The "Existential" Crisis in Higher Education

Glenn Ricketts

At least, that’s what Syracuse University president Nancy Cantor is calling it in this recent piece at the Huffington Post.

Notwithstanding the ominous title, I’m not sure what Cantor intends  to say here : multiple re-readings haven’t gotten me out of the dark.  “From a media perspective,” she writes, the crisis is all about runaway costs and low productivity – college costs lots more money these days and doesn’t give you very much in return for that ever-inflating price tag.

But to put the point that way suggests to me at least that Cantor thinks there isn’t much substance to it. Rather than simply a “media perspective,” I’d say it reflects the experience of the poor folks who have shelled out the big money and don’t have much to show for it except a mountainous debt, bad grammar, and  unemployment.  The media may be reporting those trends, but they’re pretty “existential” for  lots of people and not simply the creation of journalists looking for a hot story.

I’m even less clear on what Cantor thinks we ought to do to address the “crisis,” although she suggests that we’ll need to focus our attention on “social mobility,” “civic leadership”  and “effective high-impact community-based collaborations.”    If I had to guess, I’d say that means hiring lots more deans of diversity, institutional wellness , sustainability and civic engagement with attendant  expensive commissions to study the crisis.    In other words, the same again, please.  Plus ca change……

  • Share

Most Commented

June 13, 2022

1.

Regime Change: Repelling the DEI Assault on Higher Education

The last few decades have seen a total transformation of higher education's mission in American society. What was once an institution that encouraged innovation, built character, and sou......

May 12, 2022

2.

Mornin’ Ralph, Mornin’ Sam in Anthropology Today

Professor Lowrey recounts her latest encounter with academic cancel culture, this time with an acceptance-turned-rejection at Anthropology Today....

May 31, 2022

3.

Can America’s Colleges and Universities Be Saved?

We urge American citizens and policymakers to reform our higher education system while there is still time....

Most Read

June 13, 2022

1.

Regime Change: Repelling the DEI Assault on Higher Education

The last few decades have seen a total transformation of higher education's mission in American society. What was once an institution that encouraged innovation, built character, and sou......

May 15, 2015

2.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

June 21, 2022

3.

Press Release: Confucius Institutes Rebrand to Circumvent U.S. Policy, Report Finds

A new report from the National Association of Scholars finds that colleges and universities continue to host Chinese-funded programs similar to Confucius Institutes under new names......