Seven Critical Attributes

From: The Future of Higher Education: Rhetoric, Reality, and the Risks of the Market, by Frank Newman, Lara Couturier, and Jamie Scurry, 2004.

  1. Bearing responsibility for student learning.
  2. Providing social mobility by moving beyond access to attainment.
  3. Protecting the public investment by addressing efficiency and productivity.
  4. Supporting elementary and secondary education.
  5. Conducting needed research.
  6. Serving as society's critic.
  7. Building civic engagement to sustain the democracy.

The growing gap between rhetoric and reality (p. 66):

The rhetoric describes devotion to student learning, while in reality the student bears principal responsibility for learning and for any failure.

The rhetoric describes devotion to teaching, while in reality the overwhelming time, energy, and creativity of the faculty at four-year institutions are devoted to research, publishing, and outside consulting.

The rhetoric calls for broader access to higher education, while merit-based financial aid programs are increasing at a greater rate than need-based financial aid, and institutions are focusing more and more on recruiting the best and wealthiest students.

The rhetoric calls for service to the community, while attention is focused on improving rankings such as those in U.S. News & World Report.

The rhetoric proclaims the importance of fundamental and trustworthy scholarship that serves society, while in fact impartiality is undercut by growing corporate control of research and faculty conflicts of interest.