Studies of the politics of higher education have been written from various perspectives, so we should specify here at the outset the orientation and concerns which guided our work. Social change, which has so dominated the American experience historically, includes ascensions and declines of an array of interest collectivities. In postindustrial America, one prominent ascension involves intellectuals, together with a large segment of the population associated with the application of trained intelligence. Advanced technology and science makes extraordinary demands upon the intellectual community for skills necessary to its utilization, maintenance and, above all, its extension or further elaboration. With about 25 percent of the adult population now having been exposed to formal higher education, and with nearly one‐ third of all current high school graduates going on to earn at least a bachelor's degree, the potential audience for the communication of abstract ideas dwarfs that of all prior historical-societal experience. An elaborate structure for the communication of ideas—from the more than 2,500 colleges and universities on through the print and electronic media—contributes further to the central place of intellectuals and their apprentices.
Some additional statistics, general though they are, help to round out this picture of a major transformation and ascension of a social collectivity. In 1973, the number of teachers exceeded 2.7 million, with 600,000 in institutions of higher education. More than 8 million students were enrolled in degree-credit programs within the country's colleges. Over 1.5 million persons were employed as natural scientists and engineers. Some $30 billion were being spent annually for scientific or technological research and development. And Americans were expending in excess of $52 billion for public primary and secondary schools, along with about $25 billion for higher education. 1____________________