1st Edition

Who Killed Higher Education? Maintaining White Dominance in a Desegregating Era

By Edna Chun, Joe Feagin Copyright 2022
    266 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    266 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Who Killed Higher Education?: Maintaining White Dominance in a Desegregating Era offers a probing and unvarnished look at the causes of the substantial state defunding of public higher education over the last six decades. With the pandemic and cuts to social services, these challenges have only deepened, especially creating real dilemmas for first-generation, minoritized students seeking to complete a college education.

    Through extensive analysis of trends in public higher education funding, the book documents and lays bare the ways in which elite, neoliberal decision-makers launched a multi-pronged and attack on public higher education. It highlights the confluence of the enrollment of an increasingly diverse cohort of students in college with the efforts of conservative white legislatures to diminish funding support for public higher education.

    Who Killed Higher Education? is an important resource for students in courses on higher education, and diversity in education. It will also provide instruction for boards of trustees, institutional leaders, faculty and key campus constituencies in developing long-term strategies that ensure the access and success of a diverse and talented student body.

    Introduction  1. The Link Between Higher Education and Democracy: A Long History  2. Neoliberalism as a Dominant and Destructive Discourse: Diminishing State Support for Public Education  3. Political-Economic Stealth Agendas: The Koch Brothers and Their Allies  4. Political-Economic Stealth Agendas: Edward Blum and Robert Mercer  5. The Perils of Academic Capitalism for Public Higher Education  6. The Pandemic and Beyond: Implications for Higher Education’s Future  7. Moving Forward: Recommendations for Change


    Edna B. Chun is an award-winning author and human resource and diversity leader with extensive experience in complex, multi-campus systems of higher education. She teaches in the Human Capital Management Department in the Columbia University School of Professional Studies and is chief learning officer for HigherEd Talent, a national diversity and human resources consulting firm. Two of her co-authored books were the recipients of the prestigious Kathryn G. Hansen Publication Award by the national College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. She is also coauthor with Joe Feagin of Rethinking Diversity Frameworks in Higher Education.

    Joe R. Feagin is Distinguished Professor and Ella C. McFadden Professor at Texas A&M University. Author of more than 70 books, he has conducted extensive. internationally recognized research on U.S. racism, sexism, and urban issues. He is the recipient of the American Association for Affirmative Action’s Arthur Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Sociological Association’s Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award.

    "Who Killed Higher Education? is the book that I wished I had as a graduate student. This one text helps clarify the obfuscation of elite white men who shaped and undermined the higher education system for all but those from their ilk. Chun and Feagin have accomplished this goal immensely and unapologetically. This book will be required reading in at least two of my classes."

    William A. Smith, Professor and Department Chair of Education, Culture, and Society; Professor of Ethnic Studies, The University of Utah

    "With Who Killed Higher Education?, Chun and Feagin present a bold, insightful examination into how state and federal legislation have defunded higher education thereby reinforcing a dangerous 21st-century version of segregation. Theirs is an expertly and deeply researched investigation into the ways in which racial/ethnic and economic diversity in higher education is intentionally undermined by conservative legislators."

    Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD, Northwestern University, Vice President & Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion

    "As colleges became more racially diverse and Republicans controlled more state governments, public funding for higher education declined dramatically and higher education narrowed its focus to neoliberal training. Chun and Feagan convincingly tie the current crisis in higher education to the long history of U.S. systemic racism, from the founding of colleges and universities to the defunding of public universities and the rise of for-profit colleges by racially motivated white legislatures and racially exploitative entrepreneurs." 

    Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of Relational Inequalities (2019) and Documenting Desegregation (2012)

    "Edna Chun and Joe Feagin have written a must-read book, which takes the reader through issues such as state support for funding, segregation, politicking, academic capitalism, democracy, and the impact of the COVID pandemic. It’s an absolutely insightful read, especially for higher education academic programs and professionals."

    Christine A. Stanley, Regents Professor of Higher Education, Texas A&M University