Edited by David W. Breneman and Paul J. Yakoboski
Chapter 3: Expanded Access to Public Higher Education: Challenges for the Twenty-first Century
Charles B. Reed When the 2009 Higher Education Leadership Conference was first convened, higher education leaders from across the United States were asked to talk about the challenges ahead for colleges and universities. The question before us: What is the “new normal,” and how will colleges and universities need to operate differently than we have in the past? At this point, we are almost all in agreement that colleges and universities cannot afford to maintain business as usual right now. In fact, the only thing we know for sure about the “new normal” is that things are going to continue to change, and we are never going back to the way things were 25, 50, or 75 years ago. To understand where we are headed, consider the following about the United States economy, workforce needs, and demographics. First, the importance of a college degree is higher than ever. We’re facing a crisis in the United States because of our failure to get enough of our young people into higher education. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities has reported that in Japan, Korea and Canada, more than 50 percent of young adults hold college degrees. In the United States, only 41 percent of young adults hold those degrees. Recognizing this shortfall, President Obama in his 2009 State of the Union address set a goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The reasoning was that we must have more of our young adults earning...
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