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In Defense of American Higher Education

, 376 pages

4 line drawings

July 2001



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In Defense of American Higher Education

The current era in higher education is characterized by increased need for accountability and fiscal constraint coupled with demands for increased productivity. Higher education is expected to meet the demand of changing student demographics, as well as requests for research and service from government and industry. To preserve the academy's ability to meet these demands, the editors and contributors to this volume argue that, while change is inevitable and desirable, any radical alterations to the practices that have established and upheld the excellence of higher education in the United States must be carefully considered.The editors and contributors cherish the best ideals of higher education: academic freedom, commitment to both inquiry and teaching, and preservation of an independence of mind and spirit in the face of external pressures. At the same time, the authors of these essays also reflect upon the failings of higher education, including problematic historical legacies such as racism, sexism, and anti-semitism. In Defense of American Higher Education is a careful analysis of what we have inherited, undertaken with a critical eye for constructive reform. It will be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of American higher education.

Philip G. Altbach is Monan Professor of Higher Education and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College. Patricia J. Gumport is an associate professor of Higher Education and director of the National Center for Postsecondary Improvement at Stanford University. D. Bruce Johnstone is a university professor at State University of New York, Buffalo.

"Belongs on any academic bookshelf that seeks to balance the wave of criticism now so prevalent in the field."

"A confident overview of the current condition of today's universities. Researchers, policymakers, and graduate students will appreciate the opportunity to react to some of the best minds in the field of higher education as they examine the state of the American university and predict its future direction."

"The value of this thoughtful collection of essays is more in its enduring than its timely concerns. The legacy of American higher education, we are reminded, is one of resilience, promise, and, to be sure, excellence despite the many challenges it faces in the near and longer terms."

"The contributions are informative and gather together scholars and evidence from many areas."

"This is a splendid book that will give readers a panoramic overview of university affairs, among the most important aspects of the American political economy, and its social system and the visions for it."

"Comprehensive and informative to both academic and non-academic readers."

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