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Sep 8, 2009 8:12 pm

Exploring Academia

I have written a little essay to commemorate my three-year anniversary as head of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, which is trying to improve higher education. I have observations both cheerful and disquieting—from the discovery of a Great Books faculty “remnant” to the proliferation of what I call academic chit-chat. I thought of calling my voyage of discovery “Three Years Before the Mast,” but it turns out that “before the mast” describes the badly treated common sailors of the nineteenth century. I am supposed to be in charge of this expedition.

One of my fundamental findings over the past three years was learning who is in charge of higher education. In a nutshell, there is a vacuum, and students, parents, and taxpayers need to fill it. The great thing about higher education in the United States is that it is competitive. But that means caveat emptor.

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