Brown U. Inaugurates Paxson As New President

Ann McClure's picture

Brown University's new president provided a staunch defense of the value of higher education during a public swearing in ceremony on Saturday, stressing the role universities play in driving innovation and positive change.

Christina Paxson, who was officially sworn in this summer as the Ivy League school's 19th president, dismissed claims that American universities have somehow "gone off-track." Instead, Paxson argued, the full value of scholarship is "uncertain, difficult to measure, and may not be fully realized for decades or even centuries."

Flanked by representatives from some of the country's most prestigious universities, the noted economist who came to Brown from Princeton University pushed back against critics who have questioned whether students, saddled with mounting college loan debt and dim job prospects, are truly benefiting from the cost of an undergraduate degree.

"I believe that much of the current criticism of higher education stems from a short-sighted misconception of its fundamental purpose and a lack of imagination about its potential," she said. "We are not in the business of producing widgets, in the form of standardized 'career-ready' graduates. Instead, our aim is to invest in the long-term intellectual, creative, and social capacity of human beings."

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