Positioning Colleges and Universities for Future Success
Edited by Madeleine B. d’ Ambrosio and Ronald G. Ehrenberg
Chapter 1: Balancing the Challenges of Today with the Promise of Tomorrow: A Presidential Perspective
F. King Alexander During the last decade many profound challenges have emerged for colleges and universities throughout much of the world. These challenges have signiﬁcantly reshaped the higher education landscape and forced institutional leaders to face important ﬁscal, managerial and educational pressures. Most of these pressures have been generated by the success of the higher education enterprise and the societal expectations that have followed. In this chapter I will highlight some of the more important issues and concerns impacting colleges and universities today according to four American college and university presidents who were invited to discuss these challenges as part of a presidential panel moderated by New York Times higher education columnist Alan Finder. The event was undertaken as an open exchange of ideas and focused on a wide variety of current trends and public issues. Participating in this discussion were President Gordon Gee from Vanderbilt University, who brought over 27 years of university leadership experience to the panel; President David Skorton from Cornell University and the former President of the University of Iowa; President Dolores Fernández from Hostos Community College in New York; and myself. What ultimately emerged from the panel’s dialogue and commentary were four principal macro themes or issues: the changing higher education landscape, college costs and prices, public accountability and scrutiny, and philanthropy. The panel discussants sought to describe how their respective colleges and universities are coping with these emergent issues while also exploring some of the strategies and ideas that are being implemented...
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