What I learned from The Innovative University, Part 1: Context

In a previous post I mentioned the book, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and co author, Henry Eyring, an administrator at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Given the current challenges to U.S. higher education today, this thought provoking book is definitely worth reading and discussing.

This is especially true in my home state of California renowned for its Master Plan for Higher Education that for many years guaranteed a high quality, low cost college/university degree for every citizen of the state. (As a first generation college graduate who earned her BA and MA degrees at California State University campuses, I am a grateful beneficiary of the “Plan.”) Now, in 2011-12, with base tuition exceeding $12,000 per year at University of California campuses and close to $5,000 per year at California State Universities, the notion of “low cost for all” hardly applies.  Student tuition fees now exceed per student state allocations (as in true in many states in the U.S.) Affordability is an issue.

Accountability is also an issue. The number of reports, commissions, initiatives, laws, and regulations related to assessing various outcomes of higher education has proliferated in recent years. Some include the Spellings Report,The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Voluntary System of Accountability, National Survey of Student Engagement, The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), University of California’s annual accountability reports, not to mention regional accrediting bodies and other state and federal regulation.

The good news is the U.S. higher education system remains the envy of the world. In virtually any ranking of universities globally, U.S.-based institutions dominate the list.

The Times Higher Education (UK), 2010

This very brief context is the foundation of The Innovative University. The main question to me is: How can U.S. higher education maintain its unquestioned quality while also improving affordability while better measuring our outcomes and results?

To be continued . . .



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