On Topic

Trying to answer the unanswerable

Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Laurie Leshin talks about the motivation of discovery

A self-described “space nerd,” Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Laurie Leshin brings an infectious sense of wonderment and discovery to almost everything she does. Leshin will share that enthusiasm as a keynote speaker at UBTech in June, discussing “How innovation is unleashed by asking unanswerable questions.”

Higher ed is a tough world, but it’s a world we made

Roger Williams’ president says higher ed deserves much of the criticism it gets.

People often go to college for the wrong reasons, with assumptions about how it’s going to benefit them, says Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University. An outspoken proponent of access and affordability, Farish—who will speak at the new UBThrive program this June—says colleges and students need to be more realistic about what to expect.

Technology demands a delicate balance in higher ed

Purdue’s CIO and UBTech speaker discusses the tension between education and technology

Gerry McCartney embraces technology as much as he rejects it. As CIO of the Purdue University system, as well as vice president for information technology, he knows that bringing technology to teaching requires a delicate balance. While it can simplify some processes, it still can’t replace what he calls “the learning moment.”

Breaking away from higher ed's herd mentality

Focus on academic and extracurricular achievements may come at the expense of individualism and independent thinking

In 2008, former Yale professor William Deresiewicz's scathing essay on elite colleges and universities went viral, gaining more than 100,000 views in a matter of weeks. His book Excellent Sheep: Thinking for Yourself, Inventing Your Life, and Other Things the Ivy League Won’t Teach You continues the theme.

Helping women in higher education help themselves

Simmons College President Helen Drinan says there’s still a long way to go toward equality

Helen Drinan is nothing if not outspoken. The president of Simmons College is a strong advocate of women’s rights, diversity and equal opportunity. Coming from a corporate background where she often had to stand up for herself in a male-dominated environment, Drinan pulls no punches when pointing out higher education’s shortcomings.

Preparing for the ‘after’ life in higher ed

A new book argues that colleges don’t do enough to promote post-graduate success

When Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa published Academically Adrift in 2011, it exposed the shortcomings of undergraduate learning.

Jump-starting the liberal arts conversation

How liberal education helps reshape ourselves and society

Read just about any editorial page these days and you’ll see a familiar refrain: “Is a college degree still worth it?” Wesleyan University (Conn.) President Michael Roth argues that not only is it worth it, but that it is more important than ever.

Higher education admittedly faces many challenges over cost and access. Online instruction, certificate courses and skills-based learning offer fixes, but Roth says there is much more to higher education than just getting a job.

Unmet obligations, misplaced priorities in higher ed

Examining a social class system that disadvantages the majority

A common notion of college is that it’s a great equalizer—anyone who works hard and applies themselves can achieve a better life.

But Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist from University of Michigan, and Laura Hamilton, a professor from University of California, Merced present a different reality in Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2013). The authors say that, on today’s campuses, success depends as much on where you’re from and who you know as it does on academic ability.

Building ‘the perfect university’

CEO of the Minerva Project says it starts with a clean slate, without the baggage of a traditional school.

What if you could create a new kind of university? What would it be like?

For Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, it would combine a redefined student body, a reinvented curriculum, rigorous academic standards, cutting-edge technology and an immersive global experience. Nelson launched Minerva in 2011 to provide an Ivy League-like education at a fraction of the cost.

Escaping the athletic trap

How college sports has led to an ‘arms race’ in which there are more losers than winners

College sports has long had its share of scandals, including rape charges against players and coaches, illegal payments to athletes, academic fraud and point shaving, to name a few.

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