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A Farewell Assessment: Higher Education After Six Decades

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On the campus of The Ohio University. ASSOCIATED PRESS My first published analysis of some dimension of higher education occurred during the administration of John F. Kennedy. 11 men have been U.S. president since. The pace of my commentary on higher education rose to new heights in 2018 when I began to write five or more blogs monthly for Forbes . As with nearly everything, though, diminishing returns are setting in —it is increasingly difficult for me to formulate thoughtful new insights on America’s colleges every few days. So Forbes and I have amiably agreed to stop this regular writing arrangement.

Let me make some observations on how higher education has changed since my initial involvement in it as a student well over six decades ago.

First, higher education has gone from being a wildly popular and rapidly growing sector of the economy to being one perceived as stagnant or declining, with sharply diminished public support. Around 1960, politicians won votes by promising to expand state universities and increase their funding; that is rarely the case today. In the 1960s, the proportion of Americans in college doubled; in the last decade, it declined.

Second, the non-teaching dimensions of higher education have become […]

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