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The Political University

, 240 pages
November 2001
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The Political University

Policy, Politics, and Presidential Leadership in the American Research University

Research universities are unique in American education in the degree to which they are sensitive to policies of the national government. According to Robert Rosenzweig, it is impossible to understand the recent past, the present, and the future of the university without understanding the political process that determines those policies—including the various ways universities have tried, with mixed results, to shape them to their own ends.

In The Political University, the former Stanford administrator and president of the Association of American Universities offers an insider's perspective on research universities, the AAU, and the Washington political agenda. Drawing on thirty years of professional experience, Rosenzweig discusses the problems and prospects of American research universities in light of such issues as shifting federal policies, resource constraints, increased partnerships with business and industry, and the changing needs and perceptions of the larger society. His book also brings other valuable perspectives to the discussion—those of twelve former university presidents, all of whom served through the 1980s, all of whom left office around 1990 for various reasons, and none of whom will ever hold a presidency again. This edition contains a new introduction, which brings some of the issues dealt with in the book into sharper relief. In candid and wide-ranging discussions with Rosenzweig, the former presidents examine the complex political process on which the modern research university depends—and through which the modern university president must lead constituents.

Robert M. Rosenzweig has spent his career in and around universities and currently writes and consults on university matters. From 1962 to 1982, he held a variety of positions at Stanford University, including Vice President for Public Affairs. He served as president of the Association of American Universities from 1983 to 1993. His books include The Federal Interest in Higher Education and The Research Universities and Their Patrons.

"Informative observation by a former Stanford administrator and president of the Association of American Universities... recommended for general readers, upper-division undergraduates, faculty, and professionals."

"Rosenzweig combines unabashed admiration for American research universities, honesty about their real-world shortcomings, keen appreciation for academic quality, and apprehension bordering on congenital pessimism about looming threats to their continued effectiveness."

"A very readable and excellent portrait of today's American research university."