Criticizing American universities — plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

How true is the following diagnosis of contemporary higher education?

higher-education“During the past twenty years the leading universities of the country have changed markedly in form and function … All tend to suffer from similar and unexampled difficulties. They spend huge sums and are desperately poor; their students attack them; the neighbors hate them; their faculties are restless; and the public, critical of their rising fees and restricted enrollments, keeps making more and more peremptory demands upon them.”

Except that for the quotation the contemporary is 1968. It’s taken from Jacques Barzun’s widely-read The American University, published forty-four years ago.

Source: Review of Jacques Barzun’s The American University (Harper and Row, 1968) by Robert Hessen for The Objectivist, November 1968, p. 555. Thanks to Marsha Enright for the pointer.

One thought on “Criticizing American universities — plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  • December 9, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Jacques Barzun was one of the most impressive scholars of the 20th century, also a great teacher who was prepared to turn to senior management of Columbia University. There has been no better commentator on education at all levels in addition to his historical and cultural studies. This is a sketch of his career and some of his major publications

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