Archive for Friday, July 14, 2017

Opinion: Some impressions from university leaders

July 14, 2017


… And the beat goes on.

In a survey of 10 four-year college and university presidents from across America, all but one is certain that new students for 2017-18 will have a lot of things up their sleeves.

The one who expressed uncertainty is a first-year president and admitted to being naive. But she is proving to be a quick learner.

The 10 presidents believe President Trump will be a target for many, including cynical faculty and boisterous students. The CEOs believe Trump should avoid the campus’ in the fall because he is certain to receive an inhospitable greeting and his words will fall largely on deaf ears.

Traditionally under-represented students will be eager to learn what has been done to advance their causes on the campus and in the community. These areas of debate — including race, gender, safe spaces and freedom of speech — were the most volatile areas of conflict, also involving unhappy faculty and staff.

Deans of students will feel daily pressure with few words of encouragement from anyone, much like last year with few pats on the back. The same will be true for the offices of the provost and president.

… and the beat goes on.

With America being challenged from around the globe, half of the university officials expect to have serious discussions on whether the United States should return to some type of universal draft. Women have met with enormous success in flight duties from ROTC and their flight schools with the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and the Marine Corps.

Female graduates are pressuring for the opportunity to have greater military participation. Pointing to the threat from North Korea, more and more officials in the government want the matter studied and resolved. A growing number of those within the Pentagon like the idea, or so the university brass report.

The academic majors that are already popular and still growing are business, mathematics, the sciences, medicine and dentistry, nursing, computer science, law and sports management. Six of the college and university presidents see slight declines in the arts and science and the fine arts.

With the cost of college tuition and the unsettled economy, immediate employment after graduation is a pressing issue, much of it coming from home.

Over-emphasis on success at college football and men’s and women’s basketball has resulted in skewed priorities. The national press is highly critical of ticket pricing for students, but it has become a central part of student life on weekends.

Rising debt is choking many students who have the skills to be productive college and university graduates. Too many governors and state legislators do not hear or have turned a deaf ear to the troubled masses, the academic leaders contend.

Something has to change and we need all of the able students that we can attract to higher education. The presidents are of like mind but use somewhat stronger language; they know the numbers, particularly of the high cost and low graduation rates, and what they mean.

… and the beat goes on.


P Allen Macfarlane 11 months ago

The good old days of Biff and Muffy will never return. We've crossed that river and we will never cross the same river again.

On the topic of universal service, I'm not a big believer in the draft, but I am a fan of requiring every 18 year old to spend 2 years in some kind of national or local service. I see the time as a way of allowing teens to become more mature and realistic about their way forward in life after service. It is also a way of getting some national and local priorities addressed that otherwise would languish.

With regard to post high school education, I m not optimistic. The ever increasing bureaucracy in administrations, the greed for outside money to support those administrators, the publish or perish mentality, and the lack of courage among university leaders in the face of threats to democracy and the marketplace of ideas will further erode the value of college.

That's my two cents.

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