Harvard Educational Review
  1. American Higher Education Transformed, 1940–2005: Documenting the National Discourse

    Edited by Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender

    Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. 544 pp. $80.00 (cloth).

    In their new anthology, American Higher Education Transformed, 1940–2005, editors Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender offer a judicious selection of documents that highlight important transitions, ideas, and episodes from the last six decades of higher learning in the United States. A follow-up to Hofstadter and Smith’s invaluable two-volume collection of historical documents first published in 1961, the current volume provides educators, researchers, administrators, and policymakers with a multifaceted account of higher education’s development and transformation in the latter part of the twentieth century.

    The editors have assembled 172 documents into twelve topical sections representing “national discussions of the ways, means, and aims of higher education” (xiii). They view the changes in higher education since World War II as an overall trend toward “diffusion, expansion, and differentiation” (9), particularly in institutional responses to issues of access, diversity, research, funding, and competition. These developments form the basis of the book’s organization, with sections addressing subjects such as educational opportunity, curricular debates, academic freedom, disciplines and academic professions, and institutional relationships with government, foundations, and corporations.

    Each document—whether well known, such as the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case, or relatively less familiar, such as Bentley Glass’s 1960 AAUP presidential address, “The Academic Scientist, 1940–1960,” addressing the changing academic and social status of the natural sciences—captures some aspect of the substance and tenor of the discourse around the highlighted issues in higher education. The relevance of the selections and their relation to broader trends are illuminated in the editors’ section introductions. For instance, editors note that the collection in Part I, “The Terrain,” explores the expanding landscape of American institutions and the questions such extension raises. The selected documents reflect ongoing debates over what kinds of institutions and activities should constitute our system of higher education, and what individual and social purposes higher education should serve. The editors have also provided detailed introductions to most of the individual documents, describing the manuscript’s origin and purpose as well as providing a brief bibliography of additional sources for further study.

    Some sections of the volume are especially illuminating. In particular, Part VII, which covers the campus unrest and controversies of the 1960s, benefits from a diverse set of perspectives—from those of the Free Speech Movement’s student leader Mario Savio to institutional inquiry committees to the California Court of Appeals. Together these viewpoints bring to life the complex tensions of the period and the ways in which these events precipitated a reconsideration of the structures and aims of American institutions. Throughout the volume, which does not concertedly address student experiences, the few pieces by current and former students stand out as particularly powerful. Among these are the reflections of James Meredith, the first African American student at Ole Miss in 1962, and quotes from Chicano students in Gloria Cuádraz’s 1993 “Meritocracy (Un)Challenged.” While it remains to be seen whether more noteworthy documents will emerge from the present era, the editors’ selections ably highlight some of the most recent transformations of the higher education system, including the growth of online and for-profit institutions.

    Any anthology will, by design, commit sins of omission. Indeed, Smith and Bender are forthright about their choice to set aside issues of student life, athletics, and budgets in favor of those more broadly related to institutions and their purposes. Nonetheless, readers might regret the absence of documents addressing accountability and financial aid policies—institutional and national issues of historic and current concern to higher education stakeholders. Additionally, the perspectives of elite and selective institutions and those working within them are overrepresented in the volume. The growing prevalence and importance of community colleges and less selective institutions—and the editors’ acknowledged interest in issues of educational expansion and differentiation—suggest that greater attention to this sector of higher education is warranted.

    American Higher Education Transformed, 1940–2005 has been eagerly anticipated by scholars and teachers of higher education. Smith and Bender have not disappointed in producing an enlightening and thought-provoking representation of recent higher education history. This collection will serve as an essential resource to those studying and working in higher education, and it is a valuable reminder of the power of history to enrich our thinking about changes and problems in higher education.

    R.B.M.
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    Abstracts

    Interview with Geeta Rao Gupta, International Center for Research on Women
    Editors
    Free Marketeers, Policy Wonks, and Yankee Democracy
    School Vouchers in New Hampshire, 1973–1976
    Jim Carl, Cleveland State University
    Can Higher Education Meet the Needs of an Increasingly Diverse and Global Society?
    Campus Diversity and Cross-Cultural Workforce Competencies
    Uma M. Jayakumar, University of Michigan
    Modeling Compassion in Critical, Justice-Oriented Teacher Education
    Hilary Gehlbach Conklin, University of Georgia
    Testing the Waters
    Three Elements of Classroom Inquiry
    Pat Clifford and Susan J. Marinucci, Galileo Educational Network Association

    Book Notes

    Realizing Bakke’s Legacy: Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, and Access to Higher Education
    Edited by Patricia Marin and Catherine L. Horn

    American Higher Education Transformed, 1940–2005: Documenting the National Discourse
    Edited by Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender

    Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination
    By Robert A. Compton (executive producer), Adam Raney (producer), and Chad Heeter (director)