Thirtieth Anniversary Action Statement

July 28, 2015

Every summer, Campus Compact convenes a National Network Leadership Meeting, bringing together our Board of Directors, the chairs of our state and regional Compact boards, our state and regional executive directors, and our national staff. We take stock of our network and of the national movement for the public purposes of higher education, and we work to identify the steps we can take to increase the scope and impact of our movement. This summer, we met in Minneapolis, where we were hosted by Augsburg College and its president, Paul Pribbenow, a member of our board and one of the most…

Tell us your stories about responding to Baltimore

July 13, 2015

In May, Campus Compact released a statement about how colleges and universities can respond to the events in Baltimore, Ferguson, and elsewhere around the United States. The statement included a list of recommendations and an accompanying set of resources. Since then, I have heard from several colleagues about steps their campuses have taken–or plans they have made–based on these recommendations. I would love to hear more such stories. If your campus has taken action or made plans in response to the Campus Compact recommendations–or even without prompting from us–please share your story. Submit a comment in response to this post….

Remembering Pat Donohue

July 13, 2015

Pat Donohue, until recently assistant provost for community engaged learning programs and partnerships at The College of New Jersey, died last week. Pat represented the very best of higher education community engagement. In the nine years he spent at TCNJ, Pat built the college’s Bonner program into an extraordinary vehicle for learning and for positive community change. He did much more than that—creating and expanding a wide range of programs—but his work with the Bonners will be his enduring legacy. What stands out about Pat’s work at TCNJ is the depth of his twin commitments to the development of his…

Are College Graduates Prepared to Support their Alma Maters?

President, Campus Compact|
May 8, 2015

In recent weeks, public universities across the country have found themselves buffeted by political forces. In Wisconsin, Louisiana, Illinois, and North Carolina, budgets have been cut, longstanding missions questioned, and centers closed. In states that have attracted less attention, the story is not all that different. In May of 2014, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 48 states had not brought per student higher education spending back up to pre-recession levels, and the average state was spending 23% less per student than before the recession. Earlier this year, Young Invincibles released a report card grading states on…

Platform Partnerships

President, Campus Compact|
May 7, 2015

Those of us whose work focuses on connecting higher education with the needs and opportunities in communities spend a lot of time thinking about partnerships. We don’t get anything done except through partnerships. If faculty and staff ever thought colleges and universities could act unilaterally for community benefit, that view is, fortunately, mostly extinct. There is a consensus that universities need to work with partners who possess community knowledge, relationships, and the credibility that comes with both. A lot has been written about university:community partnerships. The bulk of published work on partnerships focuses on what might be thought of as…

An Observation About the Mission of Higher Education

President, Campus Compact|
April 29, 2015

You will often hear people speak about the tripartite mission of colleges and universities: teaching, research, and service. I think that way of describing the mission of higher education institutions reflects a basic misconception. Colleges and universities exist to serve the public. That is why all public and non-profit private universities are publicly subsidized—either directly or through tax exemption. Colleges and universities do not, in other words, have three missions. They have one: service to the public. They achieve that mission through teaching and research. That is why we should constantly ask how effectively the teaching and research of our…

The Priority of Democracy for Campus Compact

President, Campus Compact|
April 27, 2015

Campus Compact is a network of extraordinary internal diversity. We comprise 34 state and regional Compacts and 1100 member institutions across the United States and beyond. Our members are public and private, two-year and four-year, graduate and undergraduate. One result of that diversity is that it can be difficult to understand what Campus Compact is. When you look at us in action, you see us doing a lot of different things. There is a natural tendency to reduce us to those activities. So some people might think Campus Compact is a service learning organization. Others might think we are a…

From Hope to Action

President, Campus Compact|
April 23, 2015

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, so I haven’t had a chance to turn many of my recent thoughts into posts. I hope I will be forgiven for a response to a piece from nearly two weeks ago. I’ll try to compensate for untimeliness with brevity. In a short opinion piece published on The Upshot, the data-informed section of the New York Times, the Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan expresses ambivalence that so many of this spring’s Harvard economics graduates will pursue careers in finance that focus on making money without producing social value. Mullainathan points out that financial expertise…

On Wisconsin

President, Campus Compact|
April 21, 2015

One of the many pleasures of my job is traveling around the country seeing the inspiring work of our state and regional Campus Compacts and the faculty, staff, and students of our member colleges and universities. Last week, I was in Madison for the annual Wisconsin Campus Compact Civic Engagement Institute. It was a daylong gathering featuring an intriguing keynote address by Ed Morrison, founder of Strategic Doing, located at Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development. I had the opportunity to sit down with chancellors and presidents, participate in the introduction of WiCC’s talented new executive director, and cheer along…

Campus Compact’s Thirtieth Anniversary

President, Campus Compact|
April 21, 2015

“In the face of growing complexity and danger in the problems facing American society, there are clear signs that self-interest is undermining public interest. There is todaya dangerous mismatch between the country’s urgent need for civic mindedness and the parochial attitudes of its citizens. The intense demand for economic, social, and political renewal requires a far greater sense of public purpose.” Those are the opening lines of the background information provided to attendees at the first meeting of the Coalition of College Presidents for Civic Responsibility, held at Georgetown University in January of 1986. By the end of that year,…

Are College Graduates Prepared to Support their Alma Maters?

March 18, 2015

In recent weeks, public universities across the country have found themselves buffeted by political forces. In Wisconsin, Louisiana, Illinois, and North Carolina, budgets have been cut, longstanding missions questioned, and centers closed. In states that have attracted less attention, the story is not all that different. In May of 2014, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 48 states had not brought per student higher education spending back up to pre-recession levels, and the average state was spending 23% less per student than before the recession. Earlier this year, Young Invincibles released a report card grading states on…

The Skills to Make Local Change

President, Campus Compact|
February 24, 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week about Dartmouth’s effort to fight back against its culture of binge drinking and sexual assault. The pessimism among students about the likelihood of success reminded me of conversations I had with students when I was working at Princeton. I was co-teaching a seminar on social entrepreneurship, in which the students were developing proposals to do things like end global poverty. They were all quite confident that they could lead systemic change to produce major impact.  Inspired in part by the work of Bringing Theory to Practice, I opened a conversation one day with…

Fostering Student Success Across the Education Continuum

President, Campus Compact|
February 17, 2015

A new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania paints a clear picture of how deeply economic inequality is integrated into higher education in the United States. The report shows that 18-24 year olds from the top income quintile are nearly twice as likely to enroll in post-secondary education as their counterparts from the bottom quintile. Young people from the top quintile are more than eight times as likely as young people from the bottom quintile to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24. In 1970, those in the top quintile…

Student Civic Learning Depends on Institutional Commitment to Change

President, Campus Compact|
February 9, 2015

On Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to deliver the closing keynote at the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values at Florida State University. The Dalton Institute is an annual gathering of students, faculty, staff, and administrators who care about preparing college students for lives of effective public participation. The theme of this year’s institute was, “Widening Inequalities: Educating Students to Be Fair and Equitable in the World They Will Lead.” Ever since Aristotle, philosophers and social scientists have understood that exemplars make a difference: If you see your parents acting justly, that’s likely to have a big impact…

Response to Rankings

January 28, 2015

KerryAnn O’Meara wrote a very informative comment in response to my post on rankings. I encourage you to take a look and join the conversation. Read it here.

Helping Community Colleges Succeed

January 26, 2015

Following President Obama’s call for free community college, there has been much discussion of the role of community colleges in increasing access to college and improving our society. Predictably, opponents of the president’s proposal have pointed to low completion rates to support the claim that community colleges are a lost cause. The facts don’t support the conclusion. Compared to other institutions of higher education, community colleges disproportionately serve socioeconomically vulnerable and underprepared students. If you focus on graduation rates for this population, community colleges end up looking pretty much like four-year colleges. Claims that for-profits do better with the same…

What is to be done about rankings?

President, Campus Compact|
January 20, 2015

Join me in a thought experiment. Let’s start with the premise that colleges and universities—those that are publicly funded and those that receive a public subsidy through tax exemption—should serve the public. From there, we can conclude that rankings should reward colleges and universities that serve the public well (even if they also reward other things). How do our current ranking systems do? Before answering, I want to note that rankings are on the agenda for people who care about the public purposes of higher education all over the world. I was recently at the Talloires Network Leaders  Conference in South…

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