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Universities Can't Do Everything

By AAU President Barbara R. Snyder and Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals and former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

Many have chalked up the well-documented decline of public confidence in American higher education to causes like “cancel culture,” or administrative bloat — but the clearest culprit may be the impossible task that university presidents and chancellors have of simultaneously pleasing multiple, often contradictory, constituencies.

Many university presidents and chancellors are given an endless to-do list. Win football games. Lobby politicians for funding. Make statements on everything that happens in the world. Raise the institution’s profile in meaningless rankings. Conduct groundbreaking research. Manage multibillion-dollar endowments. All while also showing up at every campus event.

Somewhere in that list of priorities is the education and welfare of undergraduates, and, while many folks would say it’s the most important goal, many individual groups spend more effort pressing other short-term wants. But it’s time for research universities to get back to the place where the public understands that undergraduate education is a top priority.

Read the rest of the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.