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A perfect mess : the unlikely ascendancy of American higher education

Author: David F Labaree
Publisher: Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, [2017]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Read the news about America's colleges and universities - rising student debt, affirmative action debates, and conflicts between faculty and administrators - and it's clear that higher education in this country is a total mess. But as David F. Labaree reminds us in this book, it's always been that way. And that's exactly why it has become the most successful and sought-after source of learning in the world.  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: David F Labaree
ISBN: 9780226250441 022625044X
OCLC Number: 956775397
Description: 222 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: A system without a plan : elements of the American model of higher education --
Unpromising roots : the ragtag college system in the nineteenth century --
Adding the pinnacle and keeping the base : the graduate school crowns the system, 1880--1910 --
Mutual subversion : the liberal and the professional --
Balancing access and advantage --
Private advantage, public impact --
Learning to love the bomb : America's brief cold war fling with the university as a public good --
Upstairs, downstairs : relations between the tiers of the system --
A perfect mess.
Responsibility: David F. Labaree.

Abstract:

Read the news about America's colleges and universities - rising student debt, affirmative action debates, and conflicts between faculty and administrators - and it's clear that higher education in this country is a total mess. But as David F. Labaree reminds us in this book, it's always been that way. And that's exactly why it has become the most successful and sought-after source of learning in the world. Detailing American higher education's unusual struggle for survival in a free market that never guaranteed its place in society - a fact that seemed to doom it in its early days in the nineteenth century - he tells a lively story of the entrepreneurial spirit that drove American higher education to become the best. And the best it is: today America's universities and colleges produce the most scholarship, earn the most Nobel prizes, hold the largest endowments, and attract the most esteemed students and scholars from around the world. But this was not an inevitability. Weakly funded by the state, American schools in their early years had to rely on student tuition and alumni donations in order to survive. This gave them tremendous autonomy to seek out sources of financial support and pursue unconventional opportunities to ensure their success. As Labaree shows, by striving as much as possible to meet social needs and fulfill individual ambitions, they developed a broad base of political and financial support that, grounded by large undergraduate programs, allowed for the most cutting-edge research and advanced graduate study ever conducted.

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"[A] course in American higher-ed history that you can hold in your hand."--Chronicle of Higher Education "How did a ragbag of colleges become a towering assemblage of world-class universities? In Read more...

 
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