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ERIC Number: EJ1072082
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0748-8475
The "Public" University: Recalling Higher Education's Democratic Purpose
Benson, Michael T.; Boyd, Hal R.
Thought & Action, p69-84 Sum 2015
The modern university has been called, "a series of separate schools and departments held together by a central heating system," and, in a play on this line, "a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking." Whether parking, heating, or, more probable today, WiFi, these tongue-in-cheek caricatures belie a more serious worry that higher education is rudderless, lacking a unifying "raison d'etre". Across the U.S., pockets of politicians view higher education in economic terms, seeking to peg public funding to the size of post-graduation salaries or other criteria ostensibly focused on outcomes more than inputs. Professors and administrators, at times at odds with this perspective on higher education, see cultivating critical thinking as college's central purpose. Meanwhile, student feedback demonstrates the vital role relationships play in university life. These and other visions of higher education may initially appear to conflict; yet, we argue that they often operate in concert to serve higher education's broader public purpose--that of supporting our national democracy.
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Morrill Act 1862
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A