Checklist for Change
Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Publication Year: 2013
Robert Zemsky details the complications that have impeded every credible reform intended to change American higher education. He demythologizes such initiatives as the Morrill Act, the GI Bill, and the Higher Education Act of 1972, shedding new light on their origins and the ways they have shaped higher education in unanticipated and not commonly understood ways. Next, he addresses overly simplistic arguments about the causes of the problems we face and builds a convincing argument that well-intentioned actions have combined to create the current mess for which everyone is to blame.
Using provocative case studies, Zemsky describes the reforms being implemented at a few institutions with the hope that these might serve as harbingers of the kinds of change needed: the University of Minnesota at Rochester’s compact curriculum in the health sciences only, Whittier College’s emphasis on learning outcomes, and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s coherent overall curriculum.
In conclusion, Zemsky describes the principal changes that must occur not singly but in combination. These include a fundamental recasting of federal financial aid; new mechanisms for better channeling the competition among colleges and universities; recasting the undergraduate curriculum; and a stronger, more collective faculty voice in governance that defines not why, but how the enterprise must change.
Published by: Rutgers University Press
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I am almost embarrassed at just how extensive a list of acknowledgments I owe for a volume that was expected to be a personal summing-up— almost, but not quite. For me at least, one reward of writing is learning how to ask for and accept help. ...
Table of Contents
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Chapter 1:Trapped in an Exxlesiastes Moment
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...cabinet but already a major commentator on securing America’s eco-nomic future. In those days the big accounting firms regularly broughtcadres of university officers to Florida or some other sunny location tonetwork with each other and their partners who were responsible forthe firm’s higher education practice. Golf, of course, was also on the...
Chapter 2: A Faculty Encamped Just North of Armageddon
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...that changing American higher education ought to be the business ofthe faculty. Although often used as a shield against those who want fac-ulty to teach more, the truth is that: learning and research are jointproducts in which, necessarily, the former proceeds from the latter.Faculty teach what their research and disciplines have taught them....
Chapter 3: A Federalized Market with Little Incentive to Change
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...wrong; in a Clintonesque moment they are ready, willing, and able toremind higher education’s critics that “It’s the market, stupid.”Colleges and universities, professors remind all who will listen, are notbusinesses with a singular focus on their bottom line and thereforeshouldn’t be expected to achieve the kinds of efficiencies being...
Chapter 4: A Regulatory Quagmire
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...report, Charles Miller orchestrated a preemptive attack on the volun-accredited its colleges and universities. First was a paper by RobertDickeson, a former vice president of the Lumina Foundation and at thetime a principal consultant to the commission. While Dickeson’s titleproduced at Miller’s request, however, was a scathing report that...
Chapter 5: A Troublesom Fractiousness
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...be forgiven for asking, “What happened?” Public colleges and univer-sities have a right to feel particularly put upon. In that host of stateswhose economies and revenues have been ravaged by a debilitatingrecession, publicly funded institutions have cut programs, laid off fac-ulty and staff, and instituted mandatory furloughs. Responding to...
Chapter 6: A Disruptive Lexicon
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...calling for fewer administrators, a less ready supply of student ameni-ties, and a more flexible commitment to faculty autonomy in generaland tenure in particular. Now, however, higher education’s efficiencypundits are after much bigger game. Having decided to focus on howcolleges and universities actually do their business, these critics now...
Chapter 7: A Different Footprint
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...the founding of a new research university has not proved to be a com-mon occurrence. With few exceptions, the more than fifteen hundrednew or transformed institutions created after the war were either com-munity colleges, public comprehensive universities newly founded orconverted from state normal institutions, or for-profit entities that...
Chapter 8: A Liberal Arts Conundrum
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...on higher education and the past president of a liberal arts college,posed the central question then vexing what had once been the crownjewel of American higher education: Liberal Arts Colleges—Thriving,Surviving, or Endangered? He opened his volume bearing that titlewith a recitation of the unsettling statistics that had necessarily begged...
Chapter 9: A New Peace Treaty
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...journeying to a neighboring two-year institution that annually suppliesthe largest number of Oshkosh’s transfer students. Invited to participatein a faculty and staff workshop, the Oshkosh delegation was greeted,not with the polite applause they expected, but with a robust round ofboos. When they tentatively inquired about the unfriendly welcome,...
Chapter 10: A Stronger Faculty Voice
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...reached a moment of inflection—or as Robert Reich would want to say,“It’s just possible, maybe even this year, that American colleges anduniversities will have to change.” To be sure, I have made such predic-tions before, only to have the moment come and go, leaving thingschange that can either rejuvenate the academy or transform it in ways...
Chapter 11: A Competent Curriculum
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...rather than the processes that produce the numbers. The result, moreoften than not, is more proclamation than analysis. Colleges and uni-versities are portrayed as being inefficient to the point of being sloppyor undisciplined or simply indifferent to the impact their higher priceshave on middle- and low-income students. Everyone blames someone...
Chapter 12: A Federal Commitment to Fix, Fund, and Facilitate
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...twelfth chapter focusing on the federal government’s responsibilitiesin a process meant to recast American higher education. Thirty yearsago, the federal government was largely seen as a disinterested sourcesupremacy in scientific research and education and family/studentfinancing of undergraduate educations. Outside a handful of adminis-...
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About the Author
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In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Robert Zemsky described himselfas someone “old and round enough to be mistaken for a pooh-bah.” Inhis forty-year career he has proved to be a major commentator on thefuture of both American and global higher education. He has pioneeredUniversity of Pennsylvania’s chief planning officer, and was the found-...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013