Thursday, December 27, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Uncertain Future of American Public Universities

Maryland Named a Top 20 Public University for ...
Top 20 Public University for 11th Year (UofM)
by Daniel Mark Fogel, UTNE Reader:

The future of American public universities is under threat as student debt skyrockets. As student costs skyrocket, driven by steep drops in funding, the viability of public higher education is under threat.

In Precipice or Crossroads? (SUNY Press, 2012), top experts in higher education address a broad range of issues central to the question of whether the quality of these institutions - and of American life and democracy - can be sustained. 

In the following excerpt from the introduction, Daniel Mark Fogel discusses the past, present and uncertain future of American public universities.

This volume poses a question of pressing importance to the American people.

Today, 150 years after the Morrill Land-grant Act generated the reigning paradigm of public higher education in the United States - a model combining accessible and inexpensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional education; research, discovery, and innovation; a commitment to the practical application of knowledge to address economic and social challenges; and a mission of service for the public good - our great public universities are under threat, and some would say they are facing their hour of maximum peril.

They are among the finest centers of education and knowledge creation anywhere. Seven of the top twenty research institutions in the world according to a recent ranking are American land-grant universities and as such they strongly support, with their private peers, Fareed Zakaria’s observation that “Higher education is America’s best industry.”

America’s public universities greatly exceed their private peers in scale and in the importance of their contribution to national prosperity, competitiveness, and security.

They perform more than 60 percent of the academic research and development in the nation. They educate some 85 percent of the students who receive bachelor’s degrees at all American research universities, and 70 percent of all graduate students.

They award more than 50 percent of the doctorates granted in the United States in eleven of thirteen national needs categories - including between 60 to 80 percent of the doctorates in computer and information sciences, engineering, foreign languages and linguistics, mathematics and statistics, physical sciences, and security.

Without the expansive capacity they provided after World War II to receive returning veterans and, later, the children and grandchildren of the veterans’ generation, America’s postwar prosperity and power would have been unthinkable and unattainable.
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