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Presidents Glassner and Schapiro defend higher ed in op-ed

July 03, 2012

Amid the national media hype that traditional colleges and universities are in crisis, President Barry Glassner asserts in an editorial for the Los Angeles Times that there is no emergency because classic higher education is invariably adaptable and unequivocally valuable.

Glassner and coauthor Morton Schapiro, president, and a professor of economics, of Northwestern University in Illinois, insist that while alarmists portray a doomsday scenario of financial ruin, the facts point to the contrary—the American higher education model is a thriving leader in the world.

“Though college debt levels clearly are something to monitor, the vast majority of students graduate with relatively small debt burdens—about $25,000 on average—and about one-third leave college with no debt at all,” Glassner and Schapiro said. “Meanwhile, the college premium—the ratio of college earnings to high school earnings—is at or near record levels and has been increasing decade after decade since the late 1970s.”

Glassner and Schapiro confess they have common anxieties about their respective college campuses, but for reasons beyond the paranoid rhetoric that current pundits use to describe higher education.

“The truth is that we don’t always sleep well at night,” Glassner and Schapiro said. “But what keeps us up is surprisingly similar to what we suspect kept up chancellors at Oxford University half a millennium ago: How can we best provide students with a balance of the practical skills they’ll need for the world that awaits them and the abstract wisdom that will help them adapt when that world, and they themselves, change? How do we assist our students in their almost-universal desire to make a positive impact on society, while they are in college and after they graduate and become leaders in their communities? What should be the role of our institutions in addressing society’s most challenging issues?”

Read the Los Angeles Times editorial.



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