Generational Shockwaves and the Implications for Higher Education

Generational Shockwaves and the Implications for Higher Education

Edited by Donald E. Heller and Madeleine B. d’ Ambrosio

This volume, part of the TIAA-CREF Institute Series on Higher Education, is based on a national conference convened by the Institute in November 2007. The generational issues that were the focus of the conference raise both risks and opportunities with the potential to profoundly affect our cultural environment, both inside and outside academe.

Chapter 2: Perspectives from the Presidency

D. Bruce Johnstone

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, education, education policy, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, education policy


D. Bruce Johnstone Know your students. Another of higher education’s many aphorisms and platitudes—which of course does not make it incorrect or unimportant. But why, or to what end, should we in higher education seek to better understand our students? To increase our respective market shares? Or to cater better to their tastes and needs (perhaps as opposed to what we believe they should be taught)? Or to teach them whatever they are to be taught more effectively? But which students? The ones we are now attracting and who are selecting our institutions? Or the ones we wish we could attract away from other, more selective institutions? Or the students who are currently not attending anywhere—to their and to society’s presumed detriment—whom we (or at least some of us) would attract, enroll, and serve to a greater extent than we now do? Such questions lay at the heart of the TIAA-CREF Institute’s 2007 National Higher Education Leadership Conference, entitled “Generational Shockwaves: Implications for Higher Education,” held in New York City in November 2007. As a new member of the Institute and as a presumed leader (former college president and system chancellor) and also as a recently retired professor and scholar of higher education (specializing in finance, governance, and policy in domestic and international contexts), I was asked to be a participant. However, as I was unable to attend due to a previous unbreakable commitment, I was asked instead to contribute a chapter to the conference volume...

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