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”


Reforming Higher Ed in 2021

The year 2020 brought changes that colleges would have never made by choice. Enrollment declines, remote classes, and dramatic employee cuts (for faculty and some staff alike) were unthinkable a year ago. But, for the sake of the future, more work remains. Below are some priorities the Martin Center staff would like to see catch … Continue reading “Reforming Higher Ed in 2021”


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”