An Educational Compact for the 21st Century
In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences established a committee co-chaired by myself and Mary Sue Coleman, the former President of the University of Michigan, to carry out a comprehensive study of public higher education in the United States. The Project is entitled "The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher education". The committee consists of former politicians such as Kay Bailey Hutchison and George Miller, business leaders such as Bob Haas, Tom Siebel and Patrick Doyle, former public and private university presidents and chancellors, data experts and educational experts. The study has led to a number of dramatic conclusions including the fact that state disinvestment in public higher education is a national phenomenon and probably irreversible because of forces beyond the control of state legislators. In order to guarantee that the United States will continue to have world leading public research universities which are accessible to the entire population, not just students from privileged backgrounds, a new compact for the support of public higher education is required. This compact will involve symbiotic partnerships between the federal and state governments, corporations, foundations and philanthropists, the universities and their students. We will discuss specific actions by each of these sectors and specific state and federal government legislation which will enable our public universities both to excel and to continue to retain their public character.