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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2006

The True Genius of America at Risk: Are We Losing Our Public Universities to de Facto Privatization?

Katharine C. Lyall & Kathleen R. Sell. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2005; 232 pp; ISBN: 0-275-98949-6, paper $44.95 us.
A perfect storm of fiscal and political trends is rapidly forcing the privatization of America’s public universities. Unless those who care about preserving these public assets redefine the core purposes of public higher education, college will quickly become a very difficult goal for lower-income citizens to achieve, and the economic future of America will suffer as a consequence. To help avoid this crisis, Lyall and Sell have opened a candid public policy discussion about the future of public universities. This is the only book-length treatment of public higher education finance at the beginning of the 21st century that looks comprehensively at state experiments and dilemmas, and attempts to envision possible future paths. The authors describe market forces that are eroding the traditional partnership between states and public universities, and explain how the search for new revenue sources is refocusing the basic goals of these institutions. Through their focus on the past and future of public higher education, they manage to clarify what has gone wrong and what can be done to save these American institutions. A number of new state experiments in restructuring higher education governance and organization are summarized and used as models in the work. Both economic and political evidence is also summarized for the reader’s benefit.
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