Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Shed no tiers for Columbia

Was reading Columbia University alumni mag interview with former provost Jonathan Cole about status of the university as an institution. At first he said some smart and well considered things. Then the interviewer asked him some questions about the concentration of wealth in a few rich universities and whether that might have the effect of creating a two-tiered system of universities. Cole responded something like: "Well, there is a danger that the University of Chicagos, Penns, and Columbias devolve into something like a farm system for elite graduate universities."

Hmmmm. When I hear discussion of tiering within the higher education world, I'm not getting all weepy about the "lesser Ivies" and their analogs, which seem to be doing just fine thank you by almost any metric. I think about something like a North Carolina Central, or a SUNY Albany, or a Cal State San Luis Obispo, or a or Mississippi State or something. There are lots of institutions of higher learning in America, and lots of tiers, and all of them have educational missions. Some are better funded than others, and always will be. Some prosper and improve, others go out of business or get consolidated. As a society it's in our interest to see that more of them do better, not to worry about a couple of the better ones falling out of step with its peers.

1 comment:

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