The Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States

The Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States

The Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States

The Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States

Excerpt

WHEN THE Commission on Financing Higher Education began its research program in 1949 the members insisted that their interest in financial problems must not be considered too narrowly. As our studies got under way and as more and more information was obtained from college and university presidents, one factor became increasingly evident: A major reason why institutions of higher education have experienced difficulty in obtaining the funds they need from state legislatures and private benefactors has been the widespread ignorance of what higher education is, how it developed, and what it tries to do. It would be reassuring to report that this lack of knowledge is confined to those who have never attended college and that it is rapidly disappearing as more and more persons in our population have at least some experience with the work of colleges and universities. Much of what we have learned indicates that there is no such cause for optimism. There is reason to suspect that many college students and faculty members have never thought broadly about the historical evolution or the basic purposes of the institutions of which they are a part.

If thoughtful citizens are to be concerned about the financial well-being of higher education, they must believe in its goals and methods. They must know something of its peculiar historical growth. They must understand the scope of the work it does and why men both today and in years gone by have put great faith in its values. Perhaps it would be useful, too, to realize the limitations of higher education, the things it is not. The higher learning is not synonymous with life, it is not the whole of man's activity. But it has been a feature of Western civilization since the Greek masters gathered their . . .

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