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April 18 , 2009

The True Genius of America at Risk

Are We Losing Our Public Universities to De Facto Privatization?


A perfect storm of fiscal and political trends is rapidly forcing the privatization of America's public universities. Unless those who care about preserving these valuable public assets redefine the core purposes of public higher education, college will quickly become a very difficult goal for lower-income citizens to achieve, and the economic future of America will suffer as a consequence. To help avoid this crisis, Lyall and Sell have opened a candid public policy discussion about the future of public universities. This is the only book-length treatment of public higher education finance at the beginning of the twenty-first century that looks comprehensively at state experiments and dilemmas, and attempts to envision possible future paths. Lyall and Sell describe market forces that are eroding the traditional partnership between states and public universities, and explain how the search for new revenue sources is refocusing the basic goals of public universities. Through their focus on the past and the future of public higher education, the authors manage to clarify what has gone wrong and what can be done to save these valuable American institutions.

A number of new state experiments in restructuring higher education governance and organization are summarized and used as models in the work. Both economic and political evidence is also summarized for the reader's benefit. The authors demonstrate how the interaction between recent trends has driven unintended consequences. Chapters in the book stand on their own and can be used selectively in courses, and appendix pages provide thumbnail summaries of individual issues. Higher education leaders, governors and legislators with education and economic development agendas, and statewide education governing boards should all find this book to be of strong interest.
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