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Higher Education in America is a landmark work--a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of Higher Education in America is a landmark work--a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of American higher education today. At a time when colleges and universities have never been more important to the lives and opportunities of students or to the progress and prosperity of the nation, Bok provides a thorough examination of the entire system, public and private, from community colleges and small liberal arts colleges to great universities with their research programs and their medical, law, and business schools. Drawing on the most reliable studies and data, he determines which criticisms of higher education are unfounded or exaggerated, which are issues of genuine concern, and what can be done to improve matters. Some of the subjects considered are long-standing, such as debates over the undergraduate curriculum and concerns over rising college costs. Others are more recent, such as the rise of for-profit institutions and massive open online courses (MOOCs). Additional topics include the quality of undergraduate education, the stagnating levels of college graduation, the problems of university governance, the strengths and weaknesses of graduate and professional education, the environment for research, and the benefits and drawbacks of the pervasive competition among American colleges and universities. Offering a rare survey and evaluation of American higher education as a whole, this book provides a solid basis for a fresh public discussion about what the system is doing right, what it needs to do better, and how the next quarter century could be made a period of progress rather than decline.


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Higher Education in America is a landmark work--a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of Higher Education in America is a landmark work--a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of American higher education today. At a time when colleges and universities have never been more important to the lives and opportunities of students or to the progress and prosperity of the nation, Bok provides a thorough examination of the entire system, public and private, from community colleges and small liberal arts colleges to great universities with their research programs and their medical, law, and business schools. Drawing on the most reliable studies and data, he determines which criticisms of higher education are unfounded or exaggerated, which are issues of genuine concern, and what can be done to improve matters. Some of the subjects considered are long-standing, such as debates over the undergraduate curriculum and concerns over rising college costs. Others are more recent, such as the rise of for-profit institutions and massive open online courses (MOOCs). Additional topics include the quality of undergraduate education, the stagnating levels of college graduation, the problems of university governance, the strengths and weaknesses of graduate and professional education, the environment for research, and the benefits and drawbacks of the pervasive competition among American colleges and universities. Offering a rare survey and evaluation of American higher education as a whole, this book provides a solid basis for a fresh public discussion about what the system is doing right, what it needs to do better, and how the next quarter century could be made a period of progress rather than decline.

30 review for Higher Education in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Raetz

    Derek Bok is a significant figure in higher education and many parts of this book display his extensive experience and depth of thought about the field. The book has several shortcomings, however, that disappointingly limit its stature and usefulness. For example, in a chapter called "The Expanding Audience of Higher Education," you would expect Mr. Bok to cover topics like adult learners, nontraditional students, international students, and the many other groups who've expanded the body of Derek Bok is a significant figure in higher education and many parts of this book display his extensive experience and depth of thought about the field. The book has several shortcomings, however, that disappointingly limit its stature and usefulness. For example, in a chapter called "The Expanding Audience of Higher Education," you would expect Mr. Bok to cover topics like adult learners, nontraditional students, international students, and the many other groups who've expanded the body of students served by higher education. Nope. He spends almost the whole chapter talking about the very small handful of elite colleges who have built campuses overseas in the Middle East and China. This bias toward elite privates (where he spent his entire educational and professional life) permeates the book and he gives short shrift throughout to other types of institutions, which educate the vast majority of students. He mentions them, but not usually with any depth. I understand the "write what you know" phenomenon, but this isn't acceptable in a book that presumes to be about all of higher education in America. Mr. Bok is a talented writer and almost everyone will learn something from the book, so that's why I gave it three stars. I'm just frustrated at the lost opportunities to talk about where most college students are educated.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gary Lang

    A comprehensive and intense book that describes the entire process of HigherEd from top to bottom, including its historic development and its current state. A basic text recommended to me by a colleague when I came into Blackboard and asked to be educated about education.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Stilley

    This survey is comprehensive in scope but does not dig very deep. The group of those who might benefit from this book is fairly small -- primarily new administrators or board members who need an overview of higher education. After having read this 496 page book, I came away with no action items and without being able to identify even one thing that I learned from it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Harvard is apparently ruled by economism, not just during the Summers presidency.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Mcconico

    Higher Education in America is a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most-respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of American higher education today. At a time when colleges and universities have never been more important to the lives and opportunities of Higher Education in America is a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most-respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of American higher education today. At a time when colleges and universities have never been more important to the lives and opportunities of students or to the progress and prosperity of the nation, Bok provides a thorough examination of the entire system, public and private, from community colleges and small liberal arts colleges to great universities with their research programs and their medical, law, and business schools. Drawing on the most reliable studies and data, he determines which criticisms of higher education are unfounded or exaggerated, which are issues of genuine concern, and what can be done to improve matters. Some of the subjects considered are long-standing, such as debates over the undergraduate curriculum and concerns over rising college costs. Others are more recent, such as the rise of for-profit institutions and massive open online courses (MOOCs). Additional topics include the quality of undergraduate education, the stagnating levels of college graduation, the problems of university governance, the strengths and weaknesses of graduate and professional education, the environment for research, and the benefits and drawbacks of the pervasive competition among American colleges and universities. Offering a rare survey and evaluation of American higher education as a whole, this book provides a solid basis for a fresh public discussion about what the system is doing right, what it needs to do better, and how the next quarter century could be made a period of progress rather than decline.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne Russell

    Bok speaks from years of experience plus recent, diligent research about the challenges facing higher education in America. His methodical approach to categorization, definition, problem scoping and evidence gathering makes for a well-reasoned consideration of our current state of affairs, but not a very compelling one. There is a lot about this book that rings of a retired President's chance to finally answer all of the whining and haranguing he heard about his profession throughout his career. Bok speaks from years of experience plus recent, diligent research about the challenges facing higher education in America. His methodical approach to categorization, definition, problem scoping and evidence gathering makes for a well-reasoned consideration of our current state of affairs, but not a very compelling one. There is a lot about this book that rings of a retired President's chance to finally answer all of the whining and haranguing he heard about his profession throughout his career. In particular, he painstakingly picks apart the sweeping generalizations of common complaints: university faculty are too liberal, university faculty are too busy researching to teach well, college curricula does not prepare students to serve the needs of the economy, and research faculty have succumb to commercial interests. He also addresses some issues that seem to be his own personal axes to grind- coming out against "superfluous" athletic, teaching hospital and global education programs. This book has plenty of value as a reference and resource, thorough to the point of pedantic.

  7. 5 out of 5

    UChicagoLaw

    "The two-time former President of Harvard (and former Dean of its law school) has written the most comprehensive analysis of the problems facing higher education in years. The book and its copious annotations is destined to become the authoritative text for higher ed researchers for decades to come." - Michael H. Schill

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joe Sabado

    What a long book! The author touched on issues one typically reads about higher Ed issues including the quality of undergraduate education and decreasing graduation rate. It also talked about issues with research and the commercialization of it. There's not too many mention of student affairs which is a bit disappointing. This book is very detailed but you could just read the foreword/afterword of each chapter to get the gist of the author's POV.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Baranowski

    Derek Bok most definitely knows his stuff when it comes to higher education in American. If you're looking for a broad survey of the higher education landscape, this might be the best single book around. Just don't expect to be thrilled with the writing. If you're a professor, there's probably little for you here, aside from the exercise you'll get rolling your eyes at some of Bok's suggestions about how to improve undergraduate teaching.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vlad Wielbut

    I have read 25% of the book and I do not know whether I am going to continue. So far I have not learned anything new, and the writer's style is too dry to keep me engaged. This was an unusually expensive book for a Kindle edition and I regret that I did not buy a hard copy version, so that I could donate it to my public library.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    It's a good overview of the challenges and successes of higher education today. But it was much longer than it needed to be.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Hines

    Required reading for those of us in academia, but at 400 pgs of tiny type most probably won't make the time!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    See review at http://edsteffes.me/2013/10/09/higher...

  14. 5 out of 5

    ACRL

    Read by ACRL Member of the Week Donald A. Barclay. Learn more about Donald on the ACRL Insider Blog.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    An excellent explanation of the higher education system set up

  16. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    Extremely interesting read for those who work in higher education.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Don

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sam Ortiz

  19. 4 out of 5

    DKA

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sabra

  21. 5 out of 5

    Math

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrés

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Harrison

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

  26. 5 out of 5

    J.Christopher Proctor

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Frischmann

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ploszaj

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Wade

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe

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