—say, the network of influential universities has declined in the least. added education is at the college level. contacts a graduate obtains—it is hard Comparative data on the wage In particular, they looked at the im- to see how anything other than differ- premium strongly suggest that col- pact of an additional year of school- ential skills could yield the kind of pro- lege graduates in the U.S. are more ing among workers who already had ductivity gains analyzed by the Milken productive relative to unskilled or at least a high school diploma. In other authors. If colleges are not increasing minimally skilled workers than college words, what happens if the average the workplace skills, that is, produc- graduates in other developed countries. education of high school graduates in tivity, of the individuals they educate, Furthermore, the data suggest that this a region increases from, say, 13.5 years then how can educating more members holds as much for recent graduates as (one and a half years of college) to 14.5 of a region’s workforce increase the for those who graduated years ago. years (two and a half years of college)? productivity of the region? The produc- This is consistent with two widely held It turns out that for each additional tivity must come from a more produc- views: first, that the U.S. system of pri- year of college, the per capita GDP of a tive workforce.
19 A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity, Ross C. DeVol, I-Ling Shen, Armen Bedroussian, and Nan Zhang, Milken Institute (2013). 20 The regional returns estimated by the Milken study are consistent with other recent studies. For example, Turner, et al., study the economic return to U.S. states as the average education level in the state increases. They estimate that “the return to a year of schooling for the average individual in a state ranges from 11% to 15%.” See “Education and Income in the States of the United States: 1840-2000,” Chad Turner, Robert Tamura, Sean Mulholland and Scott Baier, Journal of Economic Growth (2007). 21 A Matter of Degrees, p. 10. 22 A Matter of Degrees, p. 9.
50 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 The Milken study shows that there a wide variety of colleges and universi- What does the CLA measure? is a real economic benefit to college ties, and by most measures closely re- It is clear that the CLA measures education, not just a personal benefit sembles the overall student population something, if only the ability to per- to the individual receiving the degree. of the U.S. Since the study follows the form well on this and similar types of It also shows that American employers same set of students through the first tests. But does it measure the crucial are acting quite rationally when they three semesters of their college expe- skills and characteristics actually re- pay a premium for college-educated rience, it seems reasonable to assume quired in the workplace? This may not employees, since it allows them to cap- that the difference in individual scores be the case for two reasons. First, the ture the very real productivity gains measures the impact of the intervening CLA may be an accurate measure of that result from additional education. In semesters on the students’ performance general reasoning, analytical, and com- a sense, it completes the picture whose on this test. munication skills, but the workplace contours were suggested by the wage The CLA is a standardized test may put a higher value on the special- data previously reviewed. College intended to measure general skills in ized knowledge and skills that the CLA education produces a more productive critical thinking, analytical reason- does not even attempt to measure—say, worker, and that is why employers pay ing, problem solving, and writing. It quantitative skills or subject specific more for college graduates. does not assess more specific subject- knowledge. This could certainly ex- matter knowledge or other abilities that plain the divergence between Arum Arum and Roksa’s argument students may learn in their courses. and Roksa’s observations and the high All of the economic data point to Nonetheless, these general skills are value U.S. employers place on a col- the same conclusion: American col- widely considered among the most im- lege education. But if U.S. colleges are leges and universities are equipping portant workplace skills, and enhanc- successfully producing graduates with their graduates—and equipping them ing them is universally recognized as the skills most highly valued by em- remarkably well—with skills that en- one of the primary goals of a college ployers, even if not those measured by hance their productivity in the work- education. The CLA is a “constructed the CLA, it is hard to view Arum and place. This is the backdrop against response” test, relying on essay-style Roksa’s results as indicating a serious which we should assess the central responses rather than predetermined, problem. They are simply measuring argument of Academically Adrift. All multiple-choice answers. The test is the wrong thing. too many readers, in both the popular scored by human graders applying ru- No doubt specialized skills explain media and academic circles, have un- brics designed to ensure consistency some of the disconnect between Arum critically accepted Arum and Roksa’s in scoring. and Roksa’s results and the economic conclusions without the slightest Given the economic evidence run- data. Highly specialized knowledge hesitation. Like the verdict that col- ning counter to Arum and Roksa’s con- that can only or most easily be obtained lege costs are driven by lavish dorms, clusion, there are two questions—or in college certainly accounts for some the story seems almost too congenial really, clusters of questions—that we fraction of the college premium. But to criticize. need to consider. First, we need to ask this cannot be the whole story, or even Let’s look more carefully at Arum what exactly the CLA measures. Arum the dominant factor. For one thing, the and Roksa’s methodology to see if and Roksa assume that it measures the specialized knowledge and skills that we can understand how their conclu- key general skills most highly valued lead to the most highly paid profes- sion can run so counter to the brute in today’s workplace. But this assump- sions require graduate or professional economic evidence. Arum and Roksa tion might be mistaken for two sorts degrees, and the premium for a bac- base their argument on results obtained of reasons, which we will discuss in calaureate degree alone is already 74 by administering a standardized test, a moment. Second, we need to exam- percent. There are a small number of the Collegiate Learning Assessment ine Arum and Roksa’s interpretation undergraduate majors that provide pro- (CLA), to a large population of stu- of their data, to see if the conclusions fessional or quasi-professional train- dents. The test was administered twice, they draw from it are actually sup- ing, but the college premium is by no once during the first semester of their ported by the evidence. What does means limited to these majors. Indeed, freshman year, and then again during their data actually show, and is the specialized skills cannot begin to ex- the last semester of their sophomore situation as bleak as they make it out plain the striking breadth of the col- year. The population was drawn from to be? lege premium, the fact that it shows up
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 51 to a greater or lesser extent in virtually showed that differences in motivation with college students can attest, fresh- every line of work, and regardless of have a huge impact on students’ test men tend to arrive on campus with high the student’s major. This breadth must scores.23 Using a test designed to mea- enthusiasm, anxious to perform well, be due to more general skills and char- sure college-level reasoning, quantita- and slightly intimidated by authority. acteristics that are broadly acquired by tive, and communication skills, they By the end of sophomore year, these college graduates. found that motivated students, particu- characteristics lessen as students be- The second possibility is that the larly those who stand to personally ben- come more focused on their own stud- CLA is aimed at the right general skills, efit from their own high performance, ies and extracurricular pursuits, and but it may be a poor measure of those significantly outperformed students generally less pliant. The ETS authors skills, at least as they manifest them- in a control group who were not simi- conclude that “differential motivation selves in the workplace. It is easy to see larly motivated. The researchers found between freshmen and sophomores, in how this might be the case. The CLA is that the effect on performance was as addition to the low motivation in gen- a timed, standardized test, administered large as .68 standard deviations at one eral, was likely the key factor respon- in an artificial setting quite unlike that institution, the equivalent of a 25-per- sible for the limited learning reported encountered in an actual workplace. It centile performance difference for the in the Arum and Roksa study.” would not be surprising if the outcomes average student, and averaged .41 SD Whether or not this is the complete from this test do not correlate well with at the three institutions studied.24 By explanation, there is an important les- an individual’s ability to analyze prob- comparison, the average difference son to be learned from this study. Arum lems in the workplace, find optimal so- seen by Arum and Roksa between and Roksa’s application of the CLA, as lutions, and successfully communicate freshman and sophomore scores on the with most uses of testing for program or carry out those solutions. After all, CLA was .18 SD, the equivalent of a 7- rather than individual assessment, is the two tasks—standardized test taking percentile difference. an example of low-stakes testing, that and the average workplace challenge— The test used by the ETS research- is, testing whose results make little or could hardly be more dissimilar. They ers contained both a constructed no material difference to the test takers are performed on very different time response (essay) section and multiple- themselves. Low-stakes testing is ex- scales (one or two hours versus days or choice sections. Interestingly, they tremely vulnerable to the vagaries of weeks); they involve different levels of found that the impact of low motiva- student motivation. Unless measures motivation (a test whose results have tion was significantly larger on the are taken to ensure that the test takers no personal consequences compared essay section of their test—the part are actually motivated to perform to the to the highly salient consequences of most similar to the CLA—than on the best of their abilities, the results are of salary and career advancement); and multiple-choice sections. This stands questionable value. they permit entirely different strategies to reason since, as they note, “it takes The fundamental lesson might be (such as seeking advice from others, more effort and motivation for students put this way: low-stakes testing is not trial and error, and other approaches to construct an essay than to select even an accurate measure of the indi- precluded to the test taker). Even the from provided choices.”25 vidual’s capacity to perform well on communication skills measured by the Clearly, given the magnitude of this that very test. We began this discussion CLA—basically the ability to write a effect, even a slight change in motiva- by saying that the CLA measures, at the formal memo—are of uncertain rel- tion felt by students taking the CLA very least, the ability to perform well evance to a workplace dominated by as freshmen and then again as sopho- on tests of this sort, but in fact even that email and oral communication. mores could easily swamp any actual may be an unwarranted assumption. It would be a mistake to underes- change in their underlying skills. And Note that this problem is indepen- timate the importance of these differ- it is easy to see why student motivation dent of the question of whether the test, ences. Take, for example, motivation. might decline between the freshman even when taken by perfectly moti- A recent study by researchers from the and sophomore administrations of the vated subjects in ideal circumstances, Educational Testing Service, one of the test, and rather hard to imagine how accurately measures the real-world largest providers of standardized tests, it might increase. As anyone familiar skills that we are interested in and that
23 “Measuring Learning Outcomes in Higher Education: Motivation Matters,” Ou Lydia Liu, Brent Bridgeman, and Rachel M. Adler, Educational Researcher (2012). 24 Liu, Bridgeman, and Adler, p. 356. 25 Liu, Bridgeman, and Adler, p. 360.
52 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 we actually teach. We have already icant wage differential between those porters who consider it a state-of-the- described several reasons the CLA who perform highly on the test and art test of an extremely important set of may do a poor job of measuring ana- those who do not, once they enter the reasoning and communication skills. As lytical and problem-solving skills as workforce. Unfortunately, there is not a a logic professor who has taught these they manifest themselves in the actual lot of data on this key question, though skills for over thirty years, I certainly workplace. But there are others. For there is some. Arum and Roksa per- concur about their importance, even example, there are many general traits formed a follow-up survey of the col- though they may represent only a nar- and habits of mind that are resistant lege graduates from their Academically row sliver of the skills and character- to accurate measurement by standard- Adrift study.26 Among other things, they istics that contribute to success in the ized test, and yet are highly relevant to found that those who had, as seniors, workplace. workplace problem solving. Creativity, performed in the bottom quintile on the judgment, and the ability to work with CLA were three times more likely to others are obvious examples. be unemployed than those from the top The more we appreciate the sheer quintile (9.6 percent vs. 3.1 percent). It takes an extreme complexity of skills, character traits, But among those who were employed and habits of mind that affect an indi- full time, they did not find the expected leap of faith vidual’s performance in the workplace, wage differential. The average salary the more skeptical we should be that a of the top quintile ($35,097) was barely to think that a test standardized test can be devised that ac- higher than the average salary of the like the CLA can curately measures that ability. And this bottom quintile ($35,000), and the av- is why a quality undergraduate educa- erage salary of the middle three quin- accurately measure tion provides a wide range of subjects, tiles ($34,741) was actually below that taught in classes employing a diverse of the bottom group. the general skills mix of instructional formats and as- Since the follow-up survey was demanded in sessment methods, along with ample conducted just two years after most of opportunities for experiential learning the students graduated, it is possible today’s workplace. and other co-curricular activities. It is that a wage differential will emerge no accident that the complexity of the as they proceed through their careers. It is essential to acknowledge two workplace is reflected in the complexity But as it stands, this new data should things, however. First, the CLA is by of the college experience. give us pause. Arum and Roksa claim no means an accurate measure of even It takes an extreme leap of faith to that U.S. colleges and universities are these limited skills. The dramatic effect think that a test like the CLA can ac- not equipping their graduates with the of motivation on student performance curately measure the general skills de- skills required in the modern work- alone shows that the results are any- manded in today’s workplace, or even place. But they base their argument on thing but unerring. Second, it is abun- a significant subset of those skills. Of tenuous data from a test whose scores, dantly clear that no standardized test can course, the best measure of whether according to their own follow-up sur- capture the full panoply of important college graduates in the U.S. are ac- vey, do not seem to predict earnings in characteristics that college aims to im- quiring the skills needed in the work- the marketplace. Against the backdrop part or improve. It is naïve to think that place is, and will always be, their actual of overwhelming economic evidence to such a narrow and constrained measure- performance in the workplace. And the the contrary, it is hard to give this argu- ment technique can adequately gauge best indicator of that remains the differ- ment a great deal of credence. the range of knowledge, skills, talents, ential value employers place on college dispositions, character traits, and hab- graduates over high school graduates, What do the data really show? its of mind that contribute to workplace as reflected in the college premium. There are many reasons to question performance and that the college experi- If the CLA provided an important, whether the CLA is a good measure of ence, at its best, molds and transforms. independent measure of workplace the general skills expected of a college Nonetheless, we can acknowledge skills, we would expect to find a signif- graduate. Still, the CLA has many sup- both of these points but still wonder
26 Documenting Uncertain Times: Postgraduate Transitions of the Academically Adrift Cohort, Richard Arum, Esther Cho, Jeannie Kim, and Josipa Roksa, New York: Social Science Research Council (2012).
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 53 whether there are important lessons ing for fewer false positives inevitably questions of reliability are likely to to be learned from Arum and Roksa’s produces more false negatives. pertain to the other half of the dis- data. Does it give us reason for concern So where does the widely quoted tribution as well, meaning that some about how well students are learning 45 percent figure come from? Arum of the students reporting gains may the specific skills the CLA targets? I and Roksa have settled on a particular not actually be learning much.28 think the answer, even to this more lim- margin of error for measuring improve- The problem with this response is ited question, is no. ment (corresponding to a “95 percent that it reveals a fundamental confusion. The first thing to realize is that the confidence level”), and found that 55 They are in effect saying: sure, there most widely reported claim made by percent of the students tested demon- may be false negatives, but it is just as Arum and Roksa—that 45 percent of strate improved levels of skill. That likely that there are false positives. But the students made “no measurable gains is, each of these student’s test scores that’s simply wrong: the whole point in general skills”—involves a common increased more than the chosen mar- of requiring a margin of error is to di- statistical fallacy. Alexander Astin first gin of error, giving us confidence that minish the chance of false positives, pointed this out in an article in The the change in score was not caused by though in doing so we necessarily incur Chronicle of Higher Education.27 Let measurement error, but was instead due more false negatives. The two sides do me describe the problem in non-tech- to a genuine improvement in skill. not somehow balance out. Thinking nical terms. Suppose we are interested But what can we say about the other that they do is a blatant fallacy. in determining whether an individual 45 percent? Can we say with equal con- In fact, Arum and Roksa’s noncha- student’s reasoning skills have im- fidence that their skills did not improve lant dismissal of this concern would proved between the two sittings of the between the two sittings? Absolutely actually have been more appropriate CLA exam. We know that CLA scores not. In fact, the very technique that if they had not employed any margin in themselves are an imprecise mea- gives us confidence of improvement on of error, but had simply assumed im- sure of the underlying skills because the part of the 55 percent also ensures proved skills for all those whose raw of unavoidable sources of measure- that the 45 percent includes more false score increased between the two sit- ment error, such as the student’s men- negatives, students whose skills actu- tings. Of course, the percent whose tal or physical state on the day of the ally improved but who were excluded skills they reported as “improved” exam, imprecision in scoring the test, by our more stringent requirement. All would then have been significantly and so forth. So how do we know when we can say about these students is that higher than 55 percent, and the percent a change in CLA score indicates a real their scores, for whatever reason, did that did not “improve” would be cor- change in ability? not increase beyond the chosen mar- respondingly lower. Since Arum and If it is important to avoid wrongly gin of error. This might be due to no Roksa do not provide their raw data, declaring improvement when none has improvement in the skills in question, we do not know precisely how much actually occurred—what is known as a but might also be due to any number the numbers would change. false positive or Type I error—we need of measurement errors—for example, In any event, the sensational and to require that the student’s later score scoring imprecision or, to echo our pre- oft-repeated claim that 45 percent of exceed the earlier score by some mar- vious discussion, decreased motivation the students in the study showed no gin of error. Using a larger margin of on the part of the student. learning gains is simply a mistake. error gives us more confidence that the What do Arum and Roksa have to So looking at Arum and Roksa’s change in score is not simply a fluke say about the possibility of false nega- results, what can we legitimately say but indicates a genuine improvement in tives, students whose skills improved about the student learning? There are skill. But the larger the margin of error though their scores fell short? Here is three significant facts to keep in mind. we choose, the more false negatives their casual dismissal of the problem: First, it is important to remember that or Type II errors we will incur, that is, A test such as the CLA…may face the two administrations of the test were students whose skills have actually im- challenges of reliability, raising separated by only three semesters of proved even though their scores did not the possibility that some of the stu- college, about a year and a half. Anyone meet our more stringent requirement. dents showing no gains [in score] who has taught either writing or critical That is the unavoidable tradeoff: aim- may actually be learning. However, thinking realizes that these are skills
27 “In ‘Academically Adrift,’ Data Don’t Back Up Sweeping Claim,” Alexander W. Astin, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 14, 2011. 28 Arum and Roksa (2011), p. 219.
54 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 that are slowly improved through prac- tile points higher in the spring of colleges where the dominant form of tice and repetition, not ones that are 2007. Stated differently, freshmen instruction is the large lecture and col- acquired easily or quickly. Second, who enter higher education at the leges whose largest class enrolls ten we should bear in mind that Arum and 50th percentile would reach a level students. We have schools that deliver Roksa’s data come from a low-stakes equivalent to the 57th percentile of instruction primarily through hands-on test setting and so are subject to large an incoming freshman class by the internships and others that are primar- motivational effects. Given predictable end of their sophomore year.30 ily online. We have commuter colleges declines in motivation between the two Arum and Roksa present this as a geared for the working adult and resi- administrations of the test, the study is, negative result. This is a rather puz- dential colleges tailored for the full- as the ETS authors say, “likely an un- zling reaction. Indeed, in another con- time student. We have schools that are derestimation of students’ true college text, we could imagine the paragraph highly selective, while others admit all learning.”29 The motivational effects above appearing in an advertisement comers. We have public institutions run inherent in the study design already promoting an SAT test prep service. by the states, ranging from local com- predispose the results toward false neg- When we add to that the fact that the munity colleges to world-renowned atives (students whose improvement is study design likely underestimates the research universities. We have private masked by decreased motivation) and students’ learning, it is hard to read into non-profit institutions, including small away from false positives (students this data a legitimate cause for concern. liberal arts colleges, polytechnics and whose test performance improved in Once we strip away Arum and conservatories, religiously affiliated spite of no change in underlying skill). Roksa’s rhetoric of crisis and look at the colleges and seminaries, and large, Finally, the fact that we additionally re- actual data they present, it takes on an full-service universities. And we have quire a statistical margin of error before entirely different cast. Using a method- a growing for-profit sector: from long- declaring improvement biases the re- ology that is biased toward understat- established technical institutes, to new, sults even further away from false posi- ing student progress, they nonetheless predominantly online universities. tives, while incurring the unavoidable see evidence of a reassuring degree of This variety is the source of extraor- risk of yet more false negatives. learning across a very broad base of dinary strength. It provides an unparal- Given these facts, what should our students attending a wide variety of leled range of institutions that differ prior expectations be about the study’s colleges and universities. They see this widely in programmatic purpose, peda- results? Speaking for myself, I would progress using a test that targets a set of gogical approach, target student body, not have been surprised if the study abstract reasoning and communication and underlying financial model. It gives failed to detect any learning improve- skills widely known to be among the rise, on the one hand, to intense compe- ment between the two administrations most difficult to teach, and they see the tition for highly qualified students, but of the test. The fact that 55 percent of improvement after only three semesters on the other, also provides options for the students involved in the study none- of the students’ college experience. students who stumble and need a sec- theless showed improvement beyond This is not evidence of a system ond chance. It is a resilient and flexible the chosen margin of error is actually that is academically adrift, but evidence system, unlike any other in the world. remarkable. Far from being an indict- entirely consistent with what the eco- I titled this essay, “Are our colleges ment of our students and our colleges, nomic data tell us: graduates produced and universities failing us?” At this it is a surprising and encouraging result. by American colleges and universities point, a reader might expect my answer The same can be said for the change display a significant skill differential to be no, not really. But this answer in average score. Arum and Roksa re- that employers reward with the most would be as simplistic as those I’ve port that the average score on the exam substantial wage premium offered in criticized. Indeed, the very complexity improved by “only” .18 standard devia- the economically developed world. and heterogeneity of the U.S. system tions. They go on to explain: means that it defies broad generaliza- This translates into a seven per- Conclusion tion along almost any dimension. centile point gain, meaning that an The United States has the most Consider, for example, the issue of average-scoring student in the fall complex and variegated system of college cost. Suppose we ask what the of 2005 would score seven percen- higher education in the world. We have primary driver of tuition increases has
29 Liu, Bridgeman, and Adler (2012), p. 360. 30 Arum and Roksa (2011), p. 35.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 55 been during the past decade. In fact, al- ness of U.S. colleges and universities. tion is not without serious problems. though tuition has increased faster than The only reliable measure of how But again, we need to treat the real inflation in every sector, there is no sin- prepared college graduates are for the problems, not imagined ones. At the gle reason why. For example, at one end workforce is how they actually perform top of the list is cost and accessibility: of the spectrum, community colleges, on the job. And the best, broad-based we need to find some way to bend the the expenditures on education and re- measure of that is the college premium: cost curve in higher education without lated activities in fact declined almost how much employers are willing to making large sacrifices in education a thousand dollars per student between pay for the incremental skills the col- quality. This is not an easy problem 2000 and 2010. These colleges have not lege graduate brings to the job. There is to solve, because the cost crisis is not only contained expenses but reduced no evidence that the skill gap between driven by lavish student amenities, them. Yet the cost to students still in- high school and college graduates in high administrative salaries, or other creased faster than inflation, because the U.S. has narrowed. On the contrary, popular diagnoses, but by far more fun- state appropriations to the colleges de- the data suggest precisely the reverse. damental economic forces. clined even more than expenses.31 The The recent recession and virtually Of equal concern are college reduced student subsidy provided by the jobless recovery have taken a toll on completion rates—the proportion of states more than counteracted increased wages in the U.S. This, along with the students who begin college and go on efficiency on the part of the colleges. pervasive sense of crisis in higher edu- to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. In contrast, at private colleges and cation, has led to many popular articles Nationwide, less than 60 percent of universities the situation was effectively focused on college graduates who find students who enter a four-year college reversed. These schools spent substan- themselves unemployed or underem- successfully complete a degree after tially more on education and related ex- ployed. These anecdote-driven stories six years. The other 40 percent spend penses, yet their net tuition costs—that often conclude by questioning whether considerable time and money, both is, the average tuition a student pays college remains a good investment. their own and the taxpayers, pursuing after financial aid—remained almost They tend to ignore the (easily avail- a college education, but then end up exactly the same after adjusting for in- able) comparative data concerning with little to show for it. This is the real flation.32 Indeed at many private institu- wages and employment rates for young wasteful spending in higher education, tions, the net cost of attendance actually people without a four-year college de- and unless we address it, there is little declined, thanks to much more gener- gree. The truth is that while wages for hope we can substantially increase the ous financial aid programs. Here, while recent college graduates have indeed proportion of college-educated em- the published tuition increased, the sub- declined about 5 percent, wages for ployees in the workforce. sidies provided by college endowments high school and associate degree hold- Addressing these real problems more than made up for that increase. ers have declined 10 and 12 percent, should be the focus of our national It is even harder to broadly general- respectively. Similarly, the proportion education policy, regional accreditation ize about the educational effectiveness of recent college graduates who suc- boards, and university administrations. of such an extraordinary range of in- cessfully transitioned into employment Concerns about whether those who stitutions. There are doubtless institu- barely changed during the recession, successfully graduate are adequately tions in every sector—public, private, while the rates for high school and as- prepared for today’s job market, or and for-profit—that fail to deliver ac- sociate degree holders dropped by 8 and whether they have achieved appropri- ceptable educational outcomes, whose 10 percent.33 Again, the actual data do ate “learning outcomes,” are largely a graduates are not well prepared for the not show that the value of the bachelor’s distraction from the actual problems jobs available in today’s marketplace. degree has recently declined, but rather of higher education in America. There But on the extent of the problem, the that the value is more than holding its is overwhelming evidence—evidence economic data speaks volumes: There own, despite difficult economic times. from the job market itself—that our is clearly no systemic or widespread But none of this is cause for com- colleges and universities continue to do problem with the educational effective- placency. Our system of higher educa- well on that particular score. ■
31 Spending: Where Does the Money Go? A Delta Data Update 2000-2010, Delta Cost Project, American Institutes for Research, 2012, p. 10. 32 Trends in College Pricing 2012, The College Board, 2012, Figure 10. 33 How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?: The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates, Economic Mobility Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2013.
56 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 by Henry Rosovsky, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Emeritus, Harvard University
RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES: American Exceptionalism? R Editor’s Note: These remarks were prepared for the Carnegie Corporation/TIME Summit on Higher Education, September 20, 2013.
I. A Paradox 1, 2012, issue of The Economist pro- and the system that invests in and Domestically, American higher ed- vides a recent example. The headline trains young people to be leading sci- ucation is the subject of almost unprec- announced: “Not what it used to be: entists and scholars, that distinguishes edented criticism. “Too expensive and American universities represent declin- them and makes them the envy of the inefficient and not a good investment” ing value for money to their students.” is a common conclusion. Students are In the text there is little recognition said to be unprepared for the job mar- of the tremendous diversity of higher ket. Higher education is accused of education in the United States.) The In the United States, being too permissive in tolerating low label “American universities” has little faculty productivity and in resisting the meaning when our country is home to it makes no sense technological revolution. In general, more than 4,000 tertiary institutions, the current “business model” is judged ranging from those that might actually to speak about unsustainable: some think that we are be the envy of the world to those barely riding on the road to self-destruction. distinguishable from high schools— “higher education” The United States confronts great social with a tremendous variety in between. and economic problems, yet—in Arthur At the top of our higher education or “universities” Levine’s gloomy words—“public and pyramid we find the public and private opinion leaders alike view [universities] research universities with their special in general—and as more of a problem than a solution.”1 role of creating and maintaining knowl- But in international discussions edge, training graduate students in arts yet it happens and evaluations of higher education, and sciences and professional schools, American universities are frequently and offering a liberal education to un- all the time. called “the envy of the world.” Not by dergraduates. According to Jonathan any means all our universities. Indeed Cole, there are about 125 diverse uni- world.”2 These 125 universities play a not very many, but some—and that is versities that fit this description and less singular role in undergraduate edu- my point. they “…are able to produce a very cation. As Cole again points out, some In the United States, it makes no high proportion of the most important American liberal arts colleges are able sense to speak about “higher educa- fundamental knowledge and practical to offer undergraduate education of tion” or “universities” in general—yet research discoveries in the world. It is equal quality. I agree, but the nature of it happens all the time. (The December the quality of the research produced, the educational experience is different:
1 “Today’s Unpresidential Presidents,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 26, 2012. 2 The Great American University, 2009, p. 5
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 57 for undergraduates, the research uni- we are using accepted but necessarily faculty sharing authority in specified versity might be compared to life in a questionable measures with the poten- areas with appointed administrators and big city with a great diversity of inhab- tial to lessen our status as world leaders. trustees, the latter holding final author- itants—undergraduates, graduate stu- All systems of international university ity. This is a distinctly American form dents, professional school students, and rankings agree that U.S. universities of shared governance, which relies on a faculty reflective of that diversity—and dominate the top twenty or thirty places. strong executive. Presidents, provosts, the liberal arts college comparable to a (Twenty-two out of thirty in the Times and deans possess and exercise consid- more homogeneous and community- Higher Education survey and twenty- erable authority over budgets, institu- oriented small town populace. Each has three out of thirty in the Shanghai Jiao tional priorities, and many other matters its own advantages for undergraduates. Tong ranking; both in 2013.) of consequence. This may be contrasted It is unlikely that American domi- with the so-called “continental model” nance is accidental, but a convincing that features what, in its purist form, can explanation would have to be extremely only be described as “participatory de- A major component complicated. History, wars, culture and mocracy”—faculty elections of rectors customs, and resources are all involved. and deans, and policy decisions some- of education is But all the institutions at the top of the times placed in the hands of assemblies American educational pyramid—and based on the principle of parity: fac- real as opposed to some others as well—share six char- ulty, students, and employees sharing acteristics closely associated with high authority. In my opinion, this form of virtual encounters quality. (My initial preference was to governance has been a great obstacle to call these “necessary conditions,” but progress, and while it is very difficult between students that seemed a bit too rigorous.) Their to generalize, it seems that even conti- absence would preclude—or make it nental practice is moving toward greater and teachers much more difficult—for research uni- executive authority. versities to achieve the highest quality, More than a decade ago, I had the to encourage not just in this country but anywhere opportunity to study universities in de- else. Indeed, their partial or total ab- veloping countries all over the world participation and sence abroad helps to explain why while preparing a report for the World critical thinking. there are relatively few foreign—es- Bank and UNESCO.4 Problems and pecially non-Western—institutions issues varied enormously depend- represented at the top of the accepted ing on economic conditions, politi- “Top of the pyramid”—my sole surveys.3 None of the six character- cal system, history, etc. But those who focus here—does not mean that institu- istics is wholly unambiguous; all are were in charge of universities almost tions below the top are less worthy, less blurry. But is not difficult to detect their always agreed on one point: poor sys- deserving of private or public support, presence or absence. tems of university governance were the or less essential in the national scheme greatest obstacles to institutional im- of higher education. Nor does it imply II. Six Characteristics of Quality provement—more so than inadequate that the current storm of criticism is n Shared governance. First, these financing or anything else. Of course, irrelevant for research universities. I institutions all practice shared gover- poor governance meant many different completely understand the need for con- nance: the trustees and president condi- things but certainly included interfer- trolling costs and expanding capacity. tionally delegate educational policy to ence by ministries of education, unclear But it does mean that criticisms have the faculty. That would primarily include lines of authority and perhaps, most im- to be as differentiated as the range of curriculum and the initial selection of portant, barriers to faculty input or ini- institutions: unless that happens, inap- those who teach, are admitted to study, tiative. It would be a mistake to believe propriate remedies may damage a sec- and do research. The administrative that poor governance applies only to tor of American higher education where style is collegial rather than top-down, the developing world. Similar obstacles
3 For a very recent confirmation of this point, one need only look at Michele Lamont and Anna Sun’s op-ed, “How China’s Elite Universities Will Have to Change,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 14, 2012. 4 Higher Education in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise, 2000.
58 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 have slowed quality growth in European institutions that employ them”—and, in ers; I swoon over teachers. Even and American higher education. addition, all rights granted to inhabit- what I learned on my own I owed What makes shared governance so ants of this country, especially those to them, because they guided me in important? There are many possible associated with the First Amendment.5 my sense of what is significant. The answers, but these are among the most n Merit selection. Third, admis- only form of knowledge that can be frequently mentioned: universities are sion of students and selection and ad- adequately acquired without the extremely complex organizations in vancement of faculty is based on merit help of a teacher and without the which centralized decision-making measured by recognized and accepted humility of a student is information, does not achieve the best results; in institutional standards. Some form of which is the lowest form of knowl- universities the proportion of self-moti- prior achievement would define merit: edge. (And in these nightmarishly vated people is large and to capture the assuredly not an issue devoid of nu- data-glutted days, the winnowing full measure of their “creative juices” merous ambiguities. One cannot ignore of information may also require requires a sense of ownership. Susan legacies, affirmative action, athletic the masterly hand of someone who Hockfield, former president of MIT, scholarships, and similar deviations knows more and better.) puts it very well: “Faculty travel the from the simplest notions of merit for One might quarrel with some spe- frontiers of their disciplines and, from students, such as scores on a standard- cific phrases, but it is not easy to imag- that vantage point, can best determine ized national test. Similarly, gender, ine these sentiments being addressed future directions of their fields and de- race, and old-boy networks can create to a screen. Few would deny the great sign curricula that bring students to the other deviations from a straightforward value of digitization, virtual course ma- frontier. No academic leader can chart standard for selecting and promoting terials, or occasionally flipped class- the course of the university’s discipline faculty. Nevertheless, objective mea- rooms but they remain complementary independent of the faculty.” sures of merit remain at the very least rather than primary. These reasons apply in general to the first approximation. n Preservation of culture. Fifth, all organizations in which profession-based n Significant human contact. these universities consider preservation authority is important, a good example Fourth, a major component of education and transmission of culture to be one being law firms and large consulting is now and is intended to remain sig- of their missions. This would include firms. Shared governance may frustrate nificant human contact: real as opposed representation of the humanities in cur- administrators intent on implement to virtual encounters between students riculum (mandatory for undergradu- ing rapid change, but a slower pace and teachers to encourage participation ate liberal arts), as well as, for some, may also lead to wiser choices and cer- and critical thinking. In his 2012 Tanner more specialized activities including tainly has not—in light of university his- Lectures, William Bowen calls this research and language studies, and the tories—prevented fundamental changes. “minds rubbing against minds.” The maintenance of libraries and museums. (It should be added that the current use proportions may change over time but Preservation of culture applies as much of adjuncts, offering over 50 percent the basic principle has to be retained: to MIT, Caltech, and Purdue as it does of instruction in many universities, it has to be part of liberal education for to the more traditional Yale and the has surely undermined the integrity of undergraduates who need guidance and University of Wisconsin. Indeed, many shared governance. A corps of instruc- contact in making choices, and it is a “polytechnics”—certainly including tors in which half are employed on a self-evident part of the mentor-mentee the ones mentioned here—have been yearly basis and without rights or sense relation for those aspiring to reach a the source of major innovative schol- of ownership will not be doing much PhD Leon Wieseltier, in language that arship in the humanities and social creative thinking about the future.) is both valid and vivid, captured the sciences. The history of science and n Academic freedom. Second, spirit of this characteristic extremely economics are excellent examples. It despite periodic challenges, American well in a recent New Republic essay:6 is a simple fact that our most promi- research universities enjoy academic When I look back at my educa- nent universities specializing in science freedom—“the right of scholars to pur- tion, I am struck not by how much have programs and/or departments that sue their research, to teach, and to pub- I learned but by how much I was transcend traditional definitions of sci- lish without control or restraint from the taught. I am the progeny of teach- ence. But why? Because they believe
5 The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001. 6 December 31, 2012
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 59 that this both improves the education Both perspectives are wrong. The Internal and external critics have of their students and the research of the characteristics of quality are almost suggested various other cost-cutting faculty. Interdisciplinary approaches in never considered as a system even measures. For example, raising teach- all fields have been gaining favor for though the absence of any one of them ing loads or a rising student-faculty ra- many years and that may be the most will affect the integrity and quality of tio—I do not necessarily suggest either powerful driver of all. a research university. Faculty wishing one—would lower cost. A three-year n Nonprofit status. Sixth—and fi- responsibly to exercise rights of shared bachelor’s degree would have the same nally—all research universities operate governance should have the whole result. More machines, fewer humans, on a not-for-profit basis. If maximizing group clearly in mind. and an increase in online learning profit or increasing shareholder value Turning to the non-academic per- (MOOCS) may also decrease expenses. were the goal, all the previous condi- spective, none of these characteristics, Again, these may be good ideas or tions become unwelcome obstacles and singly or as a group, make—to use the not— but respecting the six character- inefficiencies that could not be toler- term beloved by our critics—disruptive istics does not prevent their implemen- ated by a competent management. But change impossible. This is an important tation (so long as shared governance is this condition is not as cut and dried as point because, I think, it runs counter to clearly understood not to be participa- it may seem. Decisions in not-for-profit widely held beliefs. tory democracy). universities can be influenced and pos- For example, tenure is perceived to Shared governance does, from time sibly distorted by considerations of be an obstacle to change. It may indeed to time, increase the burden of admin- revenue. For example, activities that be desirable instead to adopt a system istrators. Bowen, in his Tanner Lecture, generate research or operating funds in of long-term contracts—particularly asks if shared governance is suitable return for certain privileges obtained by because federal law prohibits manda- for a digital world in which decisions a funder may require exclusive access tory retirements. Faculties are aging about educational policy can frequently to specific scientific results for a limited and so are their ideas, in turn raising go beyond individual professors or de- period of time. In this sense, no research costs and keeping out the young. But partments and need to include a great university today is purely not-for-profit. it is not the enumerated characteristics mix of constituencies. As he suggests, None, however, is mainly directed by that stand in the way of change. To take individual or groups of faculty should the business aims of outside supporters. the most relevant, in the American tradi- not have veto power over change. Have The six characteristics are neither tion, employment contracts have never they ever in a well-administered institu- canonical nor subject to rigorous math- been within the purview of shared gov- tion? Bowen is right: the definition or ematical proof. They are based on my ernance. Faculties don’t determine their concept of shared governance may have (I believe uncontroversial) reading of own pay or conditions of employment; to change with the times, while the prin- our historical experience. these are in the hands of the administra- ciple of faculty voice and participation tion—even when union negotiations are is vigilantly maintained. The important III. Understanding and involved. A main barrier to change has to words are sharing combined with good Misunderstanding the Quality be the fact that—noted by Bowen in his leadership. The notion that research Requirements second Tanner Lecture—that competi- universities are “unchanging” has al- Many academics will consider a tion between non-profit peer institutions ways struck me as bizarre. Our products listing of these characteristics indi- currently drives up cost. No ambitious are education and research, and the vital vidually familiar, obvious, and of little and quality-centered research univer- element is not the format or setting (the interest. Non-academics, on the other sity can afford, on its own, to abandon bottle) but the content (the wine.) And hand, may have a quite different reac- tenure and move (say) to long-term con- that is forever changing.7 tion. The list could easily be interpreted tracts. Only an understanding with peers Conditions that are at the core of as a plea for the status quo, typical of would make it possible and that is ille- what it means to be a university are, the academic establishment that stub- gal. Bowen wonders if some collusion for many people, counterintuitive, es- bornly resists all change. would now be in the public interest. pecially for those with a background
7 A brief digression. In The Great American University, previously mentioned, Jonathan Cole suggests a list of thirteen items under the title “What Makes Great Research Universities,” p. 109. There is very little overlap with our list—the main common point being academic freedom—because what I call “characteristics of quality” all pertain to internal governance and, subject to constraints, are controlled by the university and ultimately by the trustees. And that becomes very consequential when trustees and their responsibilities are considered.
60 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 primarily in business. This was viv- do I want to be today—and tomor- tions: do those who constitute the idly illustrated by the recent events at row? To discover not only the ways court of last resort understand the un- the University of Virginia where a few in which human civilization plans usual entity with which they have been board members, mainly from the pri- to get somewhere, but to ask the entrusted? When trustee initiative is vate sector, believing that the new pres- question, Where does it—and where necessary and appropriate and when ident was making changes too slowly, should it—hope to go?8 it is not? Do we do enough to prepare engineered her abrupt dismissal after Those are not questions likely to trustees for their responsibilities? Are three years on the job. It seems to me arise in many corporate boardrooms those who make the appointments that this kind of coup would not be con- but they should be raised regularly more concerned about the candidate’s sidered good practice even for a private among university trustees. ability to read balance sheets than their corporation, but for an institution in which shared governance was the as- IV. Addressing the Present sumed norm it proved to be disastrous. Moment The UVA board may have acted within We come now to some of the real dif- Universities are its legal authority, but the total absence ficulties of the moment. To fulfill their of consultation created a faculty-stu- role in society—creating knowledge and a set of institutions dent revolt that forced a reversal of the educating graduate and undergraduate original action. All emerged worse off. students— the university community unlike any others Shared governance is perhaps the makes assumptions that may not always classic source of “misunderstandings,” be, and almost certainly are not now, ob- in our society. Our but it is not by any means the only one. vious either to the trustees who are their Academic freedom is a perpetual sore governors or to the wider public. For task is to illuminate point, especially when it comes to the example, the characteristics associated expression of political opinion by fac- with quality can be seen as pleas for spe- the past and ulty. To take one more example, preser- cial privileges. In business or in govern- vation of culture may be seen by those ment neither the freedom of expression shape the future. exercising sound business judgment as nor a voice in governance is the prac- —Drew Faust an entirely discretionary luxury when it tice. Decisions are largely profit-based President, Harvard University is, in reality, an integral part of research or necessarily political. universities. Another reality to consider is that appreciation of university values? Or Harvard President Drew Faust American universities only rarely have do we look primarily at the capacity of framed the issues eloquently in a recent written constitutions or long-lasting tra- potential trustees to make large dona- address at Boston College: ditions of common law. The guarantors tions? Or are those who have the power Universities are a set of institutions of their privileges and practices are trust- of appointment primarily interested in unlike any others in our society. ees, most of whose life experiences have a candidate’s political affiliation? The Certainly our budgets must balance, been in private business, admittedly same point can be made about faculty. our operations must be efficient, but a category possibly so broad as to be We take great care to examine research we are not about the bottom line, not largely meaningless. (Currently, around credentials and—these days, and that just about the next quarter, not even 50% of trustees come from “business,” is a major and welcome change—we about who our graduates are the 22% from professional service, and 13% look more closely at teaching capaci- day they leave our walls. Our task is from education.) Furthermore, in the ties. But do we do anything to prepare to illuminate the past and shape the case of state universities appointment to faculty to participate productively in future, to define human aspirations positions of governance can be political, shared governance? Both of these tasks for the long term. How can we look frequently in the hands of governors, will grow in urgency as the American past the immediate and the useful… and sometimes subject to state elections. research university—“the envy of the to address the larger conundrum At a time of contentiousness and world”?—navigates very stormy seas of: How shall we best live? What criticism current practices raise ques- predicted by nearly all observers. ■
8 “Scholarship and the Role of the University: Remarks at the Boston College Sesquicentennial,” October 12, 2012.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 61 by Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges
A 21st Century Education: WHAT DO STUDENTS Need to Know? R Editor’s Note: These remarks were prepared for the Carnegie Corporation/TIME Summit on Higher Education, September 20, 2013.
Our panel’s topic today is what an Other students will begin at one four- most of the student’s general education educated person of the 21st century year college then transfer to another. requirements will have been satisfied at ought to know and what that means for The large amount of mobility among the community college. the ways in which U.S. research uni- students creates difficulties in record- My second observation is that any versities—which educate a very large keeping so the patterns of success discussion of what a well-educated per- percentage of all American undergrad- and failure for students who transfer son in the 21st century ought to know uates—ought to do to strengthen their among institutions are often difficult runs the risk of slipping into a replay of teaching effectiveness. to discern. the “culture wars,” with every person I want to make six observations. The biggest complication for in the room having his or her favorite First, it’s difficult to talk about the improvement of teaching and lead- new subject to add to the ideal curricu- role of research universities without ac- ing posed by the porousness of the lum. (My own contribution to the end- knowledging that there is an American American system is the challenge of less discussion, by the way, would be “system” of higher education that in- preserving coherence in general educa- that there ought to be a required course cludes approximately 100 research tion for the 21st century when students on bureaucracy since bureaucratic in- universities, another 1,800 traditional move among institutions to the extent stitutions are so much a fact of modern four-year public and private colleges they do. Take California as an example. life and our students need to learn more and universities that treat teaching as The stringent public university budgets sophisticated ways of coping with the a more important part of their missions in recent years have forced many ex- large institutions that shape almost ev- than research, and more than 1,000 ceptionally bright students to complete erything they do.) two-year colleges that place their great- their first two years of college at a com- Getting mired in a discussion of est emphasis on increasing access to munity college. If they excel there, they which courses are most important higher education. The community col- may be admitted to leading campuses to require is a thankless task. We can leges are now the fastest growing sec- of the University of California, such as stipulate that any good college edu- tor of higher education and account Berkeley or UCLA. There is no doubt cation should include both rigorous for ever-larger percentages of juniors that a transfer student to Berkeley depth of study in one field, whether it and seniors at research universities. will enjoy a first-rate education in his is a discipline of the arts and sciences Many students, for example, will start major field, but the extraordinarily rich or a professional major, and a demand- at a community college, then transfer Berkeley experience of general educa- ing general education program that to a four-year college or university. tion is likely to be minimal because explores many modes of thought, per-
62 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 spectives, bodies of knowledge, texts, University, can help to individualize arranging internships or other experien- and methodologies. instruction. But less imaginative, pas- tial forms of education are all correlated At the heart of any discussion of sive online presentations are no better with better grades and improved prog- the content of undergraduate educa- than giant lectures at encouraging ac- ress toward degree completion. tion in a research university is the tive learning nor do these technologies The growing pedagogical move- problem of achieving an appropriate have much positive impact on the co- ment of encouraging undergraduates balance between the faculty’s teach- curricular dimensions of education. to undertake research projects in co- ing and research responsibilities. In practice, it is graduate teaching operation with faculty members has Sometimes, courses are not offered assistants at research universities who been especially helpful. Surprisingly, in timely sequences when students often serve to bridge the gap between small colleges have exploited the un- need them because faculty members undergraduates and more remote senior dergraduate research movement most are on research-related travel. A stu- faculty members. Some teaching assis- dent’s sequence of study, especially in tants are talented teachers, mentors, and the sciences, if interrupted by a fac- advisors, while others are so focused ulty member’s sabbatical, may force a on their own doctoral studies that they In practice, it is lengthening of the college experience neglect even the formal responsibilities beyond four years. Fortunately, today’s they have as teachers or advisors. Full- graduate teaching large-scale digital scholarly resources time, tenure-track faculty members are not only make possible advanced re- not always better teachers than gradu- assistants at research search without the necessity of long ate students, nor is the opposite true. universities who absences from campus but can simulta- The lesson for research universities neously serve the purposes of advanced is to be more deliberate in encourag- often serve to bridge research and of teaching at multiple ing everyone who teaches or advises levels of specialization. Just as a fac- undergraduates to be more perceptive the gap between ulty member at a college in a remote about the totality of the student’s expe- undergraduates and location can now have effective online rience and not just what goes on inside access to major research collections, the classroom for which he or she is more remote senior so can a faculty member anywhere use responsible. The sprinkling of honors the same online resource to select what colleges among research universities faculty members. will be suitable for a course at a par- offers a pedagogical improvement for ticular level. a small number of students, but also frequently, even though it is a prac- My third observation is that a good raises a question of equity for state of- tice that could easily be adopted by 21st century education ought to take ficials about the use of public funds. all colleges and universities. Because into account both what happens in the Fourth, there is very good evi- undergraduate research has proven to formal curriculum and what happens dence—especially from Richard Light’s be particularly effective in preparing in the rest of the student’s experience. studies and from George Kuh’s National career scientists, it ought to be a peda- Small colleges are particularly good Survey of Student Engagement—that gogy in wider use at research universi- at linking the curriculum with the co- “active” learning translates into more ties, but isn’t. One result is that smaller curricular experience, purposeful about learning and improved persistence to- colleges now prepare a proportionally the organized extracurricular life of ward timely degree completion. A large larger share of America’s career scien- students, and, to some degree, even lecture course is not a bad way to teach, tists than most large universities do. try to shape the informal interactions but it should be used sparingly, in com- My fifth observation is that to im- among students and between students bination with the more effective discus- prove undergraduate education in re- and faculty members. It is much more sion sections, seminars, and tutorials. search universities, we will need to difficult for large universities to influ- Kuh and Light also have found, in their focus more deliberately on the role of ence these interactions. Technology- separate studies, that active pedagogies, graduate students. Thanks to a 30-year based courses, if they follow Candace such as requiring many written papers, PhD glut in many fields, new PhDs Thille’s exemplary, highly interactive expecting students to take advantage of from leading universities increasingly statistics course at Carnegie Mellon a faculty member’s office hours, and will make up the faculties of non-elite
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 63 colleges and universities—that is, they a dissertation. I would argue also that because there is a centralized curricu- will if an enterprising president or dean research universities ought to organize lum. We should not want that future for takes advantage of the market. Almost continuing interactions at the depart- America’s research universities. all new PhDs aspire to careers in which ment level with former students, now And sixth, despite the precarious- teaching will be a major component. faculty members elsewhere, to sustain ness of most university presidencies in Research universities need to be more an ongoing community of scholars in this era of overzealous trustees, a lot tenacious in helping graduate students their professional development. still can be achieved by bold executive learn to be effective teachers. This is not There is one new dimension in pre- action. If a research university wants to rocket science. Encouragement to grad- paring graduate students to be the next be viewed as a national resource, not uate students to participate in activities generation of teachers with which no merely a statewide agency, it needs to organized by a center for teaching and university has yet to come to grips— be clearer about the specific national namely, MOOCs. The major case made interests it serves. Here’s a cautionary for MOOCs at research universities— tale. Five universities pooled resources that they relieve the lecturer in a room about a decade ago to teach Southeast The major case of 500 students from lecturing so that Asian languages because an adequate he or she can work closely with stu- number of interested students could not made for MOOCs dents less formally—does not reflect be enrolled on any one campus. That’s the reality of most colleges and univer- the good news. But during a recent at research sities. If a course can be transferred to budget crunch, the universities took the universities—that a less labor-intensive technology-based position that if the federal government format, most universities will find relies on these universities for the sup- they relieve the it difficult to resist the temptation to ply of experts in these languages and eliminate the expense of that member cultures, the federal government must lecturer in a room of the faculty. Carried to extremes, a pay for the language program, and if of 500 students large number of faculty positions could the government didn’t pay, the univer- be eliminated. That’s not only a bad sities would close the program. Doesn’t from lecturing so that thing in its own right, but would have a university that has pegged its national a chilling effect on the brightest gradu- distinction in part on its expertise in he or she can work ate and undergraduate students, some this field have an obligation to treat the of whom choose now to enter PhD pro- field as a high priority for the use of closely with students grams in all fields of knowledge and its own money? An effective president less formally— aspire to become members of the next should be expected to lead the effort to generation of scholars. If the number of clarify the institution’s mission and its does not reflect traditional, full-time teaching positions relation to national priorities. at colleges and universities continues These modest suggestions are in- the reality of to contract—and MOOCs could cause cremental and feasible. They respect most colleges them to contract more rapidly—the both existing strengths of the American incentive will be reduced significantly research universities, which are sub- and universities. for bright undergraduates to start on stantial, and acknowledge the realities career ladders that will hardly exist of fostering change in large, decentral- learning, to read in the literature of cog- in the future. We likely will be drawn ized institutions. But tenacity will be nitive science and about learning styles, into a situation that looks very much necessary in any process of evolution- or to seek help in preparing a syllabus like today’s world of K-12 education. ary change toward improved teaching or an exam gives signals that teaching K-12 teachers currently do not, unfor- in research universities. Without tenac- is important. It sends a message that the tunately, come from the top ranks of ity, the calls for disruptive change will graduate student who spends time help- academic performance among under- grow much louder. ■ ing undergraduates is not doing some- graduates. They enter a profession in thing inappropriate, detracting from the which they have little intellectual con- only important task, which is writing trol over what goes on in the classroom
64 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 by Phyllis Wise, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Universities POWER U.S. Innovation and Prosperity We need to invest in these institutions to fuel future progress. R Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in TIME, October 7, 2013. If you use a GPS device, a mouse, long commitment to investment in sci- tions accounted for more than half of or a microwave oven, take antibiotics, entific research and development has the nation’s basic research. And of the have an eye implant, or are reading this begun to erode under the pressure to $32.6 billion in academic research and on a tablet, you can thank America’s re- provide short-term budgetary relief. development funding from the govern- search universities. The concept of the research uni- ment that year, about 60 percent was These institutions, which have versity in America emerged in the invested in public research universities. become a national network for inno- 19th century, but it was the Morrill Act I’ll use my university as an exam- vation, are the envy of the world and of 1862 that established the nation’s ple of the economic impact of public are responsible for many of the prod- land-grant colleges and the first— research institutions: A 2009 study of ucts, services, and industries that have uniquely American—public research changed the way we live and yet we universities. Not only did this land- often take for granted. mark legislation serve to democratize The impact of our universities also educational opportunities and create Funding for our is evident in how we address national new expectations of public access, it priorities from security and defense, to also charged these public universi- public universities, public health and economic prosperity ties with the responsibility of actively which educate at home and competitiveness abroad. putting knowledge into practice. One Research universities—with their hundred and fifty years later, these 70 percent of all multifaceted mission of research, universities are home to the basic sci- teaching, and service—are the key to entific research that is a foundation for undergraduates, educational access for millions and both breakthroughs in technology and has declined to the constitute the first link in a chain of for economic development. Together basic knowledge leading to applica- with private universities, public re- point where the cost tions that have revolutionized modern search universities generate the vast life. They also underlie the economic majority of the nation’s study of the of a college education and social growth that has seen our na- pure basic science that is vital to our tion climb from a colony in rebellion to knowledge base. rests increasingly a global leader. The main source for investment on the backs The future of this engine for in- in this endeavor is the federal gov- novation is uncertain—as the nation’s ernment. In 2009, academic institu- of our students.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 65 the University of Illinois and its medi- ucts resulting from basic research by technological, and economic growth cal enterprise showed a $13.1 billion universities and colleges funded by the and of much of our commercial R&D. impact on our state economy, including National Science Foundation: bar-code When industries have been unwill- the creation of more than 150,000 jobs. scanners, computer-assisted design, ing to invest in the early stages of re- Innovative research at the University improved biofuels, fish farming, tis- search where risks are high and returns of Illinois alone has led to 34 start-up sue transplants, forensic DNA analy- are unknown, universities step in. And companies and nearly 300 new patents sis, revolutionary weather-sensing when their gambles are rewarded, the over the last five years. This is a return networks, and, from the University of outcomes are added to the public do- from one university. Illinois, nuclear magnetic resonance main where industries and corporations The numbers are compelling, but imaging and the first graphical Internet and private individuals build on them. they don’t tell the full story of how browser. Lasers, MRI technology, restriction en- university-based research touches The work of research universities is zymes, and many computer technolo- lives. Consider just a few of the prod- the bedrock of our nation’s scientific, gies are all discoveries that have been
A selection of innovations, supported through university research, that have improved our lives.
Product, University, Use Today Development Impact Fun Fact Inventor MRI machine MRI scanners are widely used Damadian published a 1971 paper claiming doctors MRIs are useful in identifying In 1937, Columbia SUNY (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to detect injuries, diseases, could diagnose cancer by using nuclear magnetic reso- tumors and other maladies. University professor Isidor 1972 and other health issues. nance (NMR). Because tumors contain more water than They also show soft tissues, I. Rabi discovered NMR, Raymond Damadian healthy tissue, they can be identified in NMR images. such as the brain and other which led to the invention organs, much better than of the MRI machine and X-rays. helped earn him a Nobel Prize.
Polio vaccine The polio vaccine is one of the In 1952, Salk developed the first effective polio vaccine, The polio vaccine has virtually Salk also worked on vac- University of Pittsburgh most common immunizations which was then tested in the largest medical experiment eradicated the once-common cinations for influenza (Pittsburgh, Penn.) given to children worldwide. in history, which involved 1.8 million U.S. children. childhood disease. In 2010 and AIDS. 1955 Following a massive child immunization campaign there were fewer than 1,300 Jonas Salk launched in 1955, by 1961, there were only about 160 polio cases worldwide. polio cases in the U.S.
General use computer Computers are used in nearly The development of the first computer, called ENIAC, The creation of ENIAC led to Designing and building University of every facet of our lives and was originally designed to calculate artillery firing continued development in ENIAC cost $500,000 in Pennsylvania have revolutionized com- tables for the U.S. Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory. computer science and engi- 1946, which would be about (Philadelphia, Penn.) munication, technology, and The machine was called the “Giant Brain” in the press neering. More than 95 million $5.9 million today. 1946 medicine. and could be reprogrammed to solve a host of comput- computers were sold in the John Mauchly and J. ing problems. U.S. in 2011, leading to $85.5 Presper Eckert billion in revenue.
Internet The Internet connects comput- Building off of a fellow MIT colleague’s research on Over 30 percent of the world’s The first four locations in MIT ers and users worldwide and packet switching theory, Roberts established the population uses the Internet. the ARPANET network were (Cambridge, Mass.) has changed the way we com- first computer connection between computers in UCLA, Stanford University, 1965 municate and how information Massachusetts and California with a dial-up telephone Nearly 72 percent of U.S. UC Santa Barbara, and the Lawrence G. Roberts is spread. line. The Department of Defense then funded the households have Internet University of Utah. development of ARPANET, a network of computers at access. research universities and laboratories across the nation, which was an early iteration of the modern Internet.
Richter scale The Richter scale was the pre- Inspired by the apparent magnitude system, which mea- While the original Richter While most people today California Institute of cursor to current systems used sures the brightness of stars, Richter designed the scale scale has been updated still refer to earthquake Technology (Pasadena, to measure the magnitude of and originally intended it to only be used in a particular several times since its incep- magnitude measurements Calif.) earthquakes. study in California. Gutenberg later modified the scale tion, it has changed the way as being on the Richter 1935 to measure earthquakes at great distances, thus creat- earthquakes are measured scale, earthquakes are now Charles Francis Richter, ing the moment magnitude scale used today. worldwide. technically measured on the Beno Gutenberg moment magnitude scale.
GPS (global position- GPS is most commonly used Following the launch of Sputnik, physicists Guier and GPS is common in most cars As of May 2013, 64 GPS ing system) in cars as a navigation tool, Weiffenbach discovered they could identify and track and cell phones. The military satellites have been Johns Hopkins University but it is also used by hikers, the satellite’s exact location. They then developed a way uses GPS for search and res- launched. The oldest GPS (Baltimore, Md.) sailors, and the military. to pinpoint a specific location on Earth via a satellite. cue, reconnaissance, tracking, satellite still in operation 1959 This project, later called Transit, was used by the U.S. and missile guidance. was launched in November William Guier, George Navy to track submarines and was the precursor to 1990. Weiffenbach current-day GPS.
66 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 used in ways that would astound those who discovered them. This is what Top 25 research universities, 2013 some call the Innovation Ecosystem, 1 Harvard University which is essential to America’s global 2 Stanford University economic and innovation status and 3 University of California, Berkeley rests on the nation’s collective invest- 4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ment in research universities. 5 University of Cambridge (U.K.) Yet funding for our public univer- 6 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) sities, which educate 70 percent of all 7 Princeton University undergraduates, has declined to the 8 Columbia University point where the cost of a college educa- 9 University of Chicago tion rests increasingly on the backs of 10 University of Oxford (U.K.) our students. 11 Yale University The Budget Control Act of 2011 12 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) mandates reductions in federal spend- 13 Cornell University ing of about $1 trillion over the next 14 University of California, San Diego nine years. This is a short-term budget 15 University of Pennsylvania fix with a devastatingly high cost to the 16 University of Washington long-term productivity of our economy 17 Johns Hopkins University and the vitality of our society. The re- 18 University of California, San Francisco sult in 2013 alone: a $12.5-billion re- 19 University of Wisconsin, Madison duction in federally financed research 20 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland) and, according to the Information 21 University of Tokyo (Japan) Technology & Innovation Foundation, 22 University College London (U.K.) the loss to the economy of an estimated 23 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 200,000 jobs. 24 Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine (U.K.) America’s global standing is envi- 25 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign able, but in danger of eroding. We sim- U.S. INSTITUTIONS IN BOLD ply can’t afford to curb key research SOURCE: SHANGHAI JIAO TONG UNIVERSITY efforts and undermine university- powered economic activity. It is ironic and alarming that other nations are fast Top 10 universities reporting most R&D spending in all fields, 2011 emulating the federal-government/ 1 Johns Hopkins University $2.14 billion (includes Applied Physics Lab) research-university partnership that 2 University of Michigan $1.27 billion has made the United States the world’s 3 University of Washington $1.14 billion technological and scientific giant even 4 University of Wisconsin, Madison $1.11 billion as the danger of that model’s system- 5 Duke University $1.02 billion atic dismantling here at home becomes 6 UC San Diego $1 billion increasingly apparent. 7 UC San Francisco $995 million Our strategic federal investment in 8 UCLA $982 million our universities has provided immense 9 Stanford University $908 million dividends to the nation and to the world 10 University of Pittsburgh $899 million for generations now. It is a commit- SOURCE: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION ment we cannot abandon. ■
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 67 by Arthur Levine, President, Woodrow Wilson Foundation and former President and Professor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Higher Education in a GLOBAL, DIGITAL Information Economy R Editor’s Note: This essay draws on portions of an article published in April 2013 at InsiderHigherEd.com.
The lot of higher education in the ium and quadrivium, was established body with initiatives 25 years ahead years ahead will be that of every other in order to educate a learned clergy to of their time—was nearly bankrupted social institution in the country. Every govern the colonies. This model held when there was little public interest. single institution will undergo pro- sway through the antebellum period. In The president who authored the reforms found change. the years before the Civil War, however, was fired. Union College was an excep- Driving this transformation is criticism mounted as the gap between tion that thrived by embracing science America’s transition from a national, the college and society grew larger. and engineering. It created the secret analog industrial economy to a global, For the most part, higher educa- sauce blending the old and new, even- digital information economy. Our so- tion resisted significant change. Indeed, tually achieving an enrollment greater cial institutions—government, media, Yale, the college with the largest enroll- than Harvard’s and Yale’s combined. healthcare, finance, and education— ment in the country, was an articulate During and after the Civil War, rather were all created for the former. As a and forceful proponent for maintain- than incremental reforms, replace- result, they appear to be broken today, ing the status quo. In 1828, faced with ment initiatives boomed. New institu- working less well now than they a blistering attack by the Connecticut tions were created. The Massachusetts once did. legislature for its programmatic irrele- Institute of Technology was created spe- In the years ahead, consumers vance, Yale issued a powerful defense of cifically for the study of science and in- and stakeholders will demand that all the classical curriculum, which was em- dustrial technology. Cornell University these institutions be updated to meet braced by colleges around the country. opened its doors proclaiming it would contemporary needs. This can occur At the same time, there were efforts offer “any person, any study.” The first either by repairing the existing institu- to repair or reform the college, mostly graduate school in America was estab- tions or by creating new institutions to small ones. A typical example: adding lished in Baltimore—Johns Hopkins. replace them. to the curriculum instruction in modern The University of Chicago brought to- This is what occurred in American language and science. Larger initiatives gether the major reforms of the era on higher education in the past, as the were generally unsuccessful. Attempts a grand scale, including coeducation, United States made the transition from to inaugurate graduate education re- graduate and professional schools, the a local agricultural to a national indus- peatedly failed, costing more than one PhD degree, research institutes, a sum- trial economy. The classical agrarian president his job. Brown—which in mer school, a university press, and college, imported by colonists from 1842 adopted one of the most vision- much more. 17th-century England along with its ary programs of the era, transforming These were new institutions that curriculum rooted in the ancient triv- its curriculum, programs, and student better met the needs of an industrial-
68 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 izing America. An entity called the pantheon of leaders of the industrial Change has occurred with no grand vi- university, imported from Germany, transformation, Eliot, who championed sion of the system that the future will was established with what would be- and carried out change at the oldest and require. With society’s future evolving come a mission of teaching, research, one of the most esteemed colleges in and still unknowable, what occurs in- and service. It offered instruction in the the nation, was a giant. stead is experimentation in higher edu- professions essential to an industrial By the early decades of the 20th cation to meet the perceived needs of society, organized knowledge into rel- century, American higher education the times. New ideas are tried; some evant specialty areas, hired faculty with had changed. Graduate studies and ad- succeed, many fail. By successive ap- expertise in those areas, and not only vanced degrees were adopted. These proximations what emerges over time transmitted the knowledge of the past, became requirements for faculty posi- is the higher education system neces- but advanced the frontiers of knowl- tions. Research and public service were sary to serve the evolved society. edge for the future. added to the teaching mission of the We are witnessing precisely that At the same time, a number of college. Professional schools in fields kind of experimentation today. Massive specialized institutions emerged. like engineering, business, and educa- open online courses, or MOOCs, are a Institutions focusing on technology and tion became staples. Continuing educa- good example. They have captured the engineering—epitomized by MIT and tion and correspondence courses were attention of higher education and the modeled on the European polytech- added. Elective courses and majors imagination of the nation. However, we nics—were created to promote the sci- evolved. Disputation, recitation, and have no idea whether they will or will ence and technology of the industrial era memorization, the pedagogies of the not persist or be recognizable in the fu- and prepare its leaders. As the evolving agrarian college, gave way to lectures, ture that unfolds. Next year, they may economy demanded more education of seminars, and laboratories. Enrollments give way to COOCs or ZOOCs. its citizenry, so the normal school was soared, as 4 percent of the college-aged Social change is a constant, and so also introduced to prepare more and population attended college. is higher education’s adjustment to it. better teachers. In the same spirit, the The colleges persisted, but they When the change in society is deleteri- two-year college, originally called a ju- were no longer the classical colleges of ous, as in the McCarthy era, it is the re- nior college and later a community col- yore. They adopted many of the changes sponsibility of higher education to resist lege, was established initially to offer of the era. With the exception of a tiny it and right the society. This is a natural lower-division undergraduate education number of colleges, programs based in process, almost like a dance. However, in the local community. And the federal the trivium and quadrivium disappeared. in times of massive social change like government created a bridge between This outpouring of repairs and the transformation of America to an the old and emerging worlds, agrarian replacements over nearly a century industrial or information economy, a and industrial America. The land-grant coalesced into America’s contempo- commensurate transformation on the college, now found in all 50 states, was rary industrial-era system of higher part of higher education is required. designed to provide instruction in agri- education. It was codified in the 1960 What does seem likely is this: As in culture and the mechanic arts without California Master Plan, establishing the industrial era, the primary changes excluding classical studies. Colleges three sectors of higher education— in higher education are unlikely to were also established for populations elite, mass, and universal access, occur from within, although some ex- largely excluded from traditional higher composed of universities, colleges, isting institutions will certainly trans- educations; institutions for blacks and and community colleges. Other states form themselves as Harvard did in the women opened their doors. Catholic similarly restructured their public in- decades after the Civil War. Rather, the higher education mushroomed. stitutions, while private institutions boldest innovations are more likely to A second round of larger repair ini- sustained a wide range of programs and come from outside or from the periph- tiatives followed, many of them mod- approaches. A for-profit sector has also ery of existing higher education, where eled on the replacements, but certainly grown in the years since. they are unencumbered by the need to not all. Exemplary of these efforts is This is the history of higher educa- slough off current practice. They may the work of Charles Eliot, who car- tion in America. Change has occurred be not-for-profits, for-profits, or hy- ried out 40 years of reforms during his by accretion. The new has been added brids. Names like Western Governors presidency that remade Harvard from to the old and the old, over time, mod- University, Coursera, and Udacity leap a college to a leading university. In the ernized to meet the needs of the times. to mind.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 69 We are likely to see one or more cess university is a question mark. It is long, drawn-out, herky-jerky evolu- new institutions emerge. Each revolu- possible that those with sprawling cam- tion of higher education which oc- tion created new needs for higher edu- puses will shed real estate in favor of curred during the industrial revolution. cation and unique institutions to meet more online programs, more compact Instead, it would be valuable to plan for them. The agrarian era was character- learning centers, and closer connec- the future. ized by elite higher education, meaning tions with employers and other higher At watersheds in the nation’s and only a tiny percentage of the popula- education units. higher education’s history, national tion needed to attend and the college So what do we do? There is a greater task forces and commissions have was the vehicle for educating them. sense of urgency today than in the in- been created either to reexamine and Industrial America required more edu- dustrial-era transformation of higher strengthen or reimagine and reinvent cation and mass access to college. Two education; perhaps the criticism of higher education. In terms of reimag- major institutions were established to higher education is more consequential ining and reinventing higher educa- advance the industrial nation and in- now, given the dependency of colleges tion, in the years following World War crease access to college—the univer- and universities on government. More II, President Truman established a sity and the community college. importantly, this urgency comes from White House Commission on Higher The information economy, which the pace and scope of socioeconomic Education. The Truman Commission requires a more educated population change. In industrial America, progress produced the six-volume report Higher than ever before in history, will seek was determined by natural resources Education for Democracy, which suc- universal access to postsecondary edu- and physical labor. In an information cessfully created a higher education cation and is likely to create a new insti- economy, the drivers are knowledge blueprint for America’s post-war indus- tution to provide it. The goal will be to and minds. This makes higher educa- trial economy, including the need for establish access to college for all at low tion the dynamo that will power the na- dramatic expansion and targets for ac- cost. Digital instruction will make this tion’s future and determine its capacity complishing this; the end of barriers to possible. The locus of operation will be to compete in a global economy—one access and the establishment of a sys- global. Industrial economies focus on in which the United States appears to tem that guaranteed able young people common processes over fixed times, be losing ground educationally. both the opportunity to attend college while information economies empha- Change in higher education is and choice among institutions; the cre- size time-variable, common outcomes. also more urgent because we can see ation of a new institution, the commu- The universal access institution will the consequences of inaction in other nity college; a design for financial aid; offer instruction that is time-variable, industries. The failure of print news and much, much more. individualized, and mastery-based, media to respond to the digital revo- In terms of reexamination, rooted in explicit learning outcomes. lution produced sharp declines in Carnegie Corporation in 1967 estab- Degrees and credits are likely to newspaper readership and advertising lished the Carnegie Commission on give way to competency certification revenue. It rendered the historic busi- Higher Education, which had the as- and badges. ness model obsolete. The inability to signment of reviewing the industrial- Traditional higher education insti- repair these organizations gave rise era system of higher education to make tutions—universities and colleges— to digital replacements such as the recommendations on how to polish and can be expected to continue, though Huffington Post. The newspaper busi- improve it. Chaired by Clark Kerr, the they will evolve as did their colonial ness has been decimated. Major met- architect of the University of California predecessors and their numbers will ropolitan dailies have closed. Print and the 1960 California Master Plan, likely decline. At greatest risk will be editions have been curtailed or ceased the Commission issued a bookcase regional, part-time commuter univer- to be published. Long-respected insti- of reports on seemingly every aspect sities and less selective, low-endow- tutions like the Washington Post and of higher education, offering analysis ment colleges, particularly in New the Boston Globe were sold for bargain and recommendations targeted to in- England, the mid-Atlantic states, and basement prices. stitutions of higher education and their the Midwest, where there are too many We cannot allow higher education stakeholders with the goal of com- institutions and too few future students. to fail similarly, through inaction or pleting the development of the higher The future of the community college unresponsiveness. At the same time, education system America needed for and its relationship to the universal ac- the stakes are too high to permit the the industrial age. The results were as-
70 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 tounding in shaping higher education dations for accomplishing this. Like Precisely because we live in a policy and practice for the nation. the Carnegie Commission, it should digital era, conversation about how to This is once again a time for reimag offer a multiplicity of data-based re- change higher education is ubiquitous. ining and reinventing higher education. ports on key issues, targeted specifi- From tweets about federal higher edu- A task force combining the best of the cally to the stakeholders who need to cation policy to blog posts about local Truman and Carnegie Commissions enact them. At the very least, such an college and university concerns, we offers a vehicle for doing this. In the effort promises a common vocabulary, have more dialogue than ever, though manner of the Truman Commission, it vision, and set of recommendations to the relative value of each contribution should offer the nation and the higher permit shared discourse about the fu- remains to be seen. Now it is time to education community a vision of the ture of higher education. It could pro- form the group of thoughtful, informed, postsecondary education needed for a vide much more, serving as a catalyst influential stakeholders who will cre- global, digital, information age, along for action and offering a roadmap for ate a specific blueprint for American with a set of broad policy recommen- concerted engagement. higher education in a new era. ■
PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP Continued from page 39 self-understanding of your institutions. Academic Council, and I used that op- very effectively on such occasions. There are a number of ways to do this; portunity to speak from the heart about Shortly after 9/11, when all our Duke I’ll briefly suggest four of them. the crucial importance of the liberal obligations and events had been can- First and most obvious, you should arts to help us deal thoughtfully with celled to allow everyone to focus on use the bully pulpit of the college presi- the horrors of that day. I paid homage, understanding what had happened and dency deliberately and effectively to of course, to the scientists and engi- honoring the dead, Bob and I decided make the case for the liberal arts. You neers who would help us understand spontaneously to drive to Wilmington, should consider how you can use the how buildings can be built to withstand to walk along the ocean at Wrightsville occasions of convocation, commence- shocks and exitways constructed; but I Beach. I was driving at one point, Bob ment, ground-breakings for new build- noted that nothing the engineers could was napping, and the local classical ings, speeches to the local Rotary Club teach us would keep crazed men from music station played the Fauré Requiem or the state 4-H club convention, ad- smashing large jets into tall buildings somewhere along a stretch of Interstate dresses to alumni clubs, all the kinds to make a point about their political 40 in eastern North Carolina. I listened of events where you are called upon to views. I talked about the importance of with intense emotion to the movement speak. This is a truly precious oppor- the social sciences in helping us under- entitled “Dona Eis Requiem,” “Give tunity that few other leaders have, to stand that human, social dimension of to Them Peace.” I was overcome with address your community in situations 9/11 and do our best to prevent a repeti- emotion and had to pull over to the side where there is likely to be respectful tion of the day, and also understand and of the road. And as I told the Duke fac- attention to your message, at least for appreciate the motives and sacrifices of ulty, that was the first time I fully ac- awhile! Use the opportunity with zest! the people who gave their own lives to knowledged the sorrow and shock of A few minutes ago I referred to my save others. But I reserved my deepest the events, and found solace. having cited Montaigne on the “back praise for the humanities, which pro- This is the kind of use you can make room of the mind” at several convoca- vided the context and frameworks for of the bully pulpit: in your speeches tions, and mentioned how many stu- sharing and dealing with our grief and you can draw on the particular credibil- dents and their parents had later recalled shock. So many people spoke of how ity and dignity of the president, and use this phrase and how it had helped shape poetry or music had provided for them it to make the case for the education their lives. I remember also the speech the best, indeed the only way to grapple your college provides. I gave to the faculty of Duke soon after with what had happened. The second way you can use your 9/11. I was scheduled to present the As part of my speech I told a per- presidential leadership in supporting annual report of the president to the sonal story, as one can sometimes do the liberal arts is to “put your money
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 71 where your mouth is.” That means advancing the liberal arts mission of 19th/early 20th-century poet who using your fund-raising skill and ob- your institution through their teaching. lived in Alexandria, from one of his ligations to raise money for exciting You can cite their innovative course best-known works, Ithaca. In transla- programs like Greenblatt’s “Imaginary work and impact on the lives of their tion: “When you start on your journey Journeys.” You can make this case ef- students, linking this specifically to the to Ithaca,/then pray that the road is fectively to foundations and generous power of the liberal arts. You can en- long,/full of adventure, full of knowl- alumni who remember their own liberal sure that these awards and recognitions edge.” This captures for me the lifelong arts education fondly, and thus enhance are appropriately highlighted in college learning aspect of a strong liberal arts the resources available for this purpose. publications and in messages to parents education, full of adventure, full of I remember with particular de- and prospective students. knowledge, and we hope that the road light a fund-raising conversation with One more way in which you can is long. Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a dedicated use your leadership as president, per- The second citation is a few lines Wellesley alumna and close friend. haps the most effective of all: you can from Emily Dickinson, 19th-century Kathryn wanted to make a major gift be a model for emulation, by others on American, written to a grieving friend: to the college to advance international campus and by the outside world, in “Intimacy with Mystery, after great understanding, which had been her the ways you use and embody liberal Space, will usurp it’s place/Moving own PhD field many decades earlier. arts learning in your own discourse, on in the Dark like Loaded Boats at Together we worked to an outcome both formal and informal. If you cite Nights,/though there is no Course, that gave joy to both of us and many examples of fine literature, draw on there is Boundlessness.” A good liberal other people: Kathryn’s gift would instances from history, refer to the arts arts education makes us intimate with be the naming, foundational gift for a and describe learning in the sciences in mystery, and also helps us move in the new art museum at Wellesley, a badly liberal terms, you will set an example dark by providing a sense of byways needed enhancement of our liberal arts for others and have an influence greater through the boundlessness. mission. We had one of the earliest than you may expect. Rhetoric was one And the final poem, in Arabic, is by and best art history departments in the of the original artes liberales, and it can Al-Sha’afi: country, and a fine collection mostly still be one of the most transformative. According to the measure of hard- donated by alumnae and their fami- ship are heights achieved, lies, but only paltry and badly designed Conclusion And he who seeks loftiness must space to show and study these works Taking my own advice about lard- keep vigil by night; of art. Kathryn and I agreed that art is ing your language with liberal learn- As for he who wants heights with- a truly international language and that ing, I will conclude by quoting from out toil, Wellesley’s museum would include three poems I discovered in a brochure He wastes his life seeking the im- works that would speak directly to that on a recent visit to the Georgetown possible— purpose, works from many countries University School of Foreign Service So seek nobility now, then sleep and eras. And after our partnership in in Doha, Qatar. Each poem is about once more (finally), building the museum Kathryn herself journeying; I was myself on a fasci- He who seeks pearls must dive into took up painting in her 80s, and has be- nating journey, visiting universities the sea.” come a highly respected artist on Mt. in the Gulf States, where I had never As this final poem reminds us, a lib- Desert Island, Maine. been; and I was impressed to find ten eral arts education is not always easy; it In addition to using your bully pul- poems in different languages featured involves close attention, taking risks, pit wisely and putting your fund-rais- in the admissions brochure for a school exploring uncharted territory, diving ing acumen where your mouth is, the of foreign service in the Middle East. into the sea. But despite these chal- third example of presidential leader- Because journeying is an apt metaphor lenges, the deep rewards of a liberal ship in support of the liberal arts could for a liberal arts education, one that I education are surely worth it, for all the be the way you honor faculty members. and many of you often use, these three reasons I’ve mentioned and many oth- With the teaching awards and other fragments provide an especially appro- ers that you will each devise to make distinctions your college offers, make priate conclusion to this speech. your case vigorously as presidents sure to single out for praise and support The first lines were written in committed to this cause. Good luck those who have been most effective in Greek by Constantine Cavafy, a late- with your task, and happy journeys! ■
72 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 by Ronald J. Daniels, Phillip M. Spector, Rebecca Goetz, President, Johns Hopkins University Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Research Assistant Johns Hopkins University
Fault Lines in the Compact: HIGHER EDUCATION and the Public Interest in the United States R Editor’s Note: This essay was originally prepared for the IXth Glion Colloquium held in June 2013 in Glion-above-Montreux, Switzerland.
The research university stands as search investment; marked reductions bust and dynamic compact in the United one of the most admired and emulated in state support for public universities; States. Public institutions and instru- of American institutions. non-trivial university tuition increases ments have shaped the growth of the Year after year, American universi- that have raised vexing issues of ac- ties dominate the international rankings cess and affordability (and triggered of institutions of higher education. The threats of governmental intervention); demand for places in American pro- and highly publicized and acrimoni- The relationship grams continues to grow, and the qual- ous governance conflicts that have pit- ity of matriculating students continues ted publicly appointed state governing between government to improve. The prospects for students boards against university leaders (on graduating from American universities subjects ranging from program priori- and the university continue to strengthen, as measured ties, to the use of technology, to cost along dimensions as varied as enhanced control and pricing). in the United lifetime earnings, life expectancy, and There is no gainsaying that quality of civic participation. And the throughout American history the role States is, in the research contributions of American of the university has commanded the universities continue to command sci- attention and intervention of govern- minds of many entific recognition and fuel economic ment. This is to be expected. Under the innovation and life-saving discoveries. neo-classical framework, government commentators, And yet, in spite of these achieve- has a central role to play in address- ments, the relationship between gov- ing a host of market failures involv- fraught. The points ernment and the university in the ing higher education and in ensuring of conflict are many. United States is, in the minds of many the Jeffersonian promise of equality commentators, fraught. The points of of opportunity. conflict are many: federal governmen- And indeed, over the years, govern- modern American university: The fed- tal failure to protect the real value of re- ments and universities had forged a ro- eral government has invested over $500
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 73 billion in academic research and $1.7 In this paper, we explore the state private initiative, investment, and inge- trillion in student aid since 1970, has of the compact between the govern- nuity in this area without distortion of created and financed a range of grant ment and the university in the United incentives or danger of abuse. and loan programs aimed at subsidiz- States and the prospects for construc- Public Goods and Positive ing student participation, and oversees tive reengagement. In the first part of Externalities. Some share of the ben- a vast system of regional accreditation the paper, we discuss the rationales for efits of post-secondary education— that seek to address quality and related government intervention in the higher promotion of research and discovery, concerns. State governments—in many education sector. In Part II, we briefly inculcation of civic values, and eco- cases, aided by federal legislation and sketch the history of the compact be- nomic growth—accrue to the public support—have founded state public tween the government and universities, good and not to individual students and the ways in which government has alone. This means that without gov- shaped and supported the flourishing of ernment support, the education and re- the sector. In Part III, we canvass the search activities associated with higher It is against sources of the contemporary conflict education will be under-supplied from between the government and higher ed- a social welfare perspective. Take, the backdrop ucation, which we argue has been ex- for example, basic research activity. acerbated by the economic and social Without supplementary funding, it is of decades of impact of the Great Recession. In Part unlikely that private parties will dedi- IV, we identify several ideas for insti- cate a significant amount of their re- constructive tutional and policy reform, while also sources to such research, which has locating these questions in a broader grounded much of the industrial inno- collaboration that debate about inter-generational equity vation and other achievements whose and the capacity of government to in- benefits extend far beyond the univer- the current malaise vest in our future. We argue that, al- sity itself. Columbia University Provost though there is scope for more creative Emeritus Jonathan Cole estimated that between university use of policy instruments to redress “perhaps as many as 80 percent of new some of the current tensions between industries are derived from discoveries and government is the state and research universities, ul- at American universities.” The wide- so disturbing. timately a broader and more systematic spread social benefits of these research set of interventions aimed at redressing activities provide a clear rationale for rising inequality in the United States government investment. universities and actively supported their is necessary. Wholly apart from its contribu- activities, providing direct appropria- tions to basic research, universities are tions to institutions as well as grant aid Part I: The Role of Government among the most powerful engines for to students. At the same time, our uni- The market for higher education economic growth and development. versities have returned countless ben- is beset by several frailties—public Higher educational attainment has been efits to the communities in which they goods, human capital market failures, connected to reduced crime rates, lower reside, anchoring and accelerating the information asymmetries, and equity unemployment rates, and reductions economies in the surrounding areas, concerns—that demand government in public spending on assistance and serving as an engine for upward mo- intervention. social support programs. One recent bility and economic advancement, and To be sure, the state has not al- study shows that an additional year of birthing countless world-altering dis- ways produced efficacious regulation average university level education in a coveries for the betterment of humanity. in this domain. And yet, this should country raises national output by a re- It is against this backdrop of de- not be seen as an argument for an end markable 19 percent. The university is cades of constructive collaboration, to government’s role altogether. One also a powerful source for upward so- one that has conferred staggering ben- must instead ask how it can intervene cial economic mobility for its students efits on American society, that the cur- in a targeted manner that responds to and their families (this rationale over- rent malaise between university and the risks posed by institutional actors, laps with the equity rationale below). government is so disturbing. so the public can obtain the benefits of For all of these reasons, the state
74 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 has a prevailing interest in nurturing nalistic role in shaping those decisions. and the state did not always act in the the sector. However, there may be some modest interest of the university. However, A range of intangible benefits can scope for government intervention to over time, history reflected a dawning also be traced to higher education. For resolve information asymmetries be- recognition of the two institutions’ in- example, volunteerism and voting rates tween students and post-secondary in- dispensable relationship. are higher among those with bachelor’s stitutions. Accordingly, the state has a Even before the American degrees than high school graduates. role in requiring those institutions that Revolution, colonial governments ded- Universities also play a central role in receive public funds to publish infor- icated transportation taxes, sales taxes, advancing civic culture and commu- mation respecting the quality of the and other sources of revenue to the nity cohesion. These non-pecuniary entering class, the quality and charac- founding and maintaining of a college benefits to society provide yet another ter of the academic program, student in each colony. The methods and types powerful set of rationales for govern- completion rates, faculty research ac- of institutions varied from state to state, ment involvement. tivity, and career placement patterns but there was, even then, a commitment Imperfections in Human Capital for graduates. to supporting the provision of higher Markets. The state also has a strong Equity. Given the considerable education, and a belief that education interest in intervening in higher educa- role that institutions of higher educa- was a fundamental state interest. tion to right failures in human capital tion play as gatekeepers to economic The relationship only grew stronger markets that constrain the ability of opportunity and professional advance- during the first century of the republic. students to finance their education. ment, the representation of various One key moment in this relationship oc- Banks are often reluctant to pro- communities in these institutions and curred in 1862, when Congress enacted vide private loans to students, due to the social consequences of admissions the Morrill Land Grant Act, through their inability to secure collateral in policies must be taken seriously. Most which the federal government would the students’ prospective human capi- universities are committed to recruit- provide land grants to certain eligible tal, and their difficulty of anticipating ing the strongest possible student body, states to support collegiate programs in students’ likelihood of academic suc- and the admissions decision is typically “useful arts” such as agriculture, me- cess and future economic prospects. In merit driven. Even so, universities chanics, and military instruction. Over the best of circumstances, banks will present a unique capability to remedy the next thirty years, Congress would charge a risk premium that will often persistent and self-perpetuating ethnic expand the sweep of the Morrill Act to price students—who are reluctant to or socioeconomic imbalances in higher the entire nation. These statutes set a accumulate substantial amounts of debt education and society at large. States powerful precedent: they expanded un- at such an early age—out of higher ed- have an interest in supporting and pre- dergraduate colleges into the university ucation. This is a particular challenge serving the unique role of universities model across the United States with for students of lower socioeconomic as a force for equal opportunity for its multiple programs beyond the liberal backgrounds, leading to distributional citizens, and making sure that all citi- arts, and they enlisted the states in an effects. All of these problems lead to zens are given a chance to obtain the effort to make higher education acces- suboptimal private lending in higher skills and training that are essential to sible to groups outside of the privileged education, and a need for government upward mobility in our knowledge- elites, making them available to the intervention to compensate for these based society. working classes of the period. failures by reducing the amount stu- The first half of the 20th century dents need to borrow. Part II: The Forging of the saw the emergence of state legislatures Information Asymmetries. Since Compact as major players in their own right in post-secondary education is inherently For each of these reasons, and in the funding of higher education: states optional, and potential post-second- each of these ways, the state has played in the Midwest and the West in par- ary students are of an age where they a fundamental role in shaping higher ticular used tax revenues to fund and should be regarded as being capable education in the United States. The grow universities into the tens of thou- of making rational and informed deci- compact we know today was forged sands of students. The levels and types sions regarding the future course of over time across the sweep of American of support varied considerably from their education, the government should history: The university did not always state to state. California, for example, perhaps be wary of exercising a pater- act in response to the needs of the state, made access to education a priority and
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 75 charged no tuition, while other states host of federal agencies would har- cial support for higher education. The saw higher education as a privilege ness the research talent at universities many reasons for the state to invest in and kept tuition at public institutions to create what Clark Kerr would later higher education remain as true today higher. Nonetheless, this area saw the call the “Federal Grant University”— as they did in earlier times (perhaps expansion of state support that would about 20 institutions received almost even more so given the rise of the eventually lead to the creation of re- 80 percent of federal research funds. human capital economy), and yet the nowned public research universities Support for university research is willingness and/or capacity of govern- that operate at the level of private insti- still one of the federal government’s ment to invest in higher education has tutions while working to serve a larger most important avenues of support for waned. On average, state level sup- segment of the state’s population. higher education. port for higher education has declined The federal government would At the same time, the Truman 25 percent in the last decade, while in stake out an even more influential Commission Report on Higher many states, the cuts have been steeper and striking role in expanding access Education chronicled fundamental con- still (National Research Council, to higher education with the GI Bill cerns with equity and access in higher 2012). What is more, the level of state in 1944, which guaranteed up to four education. Among its influences, the support for higher education is signifi- years of tuition, fees, and a stipend at Truman Report would lay the ground- cantly lower than it was a few decades a U.S. institution of higher education in work for future financial aid policies. ago: in 1990 states spent an average exchange for service in the U.S. mili- One of the most historic steps along of $9,100 per student on higher edu- tary. By 1947, veterans accounted for this path at the federal level was the cation, while in 2011 the number has 49 percent of college admissions. The passage of the Higher Education Act dropped to $6,700 per student, both in increases in enrollments spurred by the of 1965, and then the amendments 2011 dollars. GI Bill and continuing through the 50s to it in 1972, which established di- A similar (although softer) trajec- and 60s led to the acceptance of enroll- rect grants and loans to students. The tory can be seen in federal research ment-based funding at the state level, Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, investment: After the dramatic dou- allowing public universities to absorb later renamed the Pell Grant, remains bling of government investment in NIH the new students without dramatically a major source of aid for low-income research during the Clinton adminis- increasing tuition levels. The fed- students. These grants are portable, al- tration, the real value of support has eral government, concerned about the lowing students to become consumers declined almost 20 percent in the last growth of diploma mills and looking to of education and forcing institutions decade. As a consequence, the average protect veterans and taxpayer dollars, to compete for their aid dollars. The age of a first RO1 research award has also began making eligibility for funds federal government has continued to risen steadily, while the success rate for contingent on accreditation. This pro- raise the maximum grant amount, and applications has steadily declined. The gram laid the foundation for increasing spending on the program more than consequences of this government with- access and affordability through por- doubled between 2000 and 2010. Many drawal have been profound for our uni- table student grants, which would be- state governments also took steps in versities and their research mission, as come one of the most important forms this period to make higher education well as the status of the United States of federal support for higher education more affordable and accessible to a as the world’s leader in research (and in the next half of the century. significant portion of the population industrial competitiveness): As other Soon after the GI bill, two docu- through appropriations to institutions countries continue to increase their re- ments set the modern trajectory for the and low tuition. search expenditures, the U.S. share of federal government’s involvement in world R&D expenditures has declined U.S. higher education for the next fifty Part III: Fault Lines and the significantly. All of this has occurred years, one on the issue of research sup- Great Recession at the precise moment when universi- port, the other on funding: Vannevar And yet, despite these energetic ties with academic health centers in Bush’s Science: The Endless Frontier state interventions in higher education, the United States are also wrestling in 1945 argued for the essential role fault lines have emerged in the relation- with significant changes to health care of federal support for basic research, ship in recent years. models and declining clinical revenues, using competitive grants to universi- One area of very real tension con- making it even more difficult for them ties. Over the next several decades, a cerns the level of government finan- to weather these financial shocks.
76 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Another fault line has surfaced overlooked. Governors have sought to children’s enrollment in university. around issues of cost and affordability. scale back low-enrollment programs or Finally, universities themselves were Universities have raised tuition sig- fields with less perceived utility post- directly buffeted by the effects of the nificantly in recent years: While me- graduation, such as the humanities, Great Recession in the form of sig- dian family income rose 147 percent and have sought to tie funding to job nificant decreases in private donations, from 1982 to 2007, tuition and fees placement and similar metrics. Critics endowment reductions, and increased rose 439 percent over the same period. have also pointed to declining comple- demands for financial aid support. The share of income families spend on tion rates as evidence that universities And although the country has higher education has risen for decades, may not be accomplishing their fun- started to recover from the Great and the rise has been sharpest for low- damental education mission, as well Recession, the challenges surround- income families, who need to spend as recent studies that reach a similar about half of their income to send a conclusion. One recent analysis by child to college. Despite efforts by sev- sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa eral of the leading American research Roksa (2011) maintains that 45 percent Empirically, the universities to augment financial aid, of students had effectively made no and the expansions to Pell Grants and progress in critical thinking, complex benefits of higher other federal aid programs instituted reasoning, and writing in their first two by the Obama administration, there years at U.S. colleges and universities. education have has been a declining level of participa- (Notably, two recent studies by the tion by low- and moderate-income stu- Council for Aid to Education contra- clearly been shown dents in four-year university programs. dict that finding, arguing that there is In 2010, the Advisory Committee on a significant improvement in students’ (particularly in Student Financial Assistance presented performance between their freshman a report to Congress on increasing in- and senior years.) relation to lifetime equality in college access: While total Each of these concerns might have college enrollment had increased over continued to vex the relationship be- earnings and risks the past few decades, their study found tween the state and higher education, that between 1992 and 2004 enroll- but would not have commanded the of unemployment). ment rates of academically qualified policy salience they do today, if not low-income high school graduates for the devastating impact of the Great ing the federal government’s fiscal in four-year colleges decreased from Recession. In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. pressures continue to impact the sec- 54 percent to 40 percent (Advisory labor market lost 8.8 million jobs and tor. For instance, federally mandated Committee on Student Financial total wealth declined by $15 trillion. sequestration will reduce NIH fund- Assistance, 2010). The median household income fell to ing by another 7.8 percent, the largest Still another area of tension has its lowest level since 1996, meaning cut in its history. The price of attend- concerned value and innovation. that the recession effectively wiped out ing a four-year public university in Empirically, the benefits of higher edu- the middle class income gains for the the United States will have increased cation have clearly been shown (par- last 15 years. The effects of the con- 27 percent above the rate of inflation ticularly in relation to lifetime earnings traction on the higher education sec- across the last five years, even though and risks of unemployment). However, tor have been profound and varied. At average family incomes will have ac- many have begun to question the ob- one level, the Great Recession placed tually declined during that period even jective and mission of a university, and enormous financial stress on the states’ when adjusted for inflation (Oliff, the pedagogical approach of universi- fiscal capacity and constricted their Palacios, Johnson, & Leachman, ties, and inserted themselves into aca- ability to maintain their investments in 2013). Colleges are downsizing: some demic decision-making. Universities higher education. At another level, the have cut as many as 200 academic pro- are increasingly viewed as engines of Great Recession impaired the ability grams, while also slashing funds for job creation and wealth. More than of many families who suffered wealth instructional staff, library, and student ever, their essential role as wellsprings and income reductions to provide the services. More and more students are of citizenship and social welfare is level of anticipated support for their choosing to enroll first in community
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 77 colleges instead of four-year schools, the humanities, and said, “If you want The loans address concerns of liquidity, but these schools also face significant to take gender studies that’s fine. Go enforceability, and complexity in the budget cuts. Sixty-nine percent of to a private school, and take it… But current system and the daunting fear of Americans now feel that college I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s students that they will not be able to pay is unaffordable and that there are not going to get someone a job.” And back loans. This approach to student highly qualified students who cannot President Obama has made college debt has been popular in Britain and gain access to a university education affordability one of the centerpieces Australia for years; although the United (Immerwahr & Johnson, 2010). of his second term agenda, emphasiz- States has offered an income contingent All of this in turn has fueled ing that government “can’t just keep plan for federal loans, it is not widely mounting concern and heightened on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” used by students, many of whom are and even suggesting that universities not aware of their repayment options or would need to keep costs down or lose are put off by the program’s complex- federal funding. ity. The Obama administration has taken We must explore steps to simplify the process and make Part IV: New Approaches and information more available to borrow- new approaches to Enduring Questions ers, and the administration’s proposed It may be tempting to dismiss many 2014 budget included an expansion of financial assistance of these tensions as cyclical, and be- the option to all borrowers, eliminating lieve that when the economy rebounds, the income caps and other barriers that that do a more states will reinvest, tensions will cool, currently make some students ineligible. and the earlier equilibrium of construc- We can also do a better job of effective job tive collaboration will return. addressing the scope of states to However, there are reasons to be- undermine the U.S. government’s ex- of addressing lieve that these recent tensions reflect penditure of funds through the oppor- deeper structural issues, and the Great tunistic substitution of federal for state market failures and Recession has raised fundamental funds. As one example, the 2009 federal and vexing questions surrounding the stimulus created a $48.6 billion State aligning resources strength, durability, and content of the Fiscal Stabilization Fund that provided to areas of need. compact between state and university direct formula-based grant aid to states that command attention and resolution. to advance essential education reforms. At one level, addressing the con- However, 23 states cut spending on rhetoric on the part of government flict will require renewed federal and higher education in the first year that officials regarding questions of ris- state efforts in devising innovative and they received the federal funds. And ing costs, declining completion rates, thoughtful regulatory approaches. six of those states slashed spending and the value of a college education. For instance, we must explore new on higher education while increasing State officials in Wisconsin, Virginia, approaches to financial assistance that their total state spending, suggesting Montana, and others have all attacked do a more effective job of addressing that rather than using stimulus funds universities for rising costs and have market failures and aligning resources to offset necessary cuts, the grant al- imposed tuition freezes, even as state to areas of need. One promising set of lowed them to divert education spend- spending declines. Florida Governor options that has won favor in recent ing elsewhere (Cohen, 2010). We need Rick Scott has proposed charging dif- years involves income-contingent loan to explore methods of federal funding ferent rates of tuition for different repayment programs, through which that limit the opportunities for this sub- majors in an effort to drive students students pay what they can up front, stitution, including rewards to states toward STEM fields, saying, “If I’m and contract with the government to that increase their spending, directives going to take money from a citizen to defer any remaining payments until to states to maintain certain levels of put into education then I’m going to they graduate and are working. At that investment to receive federal funds, or take that money to create jobs.” North time, they pay any deferred fees as a the provision of funds to states through Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory fixed percentage of their income, an ob- competitions that are keyed to appro- has argued that there is no value to ligation enforced through the tax code. priate criteria rather than formulas.
78 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 And, we should seek policy tools to revenues increase, from tuition, endow- Americans are now less socially mo- redress the widening gap between the ments, and donations, so unavoidably bile than the citizens of a number of magnitude of state investment in, and will expenditures and costs. William other countries around the world. A state regulation of, higher education. Bowen (2012) argues that there are middle class upbringing is no longer Often, states will provide relatively inefficiencies too fundamental to how a guarantee of lifetime success, with a little in the way of investment in its universities are structured to be easily third of Americans raised in the middle higher education system, but involve resolved, including fixed costs such class falling below the middle class itself extensively in the internal affairs as specialized laboratories and faculty as adults. of its universities. For example, the with highly specialized talents. For most of U.S. history, higher University of Colorado receives only Whatever the cause, universities education was one of the most power- four percent of its budget from the state cannot remain unstirred much longer to ful mechanisms for social mobility in (the average public university received the changes roiling the industry around the nation, and served as a powerful about 20 percent), and finds itself the them. These changes include not only counterforce to rising stratification. target of significant and obtrusive the enormous financial strain in the However, caught in a spiral of rising regulations and intervention. The state U.S. economy, with the accompanying tuition and declining state investment, approves and reviews all academic calls for higher education to reduce tu- compounded by the fiscal effects of programs, establishes admissions stan- ition and control costs. It also involves the Great Recession, the capacity of dards, and prescribes standards for the manifold changes occasioned by higher education to play this role is construction and capital improvement. the information age: Higher education itself in jeopardy. The historic rate It is time to start a conversation about is famously one of the few industries of growth in educational attainment the importance of parity in the scope that until now have managed largely has slowed—the percentage of those of funding and intervention. This could to hold at bay the disruptive and poten- under 34 with a bachelor’s degree has include incentives for states to with- tially transformative effects of techno- remained virtually unchanged for de- draw from governance in situations logical development in the information cades—and the gap in enrollment rates where they have a de minimis stake in age. Universities have still largely un- between students from low- and high- operational support, or even a national explored the opportunities of this age, income families has risen steadily over conversation to develop norms and ex- ones with the capacity not only to re- the last forty years. Only 11 percent pectations for state regulation in a sec- shape and reduce administrative costs of students from the bottom quintile tor under strain. and improve services to students, but ever graduate, compared to 53 percent And yet, universities also must also expand mission and reach, aug- from the top. Our education system is shoulder their share of the burden for ment revenue and reshape pedagogy in not helping low-income students reach addressing the tensions in higher edu- ways we have never seen before. the same attainment as their higher- cation. The call has gone out for uni- And yet, in truth, all of the above income peers. versities to reduce tuition and control approaches can only take us so far. The As economists Claudia Goldin costs, and they must respond with problems we face are broader than only and Lawrence Katz (2008) argue, purpose. Of course, the precise cause higher education, and cannot be solved these trends in educational attainment of rising costs in higher education is by higher education policy standing deeply compound the problems of in- a matter of some debate. One theory alone. come equality across the American blames rising costs on stagnating pro- The Great Recession exposed in economy. The Great Recession has ductivity, and says it is difficult for a a profound way the weakening of the only widened this gap, with the college labor-intensive industry such as educa- middle class in America. Low- and educated recovering more quickly and tion to substitute capital for labor, and middle-income families were hit the bearing less of the brunt of the crisis. so as wages rise, so inevitably do costs. hardest by the downturn, and they have Those with a college degree actually Another theory, proposed by Howard been the slowest to recover. Families gained 187,000 jobs from December Bowen (1980), argues that universities’ in high-poverty areas lost the highest 2007 to January 2010, while those principal goals are excellence, influ- percentage of their wealth and were the with high school diplomas or less lost ence, and prestige and they are pre- most likely to be unemployed during 5.6 million jobs in this period, and pared to spend whatever is necessary the recession. According to a recent re- another 230,000 during the recovery to achieve these goals—in particular, as port from the Russell Sage Foundation, (Carnevale, Javasundera, & Cheah,
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 79 2012). More than half of the jobs cre- history—has nourished a cycle of in- to the strength of American higher ated during the recent recovery from novation and growth that has accrued education and to the country as a the recession have gone to workers to the benefit of all. The current ap- whole. To some degree, we believe with a college degree or higher, even proach to retirement funding is nothing that the preservation of the compact though they make up only a third of the less than a dramatic inter-generational requires a willingness of government labor force. transfer. To take only one example, the and university to adopt more innova- One of the principal ways to nar- Medicare funding formulas mean that tive instruments to ensure alignment row this divide is to invest in pre-K, male recipients only paid a dollar for of universities with well-established K-12 education, higher education, every three received. Because they live public goals. It also requires energetic training, and technology—in short, longer, the discrepancy is even greater public leadership that is aimed at pre- for women. serving (and, indeed, enhancing) the Without meaningful reform of level of state investment in higher these sorts of spending pattern, we are education given the sundry public ben- Since the founding tilting our priorities toward consump- efits associated with this sector. But, tion at the expense of investment. We most significantly, we believe that the of the Republic, are, simply put, forfeiting our capacity durability of this compact cannot be to invest in the next generation, in their isolated from the broader debates and universities have capacity to create and converse and concerns over growing inequality in experiment and innovate. Ironically, the country (which were given par- been a powerful universities are better positioned than ticular salience by the wrenching eco- most to drive the innovations that nomic losses associated with the Great force for upward will bend the health care cost curve, Recession). Simply put, in the absence at the very moment when this is lead- of a vigorous and systematic approach social mobility and ing to disinvestment. Unless and until to the challenge of income equality in a the core issue of inter-generational human capital society, the more likely forward economic equity and, more specifically, entitle- it is that universities will be saddled ment reform is addressed squarely by with the symbolic burdens associ- progress, just as government, the likelihood that either ated with the failure to live up to the the state has been the federal or state governments will Jeffersonian ideals of equal opportu- be able to resume their vanguard role nity. This is a lesson that stakeholders a powerful force in ensuring the next stage of the great in modern research universities ignore American experiment with higher edu- at their peril. in building and cation is dim indeed References Conclusion Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. shaping the modern (2010). The Rising Price of Inequality: How Inadequate Since the founding of the Republic, Grant Aid Limits College Access and Persistence. university. universities have been a powerful force Washington, DC. Alvarez, L. (2012, December 9). Florida May Reduce for upward social mobility and forward Tuition for Select Majors. The New York Times. invest in tomorrow. And yet, the gov- economic progress, just as the state Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/ education/florida-may-reduce-tuition-for-select- ernment is ill equipped to take these has been a powerful force in building majors.html. steps. There is perhaps no greater im- and shaping the modern university. Arum, R. & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago, IL: pediment to addressing the endemic For much of our history, this coopera- University of Chicago Press. problems plaguing society than the tive arrangement has been at the heart Atkinson, R.D., Ezell, S., Giddings, V., Steward, L.A., & crushing growth in entitlement spend- of the American experiment and the Andes, S.M. (2012). Leadership in Decline: Assessing U.S. International Competitiveness in Biomedical ing (particularly health care). This fis- American dream. Research. Retrieved from The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation website http://www.itif. cal burden is subverting the scope for Nevertheless, it is the thesis of this org/publications/leadership-decline-assessing-us- federal and state investment in educa- paper that several forces are conspiring international-competitiveness-biomedical-research. tion and starving the country of the in- to test the stability and durability of Baum, S., Kurose, C., & McPherson, M. (2013). An Overview of American Higher Education. The Future vestments that—at each stage in U.S. this compact, and pose significant risks of Children 23, 17-39.
80 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 Baum, S., Ma, J., & Payea, K. (2010). Education Daniels, R.J. & Trebilcock, M.J. (2005a). Towards a Oliff, P., Palacios, V., Johnson, I., & Leachman, M. Pays, 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for New Compact in University Education in Ontario. In F. (2013). Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Individuals and Society. Trends in Higher Education Iacobucci & C. Tuohy (Eds.), Taking Public Universities Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come. Series. College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. Seriously. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Blumenstyk, G., Stratford, M., & Supiano, B. (2012, Daniels, R.J. & Trebilcock, M.J. (2005b). Rethinking Thelin, J.R. (2004a) A History of American Higher February 5). Obama Aims to Make Colleges Cut the Welfare State: The Prospects for Government by Education. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Costs. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from Voucher, London, UK: Routledge. University Press. http://chronicle.com/article/Obama-Aims-to-Make- Goldin, C. & Katz, L.F. (2008). The Race Between Thelin, J.R. (2004b). Higher Education and the Colleges/130673/. Education and Technology. Cambridge, MA: The Public Trough: A Historical Perspective. In E.P. St. Bowen, H.R. (1980). The costs of higher education: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. John & M.D. Parsons (Eds.), Public Funding of How much do colleges and universities spend per Immerwahr, J., Johnson, J., Ott, A., & Rochkind, J. Higher Education. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins student and how much should they spend? San (2010). Squeeze play 2010: Continued public anxiety on University Press. ■ Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. cost, harsher judgments on how colleges are run. Public Bowen, W. G. (2012). The ‘cost disease’ in higher Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.publicagenda.org/ education: Is technology the answer?, The Tanner pages/squeeze-play-2010. Lectures, Stanford University. Kiley, K. (2013, May 6). Another Liberal Arts Carnevale, A.P., Jayasundera, T., & Cheah, B. (2012). Critic. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www. The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/30/north-carolina- Storm. Georgetown University Center on Education governor-joins-chorus-republicans-critical-liberal-arts. and the Workforce. National Research Council. (2012). Research Univer Cohen, J. (2010). The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund sities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough and Higher Education Spending in the States: Part 1 of Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security. 4. Issue Brief. New America Foundation. Washington DC: National Academies Press.
UNIVERSITY Continued from page 6
Newman’s terms, more emphasis on I have already said that I’ve been economically self-sustaining—partly learning, less on knowledge. That’s not struck by how little most of the univer- through outside funding, and partly a nightmarish outcome, but it will mean sity’s stakeholders—everybody, really, through the disciplines’ having made that the lucky minority of students who except faculty, senior administration, their internal peer valuations into the get to attend true research universities and research funders—understand and hiring and promotion standards of uni- will have a profoundly different, and embrace the research mission of the versities. Disciplines can’t pay salaries, profoundly more advantageous, educa- university. What has struck me about but universities do. tion than the majority who don’t. It was the people who do embrace research is This system is not especially ad- America’s democratizing tendency, not a fundamental difference among them vantageous for presidents, provosts, the intent of the leading planners of the in institutional orientation. Most people and deans, who must answer to addi- higher education system, that brought work for their employer. Faculty mem- tional constituencies and who are paid us a substantial number of nonelite uni- bers at research universities work for to look after entire schools and univer- versities with research aspirations. If their discipline. If you want to advance sities. A research university is often, cost pressures extinguish those aspira- in your career, your stature within your in the aggregate, a stunning collection tions, then the resulting system will be discipline is far more determinative of expertise and talent across a daz- less democratic. than your status within your university. zling range, which is not getting full Universities can be counted on to A faculty member at a research univer- advantage from its own intellectual re- advocate for themselves. They will sity will self-identify by discipline, not sources because they are situated inside always ask for more independence by university: “I’m an economist,” not departments and schools that are more and more resources. They may or may “I work for the University of Alabama.” oriented toward the same departments not try to get out ahead of events and Collectively, academic disciplines and schools at other universities than change voluntarily, calmly, in a noncri- represent an amazing achievement. toward their local colleagues in other sis atmosphere. But if they did, what They are robust, global, intensely disciplines. Because the reward system should they do? Most of the changes networked, and collaborative com- for faculty members at research univer- that are coming will be necessities, munities. They are self-governing sities so strongly privileges research imposed from without. What changes and highly productive. They are also over teaching, students are often not would be desirable, and ought to come an excellent example of how to make getting the full advantage of the faculty from within? a socially useful nonmarket activity talent that surrounds them either.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 81 If university research were more tion on research applications with the motion (especially tenure) standards, oriented toward the institution where it outside world, either locally in the uni- and enabling mechanisms for conduct- takes place, and less toward the disci- versity’s hometown, or globally. That ing and disseminating research. The pline, there would be a number of pow- would make it much easier for univer- first of these could give special weight erful benefits. It is very expensive for sity leadership to make the public case to interdisciplinary or applicable re- colleges and universities to compete for research. And making research more search, to written evaluations of intel- ferociously with each other, school by institution-oriented would also give uni- lectual quality from people in other, school and department by department, versities a way to make teaching a more related disciplines, and to advances for incremental advantages in research genuine determinant of faculty careers, in pedagogical technique. The second prestige. If, as Columbia University’s rather than a mainly notional one, and could provide funding from university- former provost, Jonathan Cole, has to explore more vigorously the peda- resident sources and create prestigious gogical potential on online education, new publishing venues for valuable including for resident students. research that the traditional discipline- The academic disciplines became resident funding and publication ven- Within each university, so strong thanks to a set of structures ues would be unlikely to support. that were designed artfully enough that Clark Kerr remarked that the old- more cooperation over time they were able to become est European research universities, es- quite powerful. These include each indi- tablished during the Middle Ages, were across disciplines vidual disciplinary association, with its among the least changed institutions in could generate new all-important annual convention where all of human experience. He meant that careers can be meaningfully advanced; as praise, mostly; in the current moment intellectual ferment the key academic journals within each of reverence for innovation, people discipline; the university presses; the lo- would hear it as a rebuke. In any event, that could produce gistical substructure that makes it easy it is inescapable that universities’ pecu- both research break for professors to move around from in- liar survivability and their slow-moving stitution to institution, such as the retire- quality are inextricably linked. They ig- throughs and a richer, ment-account system, uniform student nore almost no important development admissions tests, and systemic means of in society, but they assimilate no single more interconnected handling library resources (all of these development instantly and totally. So were creations of the Carnegie educa- predictions that some aspect of higher curriculum. tional philanthropies); and the practice education is about to change systemi- of making tenure decisions substantially cally in a dramatic, utterly landscape- been suggesting lately, individual uni- on the basis of evaluations of published altering fashion should be treated with versities were able to specialize more work by within-discipline colleagues at skepticism. (The rhetoric linking the by forming alliances that would con- other universities. For all the talk about advent of massive open online courses centrate expertise in one location rather higher education not getting the Internet, to academic institutional apocalypse is than trying to replicate it everywhere, the advent of the online world has tre- already cooling off, for example.) What that could be a way to control costs. As mendously strengthened disciplinary I am proposing here is meant as an in- specialties were parceled out, online life by making the global peer-to-peer cremental change of the kind that is al- education would make it possible for communication that has always been ways taking place in higher education. students in one university in the alli- one of its key features so much easier. I don’t want to say, ominously, that if it ance to take locally unavailable courses To orient academic research more— doesn’t happen, there will be dire con- from another university in the alliance. not completely, but more—toward the sequences. But I do believe that inte- Within each university, more coop- needs of the home institution would grating the research life of universities eration across disciplines could generate require not just exhortation, but the more fully into the way society under- new intellectual ferment that could pro- building of a similar set of structures stands and experiences these wondrous duce both research breakthroughs and a that alter the incentives for individual institutions would be the best way of richer, more interconnected curriculum. faculty members. These would fall into maximizing their benefit, and of secur- It could also lead to more collabora- two broad categories: hiring and pro- ing their future. ■
82 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 American Higher Education: An Obligation to the Future Vartan Gregorian—continued from inside front cover of this. In fact, it is interesting to note there is yet another not equal knowledge. The ability to carry around the entire choice that various pundits have recently suggested students corpus of Greek literature on an iPhone or some similar de- should consider—not going to college at all. The rationale vice may be astonishing, but that does not mean that the indi- behind that notion is that while the knowledge gained in col- vidual who possesses such a device actually knows anything lege and university classrooms may be both wonderful and about Greek literature. One still has to read. One still has enlightening, it is not necessarily useful in “real life.” That to listen and see with one’s own eyes. One still has to pon- seems an empty argument to me and one that is refuted, for der ideas, explore the realms of both material and spiritual instance, by a quick glance at a recent list of the Forbes 400 knowledge, and discuss these matters with other people. richest people in America, which shows that 84 percent hold In that connection, I would argue that the deep-seated postsecondary degrees. Similarly, of the Fortune 500 CEOs, yearning for knowledge and understanding endemic to 93 percent have a college degree—many in the humanities human beings is an ideal that a liberal arts education is sin- and social sciences. gularly suited to fulfill. Albert Einstein, in his inimitable The success of these individuals and others underscores fashion, went right to the heart of the matter, asserting that a point I have often made to students: that one of the immea- the practical men and women among us try to explain all surable values of a liberal arts education is how it can open phenomena by cause and effect. But, Einstein said, “This up a world of possibilities, including life and career paths to way of looking at things always answers only the question follow that might otherwise have seemed unimaginable to a ‘Why?’ but never the question, ‘To what end?’”4 To search young man or woman just starting out. But that is a wonderful for even a glimpse of the answers to such great philosophical challenge for someone who is motivated to explore their own conundrums one needs to know not only what is taught in a potential: after all, if the only purpose of education is to train classroom, but also how to think for oneself. an individual for a specific job or skill, life would be much Of course, one also has to know history, particularly the simpler—and, I might add, perhaps much less interesting. history of one’s own nation. In that regard, as Americans, we have an obligation, as citizens to whom the future of our country has been entrusted, to understand the obstacles we It is still useful to remind have faced in the past and both the problems and opportu- ourselves that the greatest service nities that lie ahead. As Benjamin Franklin said, issuing a still-timely challenge in response to a query at the close of technology can provide us the Constitutional Convention of 1787, what the Founding Fathers had created was “A Republic, if you can keep it.” is as an adjunct to knowledge, Keep it we must, and we will, but to do so we need an informed and educated citizenry who can take full advan- not as a replacement for it. tage of the almost 4,200 colleges and universities in our country, including some 1,700 public and private two-year With all that said, it remains clear that increasing our ex- institutions. And let me point out that computers and Web pertise in technology and related fields is critical to the prog- sites have yet to put those colleges and universities out of ress of our society. Nevertheless, it is still useful to remind business. Why is this? Because of one simple reason: we are ourselves that the greatest service technology can provide us not a virtual society yet. Not yet. Human beings, by their is as an adjunct to knowledge, not as a replacement for it. very nature, are rational, spiritual, and social beings. They Technology by itself is not a creator of content. Though the are not abstractions. They are not socioeconomic, consumer Internet and all the technological devices that now connect or entertainment units destined to be confined inside the us to it have made it possible for much of humanity to have small world of their cubicles and subject to what I call “cu- access to a virtual Library of Alexandria, access alone does bicle alienation.” Even though people can watch almost any
4 The Born-Einstein Letters 1916-1955 (MacMillan Press Ltd. 1971; 2005).
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 83 movie they want on-demand from their cable service or on ticular emphasis is on the growing number of students who DVDs, men and women still go to movie houses to share the are not following the path directly from high school gradu- experience of being immersed in a story told through sound ation to the college campus. As he points out, “The ‘tradi- and images in the company of other human beings. People tional’ college student aged 18 to 22 is no longer the norm. have Bibles, Talmuds, and Korans in their homes but they Many people still think that the typical college student is an still go to churches, synagogues, and mosques to share their 18- to 22-year-old who’s attending a four-year residential common bonds and traditions. People need to be part of a institution. But according to some estimates, nontraditional community—and for many, the college classroom provides students—returning adults, part-time students, midcareer an invaluable experience of community and collaboration. professionals, and every other permutation of learner—now The diversity of talents, interests and aims of the men make up 85 percent of all undergraduates.” and women who look to higher education to help them reach I believe that startling statistic helps to provide an an- their goals is mirrored by the diversity of our colleges and swer to the question with which I began this essay: is there universities, from which our system of higher education a value to the kind of education that promotes the ability to draws great strength. Individual institutions have tradition- become a lifelong learner? Clearly, the answer is a resound- ally emphasized different local, regional, national and in- ing yes, if education is going to be a resource available to ternational needs by providing educational opportunities all Americans that can parallel their path through life, if that to diverse populations, expanding scientific and technical is what they need. Noted author and Columbia University knowledge, providing opportunities for continuing educa- tion, and other means. But that certainly wasn’t always the case. Higher edu- The diversity of talents, interests cation was actually available to only a small proportion of America’s population until Congress enacted the Land Grant and aims of the men and women College Act in 1862. This legislation—the first Morrill who look to higher education Act—which was, astonishingly passed in the middle of the Civil War (making it clear how strongly both President to help them reach their goals Lincoln and Congress felt about the importance of educa- tion, as well as about the future of the nation) in effect, put is mirrored by the diversity universities where the people were. The Act not only pro- of our colleges and universities. vided much greater access to higher education, it also pro- moted specialized training and spurred the development of both theoretical knowledge and its practical application. professor Andrew Delblanco addresses similar concerns in The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and the Morrill his recent book, College: What It Was, Is, And Should Be 6, Act helped to provide the research and the educated work- suggesting that higher education should offer more to stu- force that were desperately needed in agriculture, mining dents than a rigid curriculum and a lock-step parade towards and manufacturing. a degree. As he suggests, though more and more students are Today, there are new challenges, and one of the great- going to college with “the narrow aim of obtaining a prepro- est facing higher education is how to protect the diversity fessional credential” (a phenomenon he attributes to the ac- of our colleges and universities at a time when it seems that celerating commercialization of American higher education), instead of emphasizing variety and competition—which guiding young men and women down this path is a mistake. affects all aspects of higher education, from recruiting stu- In fact, he argues, it means that they are losing the chance dents to developing curricula—there is a worrisome trend to experience the traditional—and wonderful—attributes of towards uniformity. Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern the undergraduate years, “an exploratory time for students University, expressed similar ideas in a recent op-ed5 in to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the which he discusses how higher education must begin to re- help of teachers and peers…” He also worries that this kind spond to an increasingly diverse student body, with different of multi-faceted, aspirational education is in danger of be- needs, different goals, and different expectations. His par- coming available only to the wealthy and privileged, which
5 “To Meet President Obama’s Job Goals, Involve All Colleges,” Bloomberg Business Week, January 29th, 2014. 6 College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton University Press, 2012).
84 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 would pose a great danger to the progress of American soci- doors to a future of one’s own making is the proverbial ety. While science, technology, engineering, and math play pearl beyond price that we must all cherish. That is one of an increasingly prominent role in our globalized economy, the reasons I am so gratified that some of our nation’s most innovation still requires original and imaginative thinking. eminent university leaders, along with prominent scientists, The new discoveries that will improve the living conditions, engineers, and others are sharing their thoughts and ideas health, and welfare of men, women, and children around the about higher education in this special edition of the Carnegie world will not be found without those who have the educa- Reporter. I am pleased to be able to contribute to their work tion to work toward those discoveries. And if we do not nur- by including an address I gave to the President’s Council of ture the talent among us, who will provide literature and art the University of Tokyo (below), of which I am a member. and music for ages yet to come? In many ways—and I can attest to this from personal These are some of the purposes for which we, as a soci- experience—education is the bridge that allows us to travel ety, created, supported, and continue to value a liberal arts- from where we are to that further place where we can be- oriented college education. As W.E.B. DuBois said, “The come who we want to be and do all the wonderful things we true college will ever have one goal—not to earn meat, but might otherwise only dream of. Whatever we can do as edu- to know the end and aim of that life which meat nourishes.”7 cators and citizens to strengthen that bridge is an obligation For myself, I believe that the immeasurable value of to the future that we all share. American higher education and the potential it has to open R Presentation by Vartan Gregorian to The Seventh President’s Council of the University of Tokyo JUNE 8, 2010
Let me begin by noting that the American university is tunities to diverse populations by expanding scientific and incomparably the most democratic in the world. It’s popular technical knowledge, and providing opportunities for con- in the best sense of the term, admitting and educating unprec- tinuing education, and also opening their doors to the world. edented numbers of men and women of every race and so- Until several years ago, two-thirds of all students from cioeconomic background. Students from every corner of the foreign countries studying abroad were in the United States; world—and here I speak for myself as well—have found a two-thirds of the entire international student body that went place in the nation’s incredible variety of colleges and univer- abroad studied in the United States. sities, public or private, large or small, secular or sectarian, In the last century, enrollment in American higher edu- urban or rural, residential or commuter. Today there are more cation grew from 4 percent of the college-age population than 3,600 colleges and universities in the United States, in- in 1900 to almost 70 percent by the year 2000. Our student cluding some 1,400 public and private two-year institutions. body, moreover, is incredibly diverse. Following a long pe- U.S. colleges and universities enroll more than 19 mil- riod of little or no growth in total enrollment, the nation’s lion students and annually grant nearly 3 million degrees. institutions of higher education are now seeing the biggest Higher education employs more than 3.6 million people, in- growth spurt since the baby boom generation arrived on cluding 2.6 million faculty, in what amounts to a more than campus in 1960. $380 billion business. Between 1995 and 2015, enrollments are expected to The diversity of our education system gives it strength, increase 16 percent, and one-third of the increase will be great strength. Individual institutions have traditionally em- members of minority groups. By 2015, minority enrollment phasized different functions that have complemented each is anticipated to rise by almost 30 percent to 2 million in other by addressing different local, regional, national, and absolute numbers, representing almost 38 percent of under- international needs. They also provide educational oppor- graduate education.
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 85 Clearly there is a strong case to be made for the fact provide adequate funds for basic research, which pioneers that American higher education is a vital and successful en- the frontiers of human knowledge for the benefit of society. deavor. But let me take a few moments here to review its He also wrote that the nation’s universities were, by their history and highlight several aspects of higher education in very nature, best suited to take the lead in conducting basic the United States in order to understand the underpinnings research. Public funding, he said, would promote competi- of its success. tion among researchers and projects could be selected on the The first major opportunity for the expansion of American merits through a peer review process. Bush suggested a fed- higher education came in 1862. Even in the middle of the eral agency should oversee the program, and Congress cre- Civil War, and despite the fact that 500,000 people died in ated the National Science Foundation to do the job in 1950. the greatest tragedy of American history, President Abraham The agency got off to a slow start, but after October Lincoln enacted the Morrill Act, which established land- 1957, when Sputnik was launched, support for science, sci- grant universities throughout the United States. The Morrill ence education, and basic research rose rapidly. From 1960 Act coincided with the Industrial Revolution, and it helped to 1966, federal spending on research not associated with de- to establish universities just about everywhere the people of fense leapt from $6 billion a year to almost $35- $40 billion. the United States were, and where they needed institutions Until recent years, federal investment in research rarely fell of higher education that addressed their particular needs. below $20 billion a year, and much of this money went to Some of our current universities grew from these roots such universities. Giving the universities—that’s the difference— as the University of California, Irvine, which deals with ag- giving the universities the lead in basic research turned out riculture; in Wisconsin, the state university includes a focus to be a brilliant policy. Instead of being centralized in gov- on the fact that the dairy industry is important; in Minnesota, ernment laboratories as science tended to be in other parts the mining industry, and on and on. Because of the needs of of the world, scientific research became decentralized in the state, the resources of states were tapped at the time and American universities. This policy spurred a tremendous folded into the educational curriculum. diversity of investment. It also gave graduate students sig- The second most important revolution that happened, in nificant research opportunities and helped spread scientific addition to land-grant universities—which, by the way, have discoveries far and wide for the benefit of industry, medi- produced, since their inception, some 20 million degrees— cine, and society as a whole. was the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences. Another revolutionary phase in American higher edu- Again, it is remarkable to note that Lincoln had such faith in cation came about in 1944 and was known as the GI Bill the strength and continuity of the U.S. that in 1863, while the of Rights. This legislation ranks up there in importance Civil War raged on, President Lincoln signed another piece with the Morrill Act because the law, enacted at the height of landmark legislation—a law that created the National of World War II, opened the doors of America’s best col- Academy of Sciences. The Academy, which was established leges and universities to tens of thousands of veterans re- to advise Congress on “any subject of science or art,” has turning from the battlefields, ordinary Americans who had done that job well and expanded to include the National never dreamt of going to college, and who were now actu- Research Council, the National Academy of Engineering, ally being encouraged to do so by their government. The and the Institute of Medicine. G.I. Bill made an already democratic system of higher edu- It was not until World War II, though, that the federal cation even more democratic in ways that were simply in- government began supporting university research in a sig- conceivable in Europe and other parts of the world. In the nificant way. Prior to that, research was done in Europe and following decades, the GI Bill—and its legislative offspring in corporate laboratories. To strengthen U.S. growth in sci- enacted during the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and now ence, President Franklin Roosevelt established a commis- Iraq and Afghanistan—have resulted in the public invest- sion headed by Vannevar Bush, a former professor at the ment of more than $60 billion in education and training for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His landmark report about 18 million veterans, including 8.5 million in higher was published in 1945 and adopted by President Truman. In education. Currently, the United States offers an education this piece, a beautiful report entitled Science: The Endless benefit as an incentive for people to join its all-voluntary Frontier, Bush noted that the business of industry naturally military forces. took the lead in applied research but was deterred by market- Shortly after World War II, in 1946, Congress also cre- place considerations from conducting pure research. Bush ated the prestigious Fulbright scholarships, which all of you argued that it was the federal government’s responsibility to are familiar with, and which have been enormously success-
86 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 ful. All in all, there have been some 235,000 American and among universities. Many of Clark Kerr’s friends stopped foreign Fulbright scholars—146,000 alone from countries talking to him after that recommendation, including his other than the U.S. The program was created, by the way, as president. Thus, we can see that land-grant universities, the one of the best ways of investing in international education. National Academy of Sciences, the GI Bill, Pell grants, and In 1947, the democratization of higher education was a host of other innovative strategies for advancing American advanced when the President’s Commission on Higher higher education and increasing access to colleges and uni- Education recommended that public education be made versities played a major role in enriching and expanding available up to the 14th grade, thus opening the door to the American education at the college and university level. development of community colleges, or two-year colleges, Naturally, the civil rights movement in the United States which are now playing a major role in American higher and the end of formal, legal discrimination also contributed to advancing higher education and educational access. In this connection, I should mention that my late friend, the noted The noted sociologist sociologist David Riesman, said that the greatest contribu- tion to the American economy in the post-war period was David Riesman said that the liberation of women. He was right, because today, al- the greatest contribution most 54-58 percent of students enrolled in American higher education are women and that, along with the advancement to the American economy of minorities—especially Asians and African Americans—is truly revolutionary. in the post-war period Now, let me turn to the problems facing American higher was the liberation of women. education. There are many things I can talk about. Problem number one is that when there was no competition, America could afford duplication in its higher education. The nation education, but also point to some of the problems I will could afford to have thousands of colleges and universities discuss later. because they provided educated leaders and skilled labor, In a more recent effort to promote international coop- but at the same time, unskilled workers—those who could eration and security, Congress enacted the National Security not afford higher education or even dropped out of school, Act of 1991, which provides scholarships for undergraduates could still find jobs in manufacturing and so on, but today, and graduate students to study many of the less well-known that’s not the case. So duplication in education is no longer languages and cultures in key regions of the world, including affordable, and quality has become very important and a key East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, not to mention to competition among educational institutions. Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Africa. Perhaps the second most important problem is the state Another major landmark was the creation of federal loan of public universities which, as I indicated earlier, were cre- grant guarantees and subsidy programs as well as outright ated to be funded by public sources. Private institutions had grants for college students. In the decades since its founding to rely on private sources, on philanthropy. And parentheti- in 1965, the Federal Family Education Loan Program has cally, ladies and gentlemen, as you know, philanthropy is a funded more than 74 million student loans worth more than big deal in the United States. Annually some $350 billion $180 billion. And in the years since the 1973 Pell Grant pro- dollars in philanthropic giving is disbursed by Americans, gram—named after Senator Claiborne Pell— was created, and not only the rich; 70 percent of those sums come from more than $100 billion in grants have been awarded to an families with incomes of less than $100,000 dollars a year. estimated 30 million postsecondary students. Giving has become an American phenomenon. Even dur- Last but not least, let me add something important about ing presidential campaigns and debates, candidates now Pell grants: when they were proposed, there was a big de- have to reveal the amounts of their philanthropic giv- bate about whether to give the money to university presi- ing because otherwise they will be known as being stingy, dents or to give it directly to students so the funds would be being cheapskates. portable. It was decided—in fact, Clark Kerr of University But now, the barriers between public and private fund- of California who led the Carnegie Commission on Higher ing of universities have all but disappeared. Both private Education recommended—that the money be designated as and public universities seek support from private sources as portable by students because this would create competition well as from the public, with one major difference: when I
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 87 came as a freshman to Stanford University in 1956, tuition the fact that now, there is a new, major enterprise competing and fees were $750 dollars at Stanford, $50 dollars at the for students: proprietary, primarily for-profit organizations University of California, Berkeley—yes, 50, five-oh. Now, along with online institutions such as Phoenix University all the costs have gone astronomically high. Colleges and and others, which have access to federal loans. These entities universities have to keep up with inflation and support the are expanding their reach exponentially. Currently, the U.S. costs of laboratories; technology; of stocking their librar- Congress is investigating why a disproportionate amount of ies; building and maintaining dormitories and other facili- Pell grants are going to proprietary and online schools. Some ties; paying for athletics; paying for health and other types argue that Pell grants should not go to these institutions at of insurance; providing health, food, counseling and other all but those who want specific kinds of job training, such services; legal and government affairs departments, public as beauticians and various kinds of technicians and so forth affairs departments, etc. In short, universities, nowadays, are argue that they should have access to the same kind of fund- like city states. But what has changed over the years is that ing sources as other students. individual states can no longer afford by themselves to pay So these are some of the problems. But there is still an- for public higher education. For example, I’m told that today, other that is among the most important of all, and that is the only 8 or 9 percent of the funding needed for the University following: we all agree that what makes universities great is of Michigan comes from the state of Michigan; in Missouri, the quality of their faculties. I have always believed that the it’s 9-10 percent; Maryland, 9-10 percent; etc. The rest has to faculty is the bone marrow of the university. Students come come from tuition, fees, federal research grants, federal loans and go, administrators come and go—even visionary lead- and grants as well as philanthropy, which was not how the ers, though they be few and far between, come and go—but system of supporting public higher education was supposed a university’s faculty provides continuity. In that connec- to work. tion, the challenge is that many universities cannot afford to In addition, when Pell grants were inaugurated, there maintain or recruit high-quality faculty nor can they have the were two components: loans and outright grants. As time same number of top-level faculty that they did in the past. As has passed, the proportion of loans and grants has changed a result, they resort to replenishing their ranks with adjunct so that today, more loans are given than grants. Hence, stu- and part-time faculty. Part-time faculty size has increased dents often have to borrow money to pay back the loans, and if they are unable to pay their debts or go into bankruptcy as a result of their debt burden, this will adversely affect One of the greatest challenges their future, including their ability to find jobs and advance facing our society is how in their careers. If, on the other hand, they take jobs with low pay and because of their low salaries remain unable to to distinguish between information, pay their loans, it discourages some people from embarking on careers where the financial rewards are not great but the which may be true, false or some mission is important to society and the nation. As a former teacher myself, I have first-hand experience of that type of tangled combination of both, situation. If you become a teacher with a $30,000-a-year sal- and real knowledge. ary and you have to pay six-to-ten thousand a year for your college debt, especially if you get a higher degree, that’s a very serious challenge. from 22 to almost 40 percent in many universities, making Yet another problem that we face is universities of un- the overall quality of their faculty questionable. I’m not re- even quality because we don’t have a national accrediting ferring to the Harvards, Princetons, Yales and others of that system. We have a regional accrediting system. In the ab- rank; I’m talking about those small colleges and public uni- sence of a steady flow of public and private funds, many versities that cannot afford to maintain an excellent faculty higher education institutions rely on increased levels of en- roster and so must rely on part-timers in order to preserve rollment as a way of meeting their budgets. This, naturally, themselves during difficult financial times. Remember, affects quality. In addition, universities, by necessity, incur when you have part-time faculty, you save money because financial aid obligations, which they sometimes cannot fully you don’t have to give them offices, or provide benefits or meet because the more students they enroll, the more finan- sabbaticals or other types of resources. It’s almost like piece- cial aid they have to provide. This situation is worsened by work is being introduced into higher education.
88 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 In addition, naturally, during times of financial crisis time, [Seigenthaler] was thought to have been directly in- such as we find ourselves in now, another challenge that volved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his arises is that there is a growing impulse to do what is expedi- brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.” ent, such as reducing the number of academic units required This horrendous misinformation—represented as truth— to graduate. Hence, I am not surprised that once again there existed on Wikipedia for 132 days before Seigenthaler’s son, are also voices raised, asking why can’t the time required for also a journalist, happened upon it and called his father. BA and other degrees be reduced to three years? After all, Seigenthaler, Sr. then had Wikipedia remove the hoax biog- some say, Oxford started with four years and then reduced it raphy, but not before the same false facts had migrated to to three. Harvard copied the four-year system and it has been many other sites. Probably, somewhere in the estimated 30 with us since the beginning of the higher education system in billion online pages, it still exists. Wikipedia has taken steps the U.S., but why does it have to remain that way? Let’s re- to address this problem, but estimates are that there may be duce it. Quality, depth and richness of education don’t seem somewhere around two million distinct sites on the Internet, to factor into these suggestions. with more being created all the time, and there is no central This brings me to what may be the core crisis facing authority, no group, individual or organization to oversee the higher education today, and that is the onslaught of infor- accuracy of the information they purvey. mation that now accosts almost every human being in our Clearly, therefore, one of the greatest challenges facing borderless, always tuned in, always connected and inter- our society and contemporary civilization is how to distin- connected globalized world. Perhaps nowhere is this flood guish between information—which may be true, false, or of information more apparent than in the university—par- some tangled combination of both—and real knowledge. ticularly in the United States. Never mind that much of the And further, how to transform knowledge into the indispens- information is irrelevant to us and unusable. No matter, it able nourishment of the human mind: genuine wisdom. As T. still just keeps arriving in the form of books, monographs, S. Eliot said, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowl- periodicals, web sites, instant messages, social networking edge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” sites, films, DVDs, blogs, podcasts, e-mails, satellite and Today’s universities—along with our colleges, libraries, cable television shows and news programs, and the constant learned societies and our scholars—have a great responsi- chirping of our Blackberries and smart phones—which, by bility to help provide an answer to Eliot’s questions. More the way, I hope you have turned off, if just for now! than ever, these institutions and individuals have a funda- While it is true that attention to detail is the hallmark of mental historical and social role to play in ensuring that as a professional excellence, it is equally true that an overload society, we provide not just training but education, and not of undigested facts is a sure recipe for mental gridlock. Not just education but culture as well. And that we teach students only do undigested facts not constitute structured knowledge how to distill the bottomless cornucopia of information that but, unfortunately, the current explosion of information is is ceaselessly spilled out before them twenty-four hours a also accompanied by its corollary pitfalls, such as obsoles- day, seven days a week, into knowledge that is relevant, use- cence and counterfeit knowledge. ful, and reliable and that will enrich both their personal and And, if you will indulge me for sacrificing the English professional lives. language for a moment, another phenomenon we are con- This is not an easy task, especially in a nation where, as fronting is the “Wikipedia-zation” of knowledge and educa- Susan Jacoby writes in her recent book, The Age of American tion. At least in part, this is a result of the fact that we are Unreason, “the scales of American history have shifted all both givers and takers when it comes to running the ma- heavily against the vibrant and varied intellectual life so chinery of the Information Age, particularly the virtual ma- essential to functional democracy. During the past four de- chinery. I am talking, of course, about the Internet. Let me cades, America’s endemic anti-intellectual tendencies have tell you about a notorious event involving Wikipedia that has been grievously exacerbated by a new species of semicon- come to represent how easily false information can virally scious anti-rationalism, feeding on and fed by an ignorant infect factual knowledge. What has come to be known as popular culture of video images and unremitting noise that the Seigenthaler Incident began in 2005 when a false biogra- leaves no room for contemplation or logic. This new form phy of the noted journalist Robert Seigenthaler, Sr., who was of anti-rationalism, at odds not only with the nation’s heri- also an assistant to Robert Kennedy when he was Attorney tage of eighteenth-century Enlightenment reason but with General in the 1960s, was posted on Wikipedia. Among the modern scientific knowledge, has propelled a surge of anti- scurrilous “facts” in the biography were that “For a short intellectualism capable of inflicting vastly greater damage
Winter 2014 — c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r 89 than its historical predecessors inflicted on American culture In that regard, I would add that this fragmentation of and politics.” knowledge into more and more rigid, isolated areas is con- What Jacoby so forcefully points out is that ignorance tributing to a kind of lopsidedness in the way education is is absolutely not bliss when both the strength of our democ- organized and a growing disconnect between value-centered racy and the future of our society is at stake. And it may education and the kind of training that is aimed specifically well be, for not only are we distracted and overwhelmed by at career preparation. What is hopeful is that there is a grow- the explosion of images, news, rumor, gossip, data, informa- ing realization among the leaders of the nation’s higher edu- tion and knowledge that bombard us every day, we also face cation sector that this lopsided system of education is both dangerous levels of fragmentation of knowledge, dictated by deficient and dangerous, that we need a proper balance be- the advances of science, learning, and the accumulation of tween preparation for careers and the cultivation of values, several millennia of scholarship. Writing about the fragmen- that general and liberal education is the thread that ought to tation of knowledge and the advent of specialization, it was weave a pattern of meaning into the total learning experi- not so long ago that Max Weber criticized the desiccated nar- ence, that unless such a balance is restored, career training rowness and the absence of spirit of the modern specialist. will be ephemeral in applicability and delusive in worth; It was also this phenomenon that prompted Dostoevsky to and value education will be casual, shifting and relativistic. I lament in The Brothers Karamazov about the scholars who strongly believe that one of the great strengths of American “…have only analyzed the parts and overlooked the whole higher education is that it is home for liberal arts education, and, indeed, their blindness is marvelous!” In the same vein, which is a sound foundation for all the professions and pro- José Ortega y Gasset, in his Revolt of the Masses, as early as fessional schools. the 1930s, decried the “barbarism of specialization.” Today, In the words of Albert Einstein, “It is essential that the he wrote, we have more scientists, scholars and professional student acquire an understanding of a lively feeling for val- men and women than ever before, but fewer cultivated ones. ues. He or she must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and To put the dilemma in 21st century terms, I might describe the morally good. Otherwise he or she—with his or her spe- this as everybody doing their own thing, but nobody really cialized knowledge—more closely resembles a well-trained understanding what anybody else’s thing really is. dog than a harmoniously developed person.” That is why Unfortunately, the university, which was conceived of as I believe, and every year, whether I was a Dean, President embodying the unity of knowledge, has become an intellec- or Provost of a University, I always reminded incoming tual multiversity. The process of both growth and fragmenta- freshmen to remember the famous line in Sheridan’s Critic tion of knowledge underway since the seventeenth century (1799), that the number of those who undergo the fatigue has accelerated in our time and only continues to intensify. The modern university consists of a tangle of specialties and sub-specialties, disciplines and sub-disciplines, within which Ignorance is absolutely not bliss specialization continues apace. The unity of knowledge has when both the strength collapsed. The scope and the intensity of specialization are such that scholars and scientists have great difficulty in of our democracy and the keeping up with the important yet overwhelming amount of scholarly literature of their own sub-specialties, not to men- future of our society is at stake. tion their general disciplines. Even the traditional historical humanistic disciplines have become less and less viable as of judging for themselves is precious few. It is the task of communities of discourse. As the late professor Wayne C. higher education to increase the number of those who do un- Booth put it wistfully in a Ryerson lecture he gave more dergo that fatigue. than twenty years ago that still, sadly, sounds like breaking To sum up, it seems to me that by trying to reduce the news from the education front: Centuries have passed since requirements for a degree and at the same time, expecting the fateful moment...when the last of the Leonardo da Vincis to be able to break down education into specialized parts— could hope to cover the cognitive map. [Now], everyone each part swollen to overflowing with endlessly and expo- has been reduced to knowing only one or two countries on nentially increasing amounts of data and information—we the intellectual globe…[In our universities] we continue to are going in absolutely the wrong direction. Why? Because discover just what a pitifully small corner of the cognitive all this pushing and pulling and compartmentalizing pre- world we live in. supposes that somehow, one’s education will eventually be
90 c a r n e g i e r e p o r t e r — Winter 2014 finished, that it will come to an end where an individual the principles by which these objects were made to fly? After can say, now I’ve graduated and I don’t have to learn all, your society awarded PhDs and MDs and all kinds of anymore. But of course, you never graduate from your other degrees to people like yourself, so can you just prepare life and hence, you never really graduate from learning. a schematic for us about these flying things? And we also One’s “formal” education is really just an introduction heard that you had some kind of ships that could travel under to learning where the skills to go on educating oneself water, but how was that possible? We also heard that you are acquired and inculcated into everyday life—because were able to phone each other, and despite mountains and learning is a lifelong endeavor. In that connection, when I oceans and so forth, you could talk to each other across thou- was president of Brown, one day I decided, as a joke or as sands of miles; how did that work? And, oh yes, we’d also an ironic act, to propose awarding two kinds of degrees, like to have the maps of all the continents, so can you draw one certifying that you know the following subjects, the them for us? Please include all the nations along with rivers, counties, capitals, and so forth. After all, we understand that you are an educated person, so these things should be easy One of the greatest strengths for you. of American higher education Then I said to the gathering—still speaking on behalf of the head Martian—there’s another subject we Martians want is that it is home for to know about. We have a long list of the names of the reli- gions that people on Earth followed, and they were well-rep- liberal arts education, resented in the United States. We don’t quite understand the differences between these religions and why you argued about which is a sound foundation them century after century. Here is just part of the list we have: for all the professions and Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, the Baha’i faith, and then the different forms professional schools. of Christianity: Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Southern Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Amish, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, other one certifying the subjects that you know, but most Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox. thought it was a crazy idea because parents would say, we Could you please pick five of these and tell us where they paid you to educate our sons and daughters and instead, agree and where they disagree? Of course, there was dead si- you’re giving us an uneducated person. So I decided that lence in the audience. So I concluded my “exam” by saying, we’d just say the BA degree was, as I’ve described above, I thank you for not being the last man or woman on Earth, an introduction to learning, an undertaking that must be because education is a life-long experience and endeavor, and carried on throughout all the years of one’s life. I believe you might have some catching up to do…! In order to further make my point about lifelong learn- In a way, perhaps we all have constant “catching up” to ing, let me share this one last story with you. Some years do when it comes to finding ways to address the many chal- ago, when asked to give a major speech to an illustrious lenges facing our colleges and universities. But we will find gathering at Southern Methodist University, instead of a them, I am sure, because in the words of Henry Rosovsky 8, speech, I gave an exam. I said, imagine that you are the the economist and educator, in higher education, “‘made in last person on earth. Nothing is left, no monuments, no America’ is still the finest label.” We all should have a hand other human beings, no libraries, no archives and hence, in ensuring that continues to be true. ■ you are the best-educated person on the planet. Suddenly, the Martians land and they want to debrief you, the last human being standing, so they can preserve the history of humanity and the civilizations of the planet Earth. They begin by asking you questions such as: We heard that you had some objects that could fly, but that’s such an anti- quated mode of transportation, so can you explain to us
8 See page 59 of this magazine for Henry Rosovsky’s article, “Research Universities: American Exceptionalism?”
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Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States. Subsequently, its charter was amended to per- mit the use of funds for the same purposes in certain countries that are or have been members of the British overseas Commonwealth. The goal of the Carnegie The winners of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy 2013, seated in the Debating Chamber of the Reporter is to be a hub of ideas and a forum for dia- logue about the work of foundations. Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Pictured here, from left to right starting in the back row, are Dame Janet Wolfson de Botton, on behalf of the Wolfson family; Dr. James H. Simons; Dr. Dmitry Borisovich Zimin; Board of Trustees Sir Tom Hunter; Dr. Marilyn H. Simons. Not pictured: Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. Thomas H. Kean, Chair Kurt Schmoke, Vice Chair OR IMAGE © SCOTTISH THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT COURTESY ANDREW COWAN, BY PHOTO THE OPEN SCOTTISH – 2013. LICENSED UNDER BODY CORPORATE PARLIAMENTARY LICENCE V1.0. PARLIAMENT Vartan Gregorian, Ex officio Richard Beattie Stephen A. Oxman ix leading philanthropists received the and the arts. The 2013 Medal recipients are: Her Geoffrey T. Boisi Don M. Randel SCarnegie Medal of Philanthropy during a Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson Ralph Cicerone Louise Richardson Jared Cohon Jorge Sampaio ceremony at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, John J. DeGioia Ann Claire Williams on October 17, 2013. The event also marked and Community Development; Sir Tom Hunter, Edward P. Djerejian James D. Wolfensohn the centennial of the Carnegie UK Trust, a the British entrepreneur; Dr. James Harris John S. Hendricks Judy Woodruff Susan Hockfield foundation established by Andrew Carnegie to Simons—honored along with his wife, economist Helene L. Kaplan, Honorary Trustee improve the wellbeing of the people of the United Dr. Marilyn Simons—American mathematician Newton N. Minow, Honorary Trustee Kingdom and Ireland. The most celebrated award who established a leading hedge fund; Dr. Janet Robinson, Honorary Trustee in global philanthropy, the Medal is awarded Dmitry Zimin, founder of one of Russia’s biannually on behalf of the international family foremost telecom companies; and Dame Janet of Carnegie institutions. It recognizes those who Wolfson de Botton DBE on behalf of the Wolfson follow in the footsteps of Andrew Carnegie, and family, founders of the Wolfson Foundation. whose sustained records of giving back embody The medalists were selected by a committee his belief that with great wealth comes great of representatives from six major Carnegie responsibility. institutions. Committee chair Vartan Gregorian, The philanthropic activities of this year’s president of Carnegie Corporation, praised the Carnegie medalists span the globe and include accomplishments of this year’s honorees as “a © 2014 Carnegie Corporation of New York. support for education, science, entrepreneurship, great tribute to humanity and its potential.”