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Readings for March 25th — Higher Education and the Corona Virus

This is a collection of articles in places you already know (Inside Higher Ed, Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times) about how various constituencies in higher education are reacting or coping with the emergence of Covid-19. You have the good(??) fortune to be taking this seminar on higher education in the semester when colleges and universities have been shaken to their core by this epidemic. Where this will end up is, of course, totally unknown, except most are predicting it will materially change higher education in the future. It’s a mess but not a perfect one, I think most would say. I would be interested in getting your reaction as students to both the ideas in these articles and to your own experiences in the past two weeks.

I have organized these articles into three bundles – one about the impact on institutions, another on the impact on students and a short one on the impact on faculty. You can read these relatively quickly — like you would read a newspaper. I would like you each of you to come in with at least two discussion questions or reactions for each of the bundles. We’ll be doing our first on-line course, and I think it might go better if you come armed with some issues we can get started with. I will also be interested to hear about your first post-hiatus week and what has surprised, puzzled or troubled you about your experiences. We are all operating without a map here.

It turns out that I didn’t need to have all your Gmail addresses into Google to invite you to the class meeting. I can just send you an invitation, which I will try to do a bit early, in case I have problems. More on that later.

First bundle:

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Download (PDF, 8.56MB)

Third Bundle:

Download (PDF, 1.69MB)

Prof. Hainline

Assignment for the final paper, some links you can check if you have time

As I had indicated a few weeks ago in an email, your assignment for the final is to design what you consider to be the ideal modern college or university for the future of NY City. It can be public or private. Points to consider/cover (may not be exhaustive)

  • What will your mission/vision for the institution be and what is the rational for this mission? 
  • Is it a public, private or for-profit institution?
  • What kind of governance will you have? 
  • How you will fund your institution?
  • What will your ideal entering student class look like?
  • Will the preponderance of financial aid be merit or need-based?
  • What will your curriculum look like and what kinds of pedagogy would you propose to have your faculty use to teach that curriculum? (Assume that you do not have to fight with accrediting or state agencies about changing any rules about the delivery of instruction.)
  • What kind of credentials would you be seeking for your faculty, and what will they be spending their time doing? 
  • Will you have tenure for faculty or not?  Why/Why not?
  • How will you know if your institution is realizing its mission?
  • How will your institution advance the goal of improving the future of NYC?

You can deal with other questions as well, but you should explain why you are making the decisions you are. The concept is to use the information and analysis from this semester to create your view of the ideal institution of higher education to further the viability of NYC.

Some recent Times and other links (all short) you may be interested in (non-mandatory but timely):

1. Fourth no confidence vote, but John Sexton is holding on:

2. How Cooper Union squandered their endowment and ended up having to charge tuition:

3. How the huge load of student debt is affecting other sectors of the economy:

4. Merit schlarships going up, need-based aid down,

5. Tuition discounting keeps increasing at the Privates:

6. Football coaches and public institution presidents (at least some of them) keep getting higher salaries than others in HE — wonder who pays the costs:

7. And a critique of an article about how to decide who should go to college:



Reading Questions

Do you think admission to a university should include race?

Is affirmative action limiting access to higher education by denying certain students who are not minorities?

Why are less students choosing a liberal arts education?

Is it important for students to be well-rounded and know a little bit about every subject or study a specialized area and know the material in great detail? Should employers hire the well-rounded students, or those who know their subject like the back of their hand?

Are more opportunities available for students with a liberal arts education, or are employers seeking workers with a defined set of skills?

If a liberal arts education serves both the individual and society, should we do away with vocational and trade schools?

Reading Questions for May 1


Higher education has to change. President Obama called for it.


What would you do to change Higher Education?



If there were a way to lower the costs, how would you allocate the funds needed for Higher Education?


Barriers to Innovation in U.S. Higher Education

Higher Education in the US needs to change. Once the leading country in the world in terms of education, America has slipped.

From all of these models and modes of learning and educating (ie regulation, funding, business models, ets), map out a college that will be the example of change. Plan out what model you would follow (ie business, educational, hybrid), what funding you would rely on the most and so on.


Mayo Clinic of Higher Education:

The results from UMR are surprising and rare. An 85-90% passing rate for organic chemistry is basically unheard of amongst CUNY students.


Pinpoint what you think UMR is doing right? List everything that Lehmukuhule has done and where you think UMR needs improvement (ie accepting students with higher SATs and ACTs).


It’s only expensive to create new universities if you use the old model.


How do you the government and higher education as a whole should attack this problem of retaining information, personalized education and graduation rates?


Do you believe that the UMR structure is the structure higher education should follow?



Change is inevitable. But, why is it taking so long for Higher Education to change? Mention everything that you believe to be the reason, even drawing from previous weeks’ readings.

Reading Questions 4/24- Liberal Arts Education

1. Why did Europe shift from a liberal arts education, and why is it now returning to the liberal arts education system? Does this diversify European universities, or make them more basic?

2. How could a liberal arts education fail at promoting critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities that corporations deem necessary for successful employment?

3. Are corporations asking too much from students, and not compensating enough based upon the greater amount of skills being demanded? How has starting salary increased based upon the graduates who attain these skills?

4. Do you think a major is linked to ability to compete in the job market, or is major truly unrelated to what employers are looking for?

5. Are standardized tests able to project the critical thinking and reasoning abilities of students applying to college? If not, isn’t the admissions system flawed at producing students that will be able to develop these skills that are deemed necessary in today’s economy?

Questions for President Guarasci

By Alannah Fehrenbach, Jonathon Farrell, Maryam Razaz and Shivani Sharma.


1. If you wish to improve or increase the involvement of technology in Wagner College, what would that entail and how much of your budget would you be willing to spend on it?


2. What are some of the largest expenses in running a college?


3. What area of higher education, do you believe, can use the most cuts?


4. How can rising student debt affect the landscape of current higher education?


5. Will students still choose to go to expensive private schools, or will public colleges become of greater demand?


6. What percentage of your budget is funded by endowments? What percentage is funded by student tuition?


7. What is the general structure of faculty at Wagner College? On average, what are the salaries of such professors and do you believe the salaries are justified?


8. The president of a University is burdened with two very separate yet important responsibilities, one is to manage the faculty and represent the university where the other is to ensure financial viability. Personally, what do you believe you spend most of your time doing?



1. Has technology been a tool for bringing people together in the college community?


2. How do you see the function of having classes where a professor is physically present changing (or not changing) with regard to the ever-growing presence of online courses and MOOCs replacing the old structure of education?


3. Do you see technology as a channel for research and development while aspiring to create economic and community development with the Port Richmond Partnership?


4. Wagner College is considered to give a “traditional education”; how does the use of technology as both a study-aid and a networking tool fit into this framework?


5. Is it important that professors be tech-saavy? Do you train professors in the newest developments of technology in the classroom?


6. Has multi-media presentation become a new forum of academic expression and educational exploration within the Wagner community? How?



1. How does civic engagement affect a student’s education?


2. How does your institution attempt to foster a diverse student body?


3. Explain a little bit about The Wagner Plan for the Practical Arts. How exactly does it work and how does it change the way your students learn?


4. There are two prevailing theories of why a student should go to college: to get credentials for a career and become a functioning member of society, or to become more of a well-rounded citizen. Do you feel that Higher Education should be more of a public good or used for personal growth?


5. After college graduates go into careers, employers constantly tell colleges that students lack many of the critical thinking skills necessary for being productive members of the work force. How do you propose colleges go about preparing students to be critical thinkers?


6. Earlier in America’s history, high school graduates had employment options that didn’t require a college degree, such as factory jobs and trade professions. Yet with the advent of technology and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, a college degree is becoming increasingly more important to secure any form of employment, despite the fact that there are many students who are ill-prepared by the K-12 educational system for college. With jobs that place a large focus on education and a K-12 system that doesn’t adequately prepare some students, how do you propose we deal with those students who aren’t adequately prepared for college?


7. Wagner College’s mission “emphasizes scholarship, achievement, leadership, and citizenship,” but what makes the college’s mission truly different from that of any other private liberal arts college?



1. Being an educator at Wagner College for almost 20 years now, who do you believe deserves to attend this college? Do you feel that the college will implement new changes in the next 10 years as higher education seems to keep changing and evolving?

2. What are the main criteria for admission into Wagner College? What type of students are you looking for?

3. Being a private institution, does Wagner College give more scholarships based on need or on merit? In your own experience as an educator, which type of scholarship brings out the most in a student?

4. During your time here, you founded the Wagner Plan for Practical Liberal Arts. In a recent article in the Huffington post, however, you mentioned the need for solutions to fix a community’s set of problems, and better yet the country’s problems. Is your plan your direct solution for emphasizing a liberal arts education and helping the community? May you talk more about more about it?


5. According to the same Huffington post article, you are a huge proponent of the liberal arts system and affordability, but the cost of tuition for Wagner College is nearly $50,000 dollars. How does the university make its higher education more accessible to its students?

6. Being a college that was founded way before CUNY was, were there any changes that Wagner made during the 1960s when affirmative action made a groundbreaking step in New York City? If there were changes, do any of them still exist today?

7.   There is more and more of a desire among students to have a job-oriented education and to solely take the classes they think are needed to gain the specific set of skills they need for their future job. Thus, students have less of a focus on receiving a broad set of skills and rather study just for this class. Your plan here completely annihilates that. Students will graduate with both the broad skills and the specific set of skills needed in the work field today. May I ask how your plan came to be? Does this stem from your belief that universities should aim to provide their students with a well-rounded education? Has there been a successful rate of your graduates getting a job straight out of college?


8.   Where does academic freedom apply at a private institution? Is it only present in a classroom or does it include other campus activities?


Reading Questions 4/24

Jobs, Value and Affirmative Action: A Survey of Parents About College

The perception of college has more and more shifted to that it serves a single purpose: to get a student a well-paying job. Is that why you are in college?

Did your parents significantly affect which college you chose to go to?

Liberal Arts Education (Wikipedia Article)

Why do you believe that other countries have started to adopt this way of teaching, specifically in Europe? Do you believe the delay in starting this way of teaching was because they did not want to return to a Medieval way of learning?


Center of Inquiry

Do you believe that a liberal arts education should be available to everyone?


“What we don’t know about the effects of liberal arts education far outweighs what we know.”

Being a student who has a liberal arts education, do you believe that this statement is true? Do you believe that a liberal arts education would have a profound effect on its students?

Survey finds that business executives aren’t focused on the majors of those they hire and Percentage of Employers Who Want Colleges to “Place More Emphasis” on Essential Learning Outcomes

Companies are looking for a specific range skills. The percentages also show the distribution and intensity of this range. Do you believe that this is the main reason why liberal arts education could come back into demand? Provide other reasons why this way of learning could come back.


Not For Profit

Parents are apparently ashamed of their children having literature and art majors. Humanities and art classes are continually being cut out from institutions. A liberal arts education, also, is more and more being associated with the wealthy elites. If we make the liberal arts more affordable to all, will its demand rise? Will more students opt for a liberal arts education?


Again, being a student who has a liberal arts education, do you believe that a liberal arts education has profound effects on its students?


Liberating the Liberal Arts

Colleges are being perceived more and more these days as being not worth it, among other things. Solutions such as not raising taxes have been proposed as to stimulate a greater response to college. Propose more solutions.


Guido Sarducci and the Purpose of Higher Education

According to one of the article’s readers, “Grades in courses don’t help with personal assessment of learning outcomes.” Is this true? What do you propose to assure that a student has learned all the specific skills he/she needed to learn from the course? The broad, interpersonal skills?


The Death of Liberal Arts

“It’s hard to predict the landscape of the labor market for the next 10, 20, 30 years.” If this is true, wouldn’t a liberal arts education, which creates well-rounded people, be the education to take? Why are career-oriented majors and colleges being followed if they do not produce the desired candidates?


What You (Really) Need to Know

This article hints that it is not really what you teach but how you teach it, especially in higher education, which will truly influence the student. Have your professors ever used impractical methods for you to learn the material?


Liberal arts colleges rethink their messaging in the face of criticism

“Students in pre-professional majors aren’t challenged in the same way as students in liberal arts disciplines.” Using your own experience and the evidence embedded in this article, defend or argue against this statement.


The Third Way

Macaulay offers us both a liberal arts education and the opportunity to intern basically anywhere. With the implementation of “3/2” programs, and ones similar to it, that integrate a liberal arts education and internships, how would higher education change? Do you believe this to be a positive or negative change? Draw from both these articles and your own experience.


The Economic Value of Liberal Education

Both “broad set of cross-cutting capacities” and “specific job skills” are desired in potential job candidates. So, why aren’t the liberal arts more revered or taken up by students? Use this article and all of the previous ones to answer this question.