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What Does Higher Education Have to Learn from World War II?

William G. Tierney

University of Southern California

Over the last century, every societal upheaval has influenced academic life in the United States. The Great Recession of 2008 forced painful belt-tightening. The attacks on 9/11 changed how colleges and universities employ campus security. The Vietnam War created a politically charged climate on campuses.

Of all the societal events since World War II, the pandemic has impacted higher education the most. Campuses have shut down, teaching and learning has been transformed, and budgets have been devastated. …

Lemonade from Lemons: Improving College Preparedness After the Pandemic

The pandemic has created short and long-term challenges for low-income first generation college-bound students. These challenges, however can be a springboard for opportunity. We have the ability to improve college preparedness if high schools, colleges and universities are willing to disrupt business as usual and work together. A crisis creates opportunities.

The challenges are distinct from the challenge middle- and upper-class students face. …

Below the Salt: Academic Work in the 21st Century

In medieval times to sit above the salt was a place of honor. The saltcellar was in the middle of the table. Persons of distinction sat above the salt, closer to the lord and lady of the house. Lowlifes sat below it; they were people of low social position.

Professor Smith, of the University of Paris, clearly fancies that he sits above the academic salt. In his recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education he is equally clear about who sits below the academic salt. He takes Professor Matthew…

Debating Truth

Debating Truth:

Should Academe Invite Donald Trump and his Administrators to Teach and Speak on Campus?

President Trump, and indeed, several of his most senior colleagues are potential candidates for appointment as senior fellows at many colleges and universities. Some on the Harvard and Stanford faculties already have put forward their opinions about inviting such individuals to their institutions. At open letter at Harvard has called for “accountability guidelines” before inviting President Trump or some of his administration to be Fellows or Visitors. Alan Dershowitz, a retired professor, lambasted the idea saying that he would likely not be…

In 1978, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to public office, gave what has come to be known as “ The Hope Speech.”

He began by saying, “Unless you have dialogue, unless you open the walls of dialogue, you can never reach to change people’s opinion.” On Wednesday, we saw the failure of dialogue and, by that failure, the failure of American democracy. At the same time, close to a half million Americans will die from COVID-19. In my own county of Los Angeles, one person is infected every 10 seconds today.

I appreciate that many college leaders…

William G. Tierney

University of Southern California

There are those who say everything will change in higher education because of the pandemic. Doomsday predictions about higher education have been around for over a generation and I see no evidence that all 4,000 postsecondary institutions in the United States will close in the next decade. Some institutions, such as small liberal arts college, are more at risk than others, and we will see roughly 200 colleges likely shutter because of a drop in enrollment and the fiscal crisis caused by the pandemic.

However, long-standing issues are likely to be rekindled either…


University Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California and author of Get Real: 49 Challenges Confronting Higher Education.

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