发布者: 千缘 | 发布时间: 2020-9-24 23:47| 查看数: 82| 评论数: 0|

Thank you for taking the time to sit with me today. First, tell us about your association.


The Association of American Colleges and Universities has a mission of advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education equity and quality as the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy.


Let’s talk about the status of small liberal arts colleges across the US. Where is it right now and what’s happening with them?


There’s a prevailing national rhetoric that calls into question the value of higher education in general, and liberal education in particular.


A number of small liberal arts colleges are at risk, in part because of this rhetoric, but also because they have served very distinctive missions. Many small, faith-based institutions in the past, had relied on the clergy, to do administrative work, to teach classes. And as their numbers are dwindling, the colleges are finding that they’re having trouble keeping up with the payroll. But there are many, many liberal arts institutions that are thriving today, and at AAC&U we believe that that mission is more critical than ever.


Can you give me some examples of colleges that have either closed or been taken over by larger academic institutions, and examples of colleges that are doing okay.


In the headlines recently there has been attention paid to places like Mount Ida College, looking at a partnership with the University of Massachusetts being absorbed by that.


Marlborough College is looking at a perspective absorption by Emerson, hats being contested right now. At Sweetbriar and Hampshire colleges were thinking about ways that they could partner with other institutions- the Board of Sweetbriar made a decision to close the college,


but the alumni got together and revitalized the college and it is continuing to grow and strengthen.


Hampshire College decided a year and a half ago not to admit a first year class, but they have allowed students who had already been admitted to the college to attend if they chose to and are very active in recruiting a new class, and their numbers continue to grow.


So these are colleges that have been at risk, who have looked at innovative ways to take new directions. There’s a recent book out by Mary Marcy -- who is the president of Dominican in California -- and her book focuses on the small college imperative and the ways that colleges that are committed to the liberal arts, but are small, can partner with others with business and industry K through 12 to create new pathways for excellence for student success.


And so, colleges like Bates College have new innovative programs that are connecting curriculum to career in ways that will help address some of the concerns of the skeptics around the fact that a liberal education is seen as inconsistent with employability in this world that is STEM-focused. What is your assessment of Trinity College? Like many colleges, its had its set of challenges, but seems to be doing well.


Trinity College is a very prestigious, liberal arts institution in Connecticut -- was founded in 1823with a mission to promote the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and since then has retained a reputation for excellence in the Liberal Arts and Sciences.


But they also have established themselves as an anchor institution, and they demonstrate the ways in which their success is inextricably linked to the success of those in the communities that they seek to serve - and so they do have partnerships with business and industry with K through 12 in the Hartford region.


And I think that makes all the difference at a time when we are trying to establish new pipelines for a diverse populations in liberal arts colleges. What are some of the reasons colleges are closing, or being taken over by other academic institutions?


There are a variety of reasons why small liberal arts colleges are closing.


There has been a disinvestment in higher education.


And there’s also been this rhetoric that I mentioned where liberal arts colleges are being called into question.


There has been a shift away from the notion of higher education as a public good, to viewing it as a private commodity. So tuition in exchange for jobs, and as tuition-driven institutions have needed increase their tuition and fees, there’s been some skepticism about the value added of that type of education. And so many students are going to community college, to public institutions, as a way of dealing with the cost. They may transfer into four-year independent ... colleges but that’s had some impact.


And the fact that we have so many options. One of the great strengths of American higher education is the diversity of the types of institutions. We know that you can get an education that is a quality education at a two-year Community College, a four year public research-institution, a whole range of institutions, and so these options have created some challenges and risks for small liberal arts colleges.


Some experts say some of these liberal arts colleges have had financial difficulty, and therefore closing because funds are being allocated to nonacademic initiatives like sports, sports facilities, things like that. What is your opinion about that? These are issues that we need to address; the issues of cost and allocation of scarce resources. When were talking about places like Trinity, or other small liberal arts colleges, they are most likely Division-3 schools so they’re not spending enormous amount of money on athletics, they don’t have athletic scholarships, but they recognize the importance of making sure that students have curricular and co-curricular experiences-- that they are learning, not only in the classroom, but issues of leadership outside of the classroom as well. What are some of the ways these problems can be mitigated?


Leaders of small liberal arts colleges need to tell their story in a more compelling way, not only to those inside of the academy, but to those outside of the academy as well, who may be skeptical about the value of a liberal education at a time when rapidly changing technology means rapid obsolescence. And in a world that is globally interdependent, the best preparation that we can offer students is one that teaches them to write, speak and think with precision, coherence and clarity, to anticipate and respond to objections, to engage in moral imagination, imagining what its like to be in the shoes of another different from oneself, and to be adaptable and flexible in the face of that rapid change. That’s exactly what a liberal education does for students.


The narrow technical training that has been promoted by many individuals today, places students at risk because once those resources are outsourced or replaced by new technologies, the students lose the capacity to become innovators in their own lives without a liberal arts background. We don’t think at AAC&U that there is an inconsistency between a liberal education and technical or pre-professional education. We think a liberal education can be applied to students at all types of institutions, and that’s what we are championing at our organization.



快速回复 返回顶部 返回列表