Smart Leadership for Higher Education in Difficult Times

Smart Leadership for Higher Education in Difficult Times

Edited by David W. Breneman and Paul J. Yakoboski

As the US economy emerges from the severest recession in a generation, large questions regarding its long-term ramifications for higher education remain unanswered. In fact, the harshest effects of the economic downturn are likely ahead as campus leadership focuses on enrollment, affordability and fundraising. This volume of essays examines the challenges and opportunities for advancing higher education’s core missions of education, research and service in a resource-constrained environment.

Chapter 4: Beyond the ‘New Normal’ in American Higher Education: Toward Perpetual Innovation

Michael M. Crow

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, economics and finance, economics of education, public sector economics, education, economics of education, management and universities


4. Beyond the “new normal” in American higher education: toward perpetual innovation Michael M. Crow As the United States negotiates its recovery from the near meltdown of global economic markets, most institutions of higher education are engaged in some form of damage control and reassessment. Confronted by continuing fallout from the repercussions of the fiscal crisis, many colleges and universities are retrenching as if under siege while others are focused on restoring equilibrium. Still others are determined to seize the moment as an opportunity to restructure their academic organization or administrative mechanisms, generally with the intent of becoming more “efficient.” Much of the discussion surrounding the implications of the downturn for the academy has been couched in terms of a desire to attain to some condition of “new normalcy” in higher education. I would maintain that any intent to seek a new normalcy in higher education is inherently misguided because such an objective suggests that conditions were tenable prior to their disruption by the economic dislocation. Indeed, I would argue that we must strike the notion of “normal” from the lexicon of American higher education because for decades the status quo has been characterized by progressive ossification and disinvestment. In my usage of the term, “ossification” refers to the lack of innovation in the organization and practices of our colleges and universities, and “disinvestment” refers to the progressive decline in investment, particularly from the public sector, in the infrastructure of higher education. It is the lack of innovation, however, even...

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