By Jim Thorp
On Nov. 3, professor and president emeritus Bob Bruininks delivered the 2011 Louise McBee Lecture in Higher Education, entitled "Public Good: The Road to Renewal for American Higher Education," at the University of Georgia's Institute for Higher Education.
According to Bruininks, the decline of U.S. higher education documented in reports like 2008's Rising Above the Gathering Storm is the result of a lack of a long-term national vision or policies to advance the education and innovation needed for the 21st century.
Unlike past eras, in which public policy and public sentiment were more unified around the value of higher education and scientific discovery, today both policy-makers and the American public are questioning higher education's value proposition and the fundamental purpose and value of public research and land-grant universities.
Bruininks presented five dilemmas facing U.S. public research and land-grant universities and outlined steps toward a new national vision for developing human capital and encouraging innovation that builds upon the best traditions of the Morrill Act of 1862 and other landmark higher education policy decisions. His remarks form the preliminary thesis of a foundational paper for the upcoming Center for Integrative Leadership conference on creating public value across sectors in 2012.