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John Petillo, president, Sacred Heart University, writes: Almost 160 years ago, John Henry Newman in his work, "The Idea of a University," observed: "If then a practical end must be assigned to a University course, I say it is that of training good members of society." Some 160 years later, the world is a much different place, but that goal is as relevant now as it was then. And a liberal arts education succeeds in doing that. I have seen proof.
Bill Destler, president, Rochester Institute of Technology, writes: Attempts to evaluate the quality of colleges and universities should start with the mission of the institution and evaluate the institution's success in achieving that mission (this, in fact, is what accrediting agencies do). In such a process, a community college could well achieve as high a rating as an Ivy League school, and students could choose to go where their educational needs are best matched. Unfortunately, no published ranking scheme has taken this approach.
D. Michael Lindsay, president, Gordon College, writes: Commencement should be a day to commemorate and elevate the tremendous accomplishments of our graduating students, in a proud celebration with their families and their faculty mentors. The very real possibility that the most meaningful moments of this day might be overshadowed by a marquee guest should be reason enough to reconsider the merits of this approach.
Robert A. Gervasi, president, Quincy University, writes: Not only is college still a good value, the investment, specifically in independent colleges, yields a favorable return, for taxpayers as well as for students. The Council of Independent Colleges, a national association of 600 private nonprofits, has researched the outcomes of graduates from so-called “private” and “public” institutions. The “privates” compare favorably on many measures, including aggregate cost to families and taxpayers.
Barry Glassner, president, Lewis & Clark College, and Morton Schapiro, president, Northwestern University, write: We eschew petitions because, as researchers and teachers, we know that any important issue deserves more serious thought and discussion than can be captured in a list of demands. And as leaders of educational institutions, we decline to add our own names to petitions for another reason: the other stack on our desks demanding that we, or our institutions, do something or stop doing something.
Michael S. Roth, president, Wesleyan University, writes: Last summer Wesleyan University became the first liberal-arts college to join Coursera. After reading about Coursera's success in attracting large numbers of students to courses taught by talented professors at strong universities, it seemed to me that we should become a partner. At that point summer was half over, and I wasn't certain who among my colleagues would want to participate. I knew I could volunteer myself for starters, and so that's what I did.
Kenneth Starr, president, Baylor University, writes: Angela is an outstanding young woman, full of promise. When she was 7, her parents brought her to the United States across the U.S.-Mexico border. Angela's undocumented status did not prevent her from excelling in her large public high school in Texas. But her status will prevent her from being eligible for federal financial aid — the only way her family can afford to send her to college. Holding Angela — and the estimated 1.5 million undocumented immigrant children in this country — responsible for their parents' illegal actions years earlier is unfair.
Sharon D. Herzberger, President, Whittier College writes: The AAC&U report, It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, summarizes a recent survey of business and nonprofit leaders, three-quarters of whom would recommend a "twenty-first century liberal education" to the young people they know to prepare them for "long-term professional success in today's global economy."
Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president, Wheelock College writes: I am deeply saddened by the senseless Patriot's Day Boston Marathon attacks on my beloved city and community. A day of celebration for so many became a day now forged in my memory with the heartbreaking loss of the lives of three innocent bystanders and a transit police officer, and the more than 200 people injured.
David Skorton, president, Cornell University & Glenn Altschuler, Vice President for University Relations write: The National Science Foundation (NSF) was created in 1950 thanks to the drive of Vannevar Bush. It wasn’t as powerful or independent as Bush had hoped, but its mission follows his outline closely. One of the great success stories of the post–World War II era, the NSF, we fear, however, is becoming less and less able to enhance our nation’s scientific capital.
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