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De Lange VIII: Trapped in an Ecclesiastes Moment: Why Universities Find It So Hard To Do Things Differently

February 27, 2012 by Robert Zemsky

De Lange Conference

The Future of the Research University in a Global Age

February 27-28, 2012

Session II, moderated by Paula Sanders, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs; Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies; Professor of History, Rice University

Speaker: Robert Zemsky, Professor, Graduate School of Education,University of Pennsylvania; Chair, The Learning Alliance for Higher Education

Abstract

In the 1980s all the elements for a national reform agenda were in place. Understanding why higher education didn't move forward then is a prerequisite for understanding the inertia that holds higher education hostage today. The most obvious cause is that faculty have demonstrated little zest for change. Twenty years ago Henry Rosovsky bemoaned the loss of the social contract that once bound faculty to their institutions. Since then, few have thought through how faculty might better discharge their obligations in a fundamentally changed world. Less obvious is a regulatory environment that seeks control over institutions. The result a host of dysfunctional regulations that increase costs, freeze processes, and create a looming sense that to change is to invite unwanted scrutiny.

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