Both communities and higher education are in a time of dramatic change, when higher education faces new challenges and citizens often feel powerless.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, enrollment at degree-granting institutions rose 37 percent between 2000 and 2010 to a record 21 million students. During the same period, the cost of higher education rose as well, and states have drastically reduced financial support for higher education. To meet costs, students are borrowing at unprecedented levels — last year, student load debt exceeded credit-card debt for the first time at over $1 trillion (yes, that's trillion) — setting themselves up for decades of loan repayments and economic hardships.
Meanwhile, communities face a host of problems, from growing poverty and chronic unemployment to troubled schools and partisan gridlock.