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Policy Perspectives

"The Third Imperative"
November 1999
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This essay describes a change of orientation that has occurred since mid-century with regard to both the provision of federal student financial aid and federal funding of research conducted in higher education institutions. In many ways the earlier federal commitments to advancing the public good through policy mechanisms has given way to an increased reliance on markets as the principal means of achieving societal objectives. The essay explores the question of how higher education can preserve the academic values and processes that are its defining elements in an environment that is less inclined to confer special status to any kind of institution. The worst outcome of all, it says, would be for traditional institutions of higher education to continue with business as usual in the face of this changing environment. Previous Policy Perspectives have stressed the need for universities and colleges to be "mission centered" and "market smart." This essay adds a third imperative: the need for institutions to become more politically savvy. Higher education would do so in part by learning to speak in more of a single voice in Washington, and in part by a concerted effort to explain its values and purpose in terms that resonate more strongly in today's society and among its political leadership.


"The Third Imperative" - Exemplars: "Arizona State University"
November 1999
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The Arizona Board of Regents had threatened to eliminate tenure in order to make its universities more accountable and more flexible in responding to new societal demands. Leaders at Arizona State University, working with regents as well as faculty members, forged a post-tenure review policy that addresses the concerns of all parties.


"Coming Around"
April 1999
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This essay focuses on higher education in the state of Florida as part of a broader examination of the context for state and federal policy in an age increasingly dominated by market forces. Over the next decade, the size of the 18-to-24-year-old cohort in Florida is expected to increase by approximately 200,000; the growth of this population is likely to yield an additional 80,000 young men and women who will seek some form of postsecondary education. Like many states, Florida faces the challenge not just of increasing capacity but of improving the quality of undergraduate education its students receive. "Coming Around" stresses the need for public policy that brings about educational results that market forces in themselves cannot achieve. Among its recommendations are: the need for greater mission differentiation among institutions; the need for truth in pricing; the need to define learning outcomes and gauge the success of institutions in meeting those goals; the need for better coordination between the state's policy on higher education and the needs of the business community; and the need for public policy that considers Florida's independent institutions as an integral part of the state's system of higher education.


"Coming Around" - Exemplars: "Wheaton College"
April 1999
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To overcome a long-standing division between faculty and administration over the issue of faculty salary, Wheaton College created a "profit-sharing" plan that adjusts faculty salary in relation to the institution's financial well-being.


"A Lens to the Enterprise"
February 1999
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The transformations that have occurred in health care through the 1980s and 90s offer insights of several kinds to higher education. This essay draws a series of lessons from the experience of community-based medical schools and clinical campuses in the United States. These smaller settings are in many ways the liberal arts colleges of the medical landscape; in an age when research capacity and greater size confer competitive advantage, there are increasing challenges to maintaining a smaller learning environment that stresses education and service. Founded in the 1970s, these community-based medical schools and clinical campuses exemplify ways in which institutions of higher education can maintain vitality after a change occurs in the political and economic conditions that gave rise to their founding. Major lessons include: the need to resolve the dichotomy in a mission that includes a commitment to research as well as to teaching and clinical practice; the need to develop alternative conceptions of faculty roles, responsibilities, evaluation, and reward; and the need to develop strategic partnerships that help an institution to serve more effectively a local community or region, as well as an extended constituency.