1st Edition

Guiding the American University
Contemporary Challenges and Choices

ISBN 9781138889279
Published October 8, 2015 by Routledge
208 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

American higher education is under unprecedented pressure, beginning with the public funding and student debt crises and extending to inadequate performance in student retention and growing global competition. Respected educator and scholar Peter N. Stearns breaks down the underlying problems, exploring the most contentious issues for university leaders and administrators today. Guiding the American University covers the major facets of university operation—administration, faculty, and students—and discusses what should be changed and what should be preserved. Covering major topics for debate and real problems facing American higher education today—including the tenure system, online learning, administrative bloat, and campus culture—this book is a critical resource for aspiring and current higher education administrators. Research-based and stemming from a range of case studies, this book’s insightful and fresh recommendations serve as an important contribution to the conversation on the future of American higher education.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Introduction: Crisis and Opportunity

Chapter 2: Universities on Trial

Chapter 3: Essential Strengths: from Defense to Offense?

Chapter 4: Shared Governance

Chapter 5: The Administration: "Dark Side" or Positive Force; or Both?

Chapter 6: The Faculty

Chapter 7: Students and Their Services

Chapter 8: Beyond the Campus: Regional and Global Roles

Chapter 9: Adding It Up: "The University of the 21st Century"

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Peter N. Stearns is University Professor and Provost Emeritus at George Mason University.



"Stearns provides a much-needed insider perspective and balanced consideration of both criticisms and defenses of public higher education. His experience and wisdom is evident throughout. He has illuminated the dialogue on several controversial topics such as faculty tenure, online course delivery, and the cost of a college education. Students of the administration and delivery of public higher education would do well to thoroughly digest his analysis."

--John H. Frederick, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Texas at San Antonio


"Stearns shares a unique angle on the key issues that higher education faces in the United States. His combined experiences as scholar, university administrator, and global observer allow him to see the complexities of higher education from an innovative and informed standpoint. Stearns takes a visionary approach to untangling the complexities of higher education., making his book a necessary read for institutional leaders and practitioners."

--Francisco Marmolejo, Tertiary Education Global Coordinator, The World Bank