Blueprints for Reform

The university system in the United States has accomplished a great deal of good, but it has strayed from its chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching, especially in the past 20 years. All too often, universities allow teaching to become shallow and trendy, failing to challenge students intellectually and disparaging traditional principles of … Continue reading “Blueprints for Reform”


How UNC Can Save Money Post-COVID-19

UNC has announced its intent to reopen all 16 campuses this fall with in-person instruction. But the system will have to make significant changes before moving forward. Jenna A. Robinson and Sumantra Maitra released a new policy brief for the Martin Center describing some of the financial changes that universities can make to survive and … Continue reading “How UNC Can Save Money Post-COVID-19”


Emerson’s Vision of the American Scholar

Editor’s Note: This is an abridged version of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The American Scholar, a lecture he gave to Harvard’s Phi Beta Kappa Society in 1837. This is the third of a Martin Center “History of Higher Ed” series where the Center will republish overlooked writings that shaped American higher education. In the light of … Continue reading “Emerson’s Vision of the American Scholar”


Our Hopes for Higher Ed Reform in 2020

As priorities shift in the minds of higher education leaders and students, it’s important to take stock of recent changes on the local and national levels. At the Martin Center, we have our eyes on some reforms at the top of our list for 2020: Jenna A. Robinson, President More Colleges Experimenting with Income Share … Continue reading “Our Hopes for Higher Ed Reform in 2020”



The Idea of a University: When Trustees Turn a College into a Commodity

Editor’s Note: This article by Randolph Bourne, a writer and public intellectual, was originally published as “The Idea of a University” in The Dial on November 22, 1917. This is the second of a Martin Center “History of Higher Ed” series where the Center will republish overlooked writings that shaped American higher education. In September 1917, … Continue reading “The Idea of a University: When Trustees Turn a College into a Commodity”


What We’re Reading: Western Culture, Groupthink, and Queer Criminology

Jenna A. Robinson, President Jacques Barzun’s magnum opus, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, has been a revelation—of my own inadequate history education. As the title says, the book covers 500 years of Western culture from 1500 to (almost) 2000. Barzun organizes the book around four important “revolutions:” religious, monarchical, liberal, and … Continue reading “What We’re Reading: Western Culture, Groupthink, and Queer Criminology”


The 20th-Century Idea of a Cultivated Man

Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from the 1910 introduction to The Harvard Classics by Charles W. Eliot, a long-serving president of Harvard and an advocate of a liberal arts education. In light of its wisdom about the value of the liberal arts and Eliot’s goal in making the classics accessible to every American, the … Continue reading “The 20th-Century Idea of a Cultivated Man”


University of North Carolina System 2019 Fact Sheet

The latest publication from The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, “University of North Carolina System 2019 Fact Sheet,” provides information on enrollment, tuition, graduation rates, student debt, and more for schools in the UNC system in an “at-a-glance”-style brochure. The fact sheet also examines significant trends in tuition rates, funding, and faculty, administration, … Continue reading “University of North Carolina System 2019 Fact Sheet”


What We’re Reading: A Defense of the University, Governance Guidebooks, and a Higher Ed Satire

Jenna A. Robinson, President In March, Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay penned “A Principled Defense of the University” for Areo. Coming from two of the authors of the “Sokal Squared” publishing scandal, it’s an important disclaimer: Grievance studies are not representative of the whole university. In the essay, the authors explain why they believe … Continue reading “What We’re Reading: A Defense of the University, Governance Guidebooks, and a Higher Ed Satire”