"A Promise Worth Keeping"
Demographic and economic changes in California over the past 30 years foretell many of the issues confronting other states and higher education institutions throughout the United States. This essay focuses on the challenges of that state to sustain quality and meet a growing demand for access to higher education. There is a need for policy decisions regarding how and to what extent the promise of access to a quality higher education can be sustained, as the number of traditional-aged and non-traditional learners continues to grow. This essay describes the context for policy and poses a set of questions that such policies must confront. It calls on higher education institutions to exhibit greater willingness to work collectively both within and across institutional boundaries, as well as to develop more effective partnerships with K-12 institutions to ensure that more students in the educational pipeline come to benefit from the social and economic acceleration that higher education provides.
"A Promise Worth Keeping": Exemplars# "Alverno College"
To help students at this womens college become effective citizens and lifelong learners, Alverno College refocused its liberal arts education on student learning through the integration of ability development and knowledge assessed through performance.
"A Promise Worth Keeping": Exemplars# "Portland State University"
In the face of declining state revenues, Portland State University transformed its fragmented curriculum into one that meets the mission of an urban university by: undertaking administrative restructuring, reinventing the curriculum with an interdisciplinary focus, and initiating experiential learning programs that benefit both students and the community.
"A Promise Worth Keeping": Exemplars# "Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute"
To reverse shortfalls in student learning and reduce a structural budget deficit of $25 million, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute made its educational experience more student-centered through the innovative use of technology in the classroom and the replacement of the lecture/lab/recitation format with smaller, interactive studio courses.
Drawing from the "Return to St. Louis" discussions of November 1996, this essay charts the issues that higher education institutions continue to face, including the need to respond to the reshaping of conceptions by market forces of what should be taught and how, the need to contain the rising price of attaining a higher education, and the need to revitalize and streamline academic governance. The essay proposes four steps by which institutions can act more decisively to meet these and other challenges: first, establish a basis of trust among members of a campus community through the sharing of institutional data and other means; second, link advocacy with reform to ensure that the values an institution professes to its external constituencies align with actions taken to bring about effective learning within; third, recast governance to avert the impediments to meaningful change that a handful of disaffected faculty can create; fourth, control costs by focusing on institutional strengths and becoming more efficient. The essay concludes by setting out the agenda for the new Knight Higher Education Collaborative for the next two years.