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Remaking College

Innovation and the Liberal Arts College

edited by Rebecca Chopp, Susan Frost, and Daniel H. Weiss

Publication Year: 2013

Residential liberal arts colleges maintain a unique place in the landscape of American higher education. These schools are characterized by broad-based curricula, small class size, and interaction between students and faculty. Aimed at developing students’ intellectual literacy and critical-thinking skills rather than specific professional preparation, the value proposition made by these colleges has recently come under intense pressure. Remaking College brings together a large and distinguished group of higher education leaders to define the American liberal arts model, to describe the challenges these institutions face, and to propose sustainable solutions. Both economic and strategic environments have developed to threaten these schools. Since 1990, for example, 35 percent of these institutions have transformed into “professional” colleges offering more vocational fields to their curricula while others have closed their doors entirely. Is there a future for these uniquely American institutions like Vassar and Smith, Macalester and Pomona, Middlebury and Swarthmore? Remaking College elucidates the shifting economic and financial models for liberal arts colleges and considers the opportunities afforded by technology, globalism, and intercollegiate cooperative models. Finally, it considers the unique position these schools can play in their communities and in the larger world.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-x

The essays gathered within this volume represent a shared vision of liberal arts colleges in the United States at a time of profound change and in the face of great opportunity. The twenty contributors are all sitting presidents or other educational leaders who have reflected carefully on the future of liberal arts education ...

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pp. xi-xii

It is a pleasure to thank friends and colleagues who have supported this project. Earlier versions of the essays gathered here were first presented at the Lafayette/Swarthmore conference “The Future of the Liberal Arts College in America and Its Leadership Role in Education around the World” held on the campus of Lafayette College in April 2012. ...

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Introduction. Updating the Liberal Arts Mission for the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 1-10

Residential liberal arts colleges may well be among the most resilient institutions in our culture. Indeed, the colleges represented in this book are among the oldest continuing institutions in the United States. With considerable fortitude and adaptability, they have continued through times of financial recession and depression, wars and conflicts of all sizes, ...

Part I. Reimagining the Liberal Arts College in America

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1. Remaking, Renewing, Reimagining: The Liberal Arts College Takes Advantage of Change

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pp. 13-24

The “distinctively American” tradition of residential liberal arts colleges rests on the foundation of an early social charter between American higher education and democratic society.1 Simply put, the story goes like this: Sixteen years after the Pilgrims landed on the shore of Plymouth Harbor, Harvard was founded. ...

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2. Challenges and Opportunities in the Changing Landscape

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pp. 25-40

The greatest challenge facing higher education today—both for individual institutions and for the system as a whole—lies in the ability of its leaders and key stakeholders to realize an academically compelling, publically comprehensible, and economically sustainable vision in an environment of profound uncertainty. ...

Part II. An Opportunity to Lead

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3. Economics and Affordability

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pp. 43-58

At a time when the cost of a college education is rising and household incomes are declining, university and college leaders are faced with some difficult questions about the price and affordability of higher education. Indeed, President Barack Obama emphasized this very point in his 2012 State of the Union address, ...

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4. Using Governance to Strengthen the Liberal Arts

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pp. 59-68

Governance issues in higher education rarely make headline news, but that’s exactly what happened in June 2012 when the University of Virginia’s board of trustees abruptly forced the president to resign, then voted unanimously to reinstate her sixteen days later. ...

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5. Orchestrating Shared Governance

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pp. 69-74

Having served as president at three liberal arts colleges,1 I have thought a lot about the relationship of the president to the board and to the faculty. Indeed, I believe that the president’s success in large part will rise or fall on how skillfully he or she handles these relationships. ...

Part III. Knowledge, Learning, and New Technologies

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6. Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges in Teaching

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pp. 77-84

Interdisciplinary research, bringing together contributors from a range of fields to collaborate on broad problems or bringing a novel perspective to a traditional subject, is the hallmark of scholarship in the twenty-first century. A future breakthrough in molecular biology may rely on advanced techniques in statistics or computer science, ...

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7. Interdisciplinary Perspectives and the Liberal Arts

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pp. 85-95

At a presentation in 2008 at New York University’s Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, William Durden, president of Dickinson College, suggested that the key to the future of liberal arts colleges “lies in embracing our past by offering a distinctively American higher education for the twenty-first century. ...

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8. Technology in Education: Revolution or Evolution?

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pp. 96-104

It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine—The New York Times education section, Chronicle of Higher Education, EDUCAUSE Review—without encountering the passionate assertion that information technology has changed everything about our students and how we must educate them. Streaming video. Chat rooms. Laptops. iPods. ...

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9. You Can Run, but You Can’t Hide

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pp. 105-114

Colleges and universities have survived numerous calamities over the centuries—civil wars and world wars, industrial revolutions, and depressions—and have remained remarkably strong and vibrant. Seventy (82%) of the eighty-five institutions of all kinds established by 1520 that continue to exist in recognizable form are colleges or universities.1 ...

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10. Technology, Learning, and Campus Culture

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pp. 115-122

In his final Sunday sermon on March 31, 1968, “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighborhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood.”1 ...

Part IV. Collaboration and Partnerships

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11. The Future of Liberal Arts Colleges Begins with Collaboration

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pp. 125-134

“The American university of 1900,” historian Laurence Veysey famously observed, “was all but unrecognizable in comparison with the college of 1860.”1 The new emphasis on research, the rise of professional education, and the recognition, particularly among leading public institutions, ...

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12. The College without Walls: Partnerships at Home and Abroad

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pp. 135-143

The residential college has traditionally been a locus amoenus, an idealized place, bounded in its very nature, almost a kind of pastoral. An intentional community, in Rebecca Chopp’s phrase, it seeks to model a democratic society for the purpose of developing both citizenship and leadership. ...

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13. The Networked College—Local, Global, Virtual

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pp. 144-154

A wonderfully evocative photograph of Bryn Mawr College that dates from its earliest days presents a graceful, bell-towered building standing alone at the center of a cleared field. Viewing the photo today, we automatically populate that empty field with all that has been added, the beloved campus created by the vision and vigor of those who preceded us. ...

Part V. Residential Communities and Social Purpose

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14. The Liberal Arts College Unbound

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pp. 157-168

My opening proposition is relatively straightforward: the continued health and relevance of small, residential liberal arts colleges will be determined by the extent to which such institutions are prepared to focus on quality, distinctiveness, and social purpose. We need to be positioned to demonstrate as concretely as is feasible ...

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15. “Glowing against the Gray, Sober against the Fire”: Residential Academic Communities in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 169-179

The Wall Street Journal published its “millennial edition” on New Year’s Day 2000 with essays about what the future might hold for every sector of American life. One such article had to do with the future of the liberal arts college. “The classroom of the future,” it began, “won’t have much in common with today’s version. ...

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16. The Intercultural Connection: Students and the Liberal Arts

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pp. 180-186

Private liberal arts colleges have distinguished themselves from larger state universities for many years because of their more intimate size and the high percentage of students who reside on campus. To be sure, this may not be the most cost-effective approach to higher education. ...

Part VI. Future Prospects for the Liberal Arts College

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17. More to Hope Than to Fear: The Future of the Liberal Arts College

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pp. 189-202

My aim in this chapter is first to sketch some of the environmental trends affecting liberal arts colleges and then discuss their implications for these colleges. In seeking to discharge this assignment, I am cognizant of the extent to which how one was educated and spent one’s formative years affects one’s life. ...


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pp. 203-206


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pp. 207-212

E-ISBN-13: 9781421411354
E-ISBN-10: 1421411350
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421411347
Print-ISBN-10: 1421411342

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 3 line drawings
Publication Year: 2013