Change in Universities: Fifteen Years of Great Books and Little has Changed. Why?
Large numbers of great people have been talking about the need for change in research universities. That change conversation was launched in the early 1990’s in response to declining state funding. In 1991 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published Scholarship Reconsidered. The Pew Educational Roundtable launched a series in 1993 with “Seeing Straight Through the Muddle”. Since then, scores of excellent books and hundred of papers have been published by highly experienced and accomplished people; each provides context, describes the problems, and proposes solutions.
Today, most agree that little has changed. Why not? Beginning with most recent, following is a list of the books which I find most exciting. I am identifying three to five concepts developed in each book which seem to me to distinguish them.
But, the real question is: why haven’t universities changed?
I am in the process of delineating, for each book: (a) the “problems” identified and (b) the solutions proposed.
1. The True Genius of America at Risk: Are We Losing Our Public Universities to De Facto Privatization? (Katharine C. Lyall and Kathleen R. Sell) 2. Remaking the American University (Zemsky, Wegner, and Massey, 2005)
Universities as places of public purpose
“in the face of budget cuts, university presidents hunker down and do across the board cuts, postponing the inevitable”
Publish or perish has created commercial presses, irrelevant research, and high costs.
The turning point will come when universities pay attention to quality in teaching and learning. and play a major role in K-12, and in access to the economically disadvantaged.
3. Declining by Degrees (Hersh and Merrow, 2005)
An insidious erosion in quality that we now believe places the “Nation at Risk”
Universities are wallowing in mediocrity
The general education curriculum fails to educate students.
4. Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education (Bowen, Kurzweil, Tobin, 2005)
5. Higher Education and the Public Good (Kezar, Chambers, Burkhardt, 2005)
6. The Future of Higher Education: Rhetoric, Reality, and the Risks of the Market (Newman, Couturier, Scurry, 2004)
7. Beyond the Crossroads: The Future of the Public University in America (Duderstadt and Womack, 2004)
8. Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education (David Kirp, 2003)
9. The Creation of the Future: The Role of the American University (Frank Rhodes, 2001)
10. The Engaged Institutions: Profiles and Data and Renewing the Covenant: Learning, Discovery, and Engagement in a New Age and Different World (Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, 1999 and 2000)
11. Breaking the Social Contract: The Fiscal Crisis in Higher Education CAE 1997
“The higher education sector is facing challenges unprecedented in its history and it is floundering in response.
Widespread access to higher education is critical to the economic health and social welfare of the nation.
Align undergraduate requirements, transfer requirements, joint teaching and degree producing arrangements with community colleges.
Change the structure of governance so that decision makers can reallocate scarce resources.
12. Academic Duty (D. Kennedy, 1997)
13. “The American Research University”, special edition of Daedalus, 199314. The Pew Higher Education Roundtable Series begun in 1993: “Seeing Straight Through the Muddle” and “Dancing with Change”