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Earlier this year in March, college and university presidents convened in Washington for an annual meeting to discuss the state of education. I was a panelist for a session entitled “Staying Ahead of the Curve: Rethinking the Higher Education Model.” While I don’t believe that the days of the traditional educational model are over, that model is on life support for most of us.

We all want to be winners. That trait is truly universal. But as U.S. higher education increasingly recruits students across international lines, how do we overcome challenges of language, culture, and academic preparedness to ensure that, while some win, others do not lose?

This question reflects one theme of the British Council’s sixth annual Going Global conference, which I attended in London in March. With 1,500 people from 80 countries, it explored how education can change the world’s future by shaping and connecting its citizens’ lives.

Now that we have all waved our classes of 2012 on their way with pomp and circumstance—and hopefully with sunny graduation days—it’s only natural to turn our attention to the classes of ’13, ’14, and ’15. But to read the headlines of the past few months, there’s still plenty to worry about concerning the graduates who are just entering the workforce and for whom the forecast is considerably cloudy.

There are more out lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) college students today than there have been at any other time in the history of higher education. In decades past, many young LGBT people experienced their coming out processes in college, yet today’s rising college freshmen have increasingly become more out and more vocal in high school and even in middle school.

Left in the wake of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged crimes at Penn State University are a highly regarded university president, a legendary football coach, and two high-level administrators charged with perjury for lying to the grand jury. The only person left standing is former Penn State Wide Receivers Coach Mike McQueary. McQueary testified before the grand jury that he personally witnessed Sandusky in the shower with a young boy, engaging in acts so distasteful that they need not be recounted here.

If you were to travel 10 years into the future and walk onto a college campus, what would you expect digital signage to look like? I’m not sure what it will look like, but what I do know is that my two young sons will want to interact with it. Steve Jobs left me a legacy of listening to endless fire truck videos; clips of animated cars, trucks, and trains speaking in German, Dutch, and Japanese; and video updates of the latest in dancing robots (“bebots,” as my 18-month-old calls them).

I am a bit perplexed. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get many listeners on the subject of the need for liberal arts colleges to offer a minor in business and entrepreneurship. Over the past month, I wrote to the presidents at four of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. about the possibility of this idea. One kindly responded right away, acknowledging that it may be worthwhile, but due to financial issues, no new programs were being introduced.

Growing numbers of students came to campus this fall, as they have for over half a century. The beginning of school year ritual seems to go on forever, but for the first time, there are signs that, in its present form, it won’t. And it is the oft-ignored college town outside the campus that will be most affected.


As universities push to support interdisciplinary education and research initiatives, a crucial ingredient is faculty collaboration across disciplinary and departmental lines. True collaboration—where faculty grasp the institutional “greater whole” that clearly values individual faculty contributions yet still transcends the sum of the faculty “parts”—is difficult to achieve.

It is becoming more and more fashionable to claim a greener identity, and it seems college students everywhere are excited to help the environment, particularly when their actions are visible to others. When questioned about reducing the carbon footprint at Bentley University (Mass.), for instance, I’ve been asked, “When are we going to install wind turbines?”