In our work with higher education leaders, we help college presidents and other leaders identify compelling topics and make their voices heard through op-eds, speeches and written communications. Doing so benefits their institution, contributes to the sector, and can influence both policy and public opinion in powerful ways. And given the coarsened nature of our public dialogue, these carefully considered perspectives become even more important.
As we noted in our recent essay about trends for Inside Higher Ed, the past year saw a number of leaders speaking up strongly on relevant issues. We reviewed the past year’s worth of presidential communications, and we offer below those contributions we thought were among the most interesting and impactful.
PRG has a particular interest in helping college, university and nonprofit leaders to articulate their vision effectively and find their individual “voice.” So we were delighted to see this piece by Bret Stephens of the New York Times offering tips for aspiring op-ed writers.
Lisa and I follow media coverage of higher education closely and publish a wide range of leadership op-eds in The Scan, our free daily and weekly newsletter. (You can sign up here.) We’ve observed an explosion of channels where academic leaders, administrators and faculty members can share their expert opinions on a wide range of topics.
This film should spark an interesting debate about the threat to public universities, and what to do about it. Public universities make key contributions that can’t be replicated elsewhere. Just for starters, they educate huge numbers of students compared with private institutions. Although most colleges and universities embrace a public mission in some fashion, these schools are uniquely dedicated to the wellbeing of their cities, states, region and the nation. Leaders across higher education–both public and private–are deeply concerned about the erosion in public investment and assaults on the mission of these very important institutions.
More information about the film, including the video trailer, can be found here. The film’s website also includes a thorough repository of relevant articles, documents and research on this topic.
William Bowen and Michael McPherson’s recent essay in Vox is a feisty and frank challenge to the negative hype about higher ed that seems so prevalent today.
“Commentators, politicians and journalists have thrown themselves—and, in turn, the public—into a state of persistent panic about the future of higher education with scary talk about spiraling student-load debt, worthless degrees, and reckless spending by colleges. But the doomsday is overblown.”
This piece is not just well considered and well written, it is one of the clearest explanations I have yet seen about some of the real challenges facing higher education versus the sensationalized and sometimes inaccurate public dialogue often fueled by media and politicians. Continue reading →
“One of the pivotal questions of our times that merits debating is merit itself.”
So begins Nancy Cantor’s recent essay in The Atlantic, described as a “dispatch from the Aspen Ideas Festival” where Cantor was a featured speaker this year.
I have known Nancy for a long time now, where as University of Michigan provost and social psychologist she was deeply involved in the institution’s defense of affirmative action in admissions. We experienced first-hand her passion for the issues of diversity and inclusion, and her articulation that all students benefit deeply from a richly diverse campus environment. Continue reading →