When I picked up this book by Richard Vedder, Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America, I generally knew what to expect because I had read much of his work in op/eds and essays over the years and we had met and exchanged views when we both were contributors for several years to the blog SeeThruEdu managed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. But upon digging into it, I was struck by its comprehensive treatment and well-researched analysis of the wide range of problems facing higher education in America and how much sense he makes about what to do about them. Here is a hint of the prime culprit from the introduction to the chapter on governance: “There is a remarkable consensus among many observers of higher education that the system of governance is broken….almost every contemporary issue facing higher education is impeded and frustrated by a hundred year old system of governing practices that desperately needs modification.” Truly, this is an industry in need of a considerable dose of “creative destruction” and, as Jason Riley wrote, “Vedder has spent decades warning that this will not end well. If you want to understand how higher education came to this crisis and how it can be fixed, start with this book”.
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