My response to John Simpson's, president of the University at Buffalo, SUNY, article Framing the Conversation on Research Universities (Inside Higher Ed. 7/2/2010.) may be as simple as Americans seek avenues to enjoy life and sustain a certain lifestyle. They do not embrace a craft/vocation to the benefit of the larger community/culture/society. Why should they? What larger meaning, purpose, and direction has been offered, nurtured, sustained for them by K-12 education, mass media, local communities, family? Note: Living in rural Lancaster County, PA, I am struck by the fact that there has never been a time when all Americans have sought after the higher education.
Yes, the 1862 Morrill Act/Land Grant College Act was a great step forward for our nation which provided an educational opportunity for many. But the individualistic foundations and mass media focus of our larger culture are hard to shake. Higher education should continue to address these concerns through special summer programs and increased partnership with K-12 education. But their strongest investment should be in relationships with parents, educators, local school boards, libraries, etc. In the end, transformation occurs on the local level where word/narrative and example come together ... but what narrative do they have to offer? Quite frankly, U.S. prosperity, security, and global competitiveness in the 21st century is not the narrative for my family. Time for us to start writing out our family's narrative/mission/core values, for some of my personal narrative visit here
Two additional items:
- a significant boost to higher education in the 20th Century was war, not just weapon production, but also the GI Bill and the surge of draft avoidance through the piling on of degrees.
- research institutions extend beyond Land Grant Colleges. A topic for another day.
Well, it's out there, of my chest. As you can tell, it's not a complete thought. Challenge it. Help me refine it.