“Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts College,” a collection of essays by college presidents and other leaders in higher education, features a chapter authored by Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. The book was inspired by a conference titled “The Future of the Liberal Arts College in America,” which President Tiefenthaler and the other contributors attended at Lafayette College in April 2012.
A fundamental question the book asks is “In light of rapid environmental changes and increasing calls for higher education to make access to college more affordable and to do more to prepare students for specific careers, what is the role of the American residential liberal arts college?” The question takes on global significance as the American educational system, and liberal arts colleges in particular, are emulated throughout the world as interest in “American-style” higher education grows.
Contributors define the American liberal arts college model, describe the challenges these institutions face, and propose sustainable solutions. President Tiefenthaler’s chapter, titled “Economics and Affordability,” is co-authored with the president of Vassar College and the vice president for finance and treasurer at Swarthmore College. Colorado College President Tiefenthaler holds a Ph.D. in economics from Duke University and teaches a popular course on the economics of higher education. The course will again be taught in Block 5, which begins on Jan. 20.
“A liberal arts education has never been more relevant, as study after study shows,” Tiefenthaler said. “Today’s liberal arts graduates are best prepared to thrive in an ever-changing world. At Colorado College, by building on our Block Plan’s tradition of engaged teaching and learning and our culture of innovation, we are positioning the college to best educate the next generation of learners.”
In “Remaking College,” Tiefenthaler and her co-authors begin by presenting economic and financial data on the higher education sector in the United States and discussing the challenges it faces. They then present data on the challenges selective liberal arts colleges face. They conclude by discussing possible policy responses – some that can be adopted by liberal arts colleges, others that are more appropriate for different types of institutions (community colleges; public two- and four-year colleges and universities; private non-profit colleges and universities; and the rapidly growing for-profit sector) and some that could be imposed on colleges and universities.
Among the highlights of the essay:
- Colleges today are in enormous transition from the pre-2008 higher education financial model
- Between 2009 and 2020, total enrollment in higher education is expected to increase 13 percent
- This growth is expected to include a 45 percent increase for Hispanics, a 25 percent increase for both black students and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and a 1 percent increase for students who are white
- The enrollment of first-generation students is expected to increase by 11 percent
- The value of a college degree is illustrated by the fact that a college graduate earned 64 percent more than a high school graduate in 2011 in median weekly earnings. This reflects today’s earnings gap, the highest since 1915, the first year these estimates were tracked and shows that a college degree is key to economic mobility
The essays in “Remaking College” explain the current challenges for liberal arts colleges and consider the opportunities afforded by technology, globalism, and intercollegiate collaboration. By exploring new ideas, offering bold proposals, and identifying emerging lessons, the authors consider the unique position these schools can play in their communities and in the larger world.
The book, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press and scheduled for released in early December, is available for immediate Kindle download and pre-order on Amazon.