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The Future of the Public University in America

, 256 pages
August 2004



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The Future of the Public University in America

Beyond the Crossroads



In the United States, public colleges and universities educate more than 80 percent of the nation's 11 million college students. Public universities conduct the majority of the country's campus-based research and produce most of the nation's doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and other professionals and public leaders. They provide critical services such as agricultural and industrial technology, health care, and economic development, and they help students of all ages develop more rewarding careers and more meaningful lives.

Written for everyone who is interested in and concerned about the nation's public universities, The Future of the Public University in America offers a view from the perspective of two experienced professionals. James J. Duderstadt, former president of the University of Michigan, and Farris W. Womack, former executive vice president and chief financial officer of the University of Michigan, explore the unique challenges facing public higher education today. They look at the forces driving change—economic imperatives, technology, and market forces—as well as the characteristics of the public university that make change difficult: the nature of its various campus communities, its governance system, its management and decision-making processes, and its leadership. The authors conclude by suggesting strategies at the state and federal level to preserve and strengthen public higher education as a resource for future generations.

James J. Duderstadt is president emeritus and university professor of science and engineering at the University of Michigan. Farris W. Womack served as the chief financial officer at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina. He also served as the chief financial officer of the State of Arkansas and the State of North Carolina.

"Duderstadt and Womack paint a picture of the present and allow us to glimpse, along with them, a future, seen through the proverbial glass, darkly."

"The university is about ideas—incubating a few self-reflective new ones about its own role and function has to be helpful."

"They have certainly done the public university, and not only in the USA, a considerable service by mapping out the problem with such clarity and authority."

"In this well-written and engaging book, James J. Duderstadt and Farris W. Womack draw on their extensive senior executive experience in public higher education to produce a powerful and impressive analysis of the forces at work in the environment of the contemporary public university. Fresh, hard hitting, and provocative, yet well reasoned and authoritative about the challenges the modern public university faces and the need for some fairly radical new thinking to meet them effectively, this book should create plenty to talk about in higher education and policymaking circles."

"The American public university is a most remarkable institution. It was created with a combination of vision and pragmatism, and has proven to be impressively adaptable to society's changing needs. Duderstadt and Womack, with insight acquired and honed in the trenches and on the battlements of one of the nation's foremost public universities, are pragmatic in addressing the challenges now facing the public universities—access and cost, new technology, market forces, financing, leadership, governance, etc.—and visionary in spelling out the opportunities that beckon."

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