Questions of who will govern and how authority will be exercised pervade the history of American higher education. Such questions were particularly pressing before there was a clear distinction between public and private colleges. In this article, Jurgen Herbst traces the evolution of college governance from the early eighteenth century, when church and state exercised joint control, to the mid-eighteenth century, when religious, secular, and political tensions strained the effectiveness of that model. In the face of increasing ethnic and religious diversity in the colonies and amidst the breakdown of the alliance between ecclesiastical and secular interests, a more pluralistic model of college governance began to emerge. Professor Herbst examines the turmoil in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, which, by the end of the eighteenth century, culminated in a new distinction between private and public higher education.
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