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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thinking About the Future of Higher Education

-Tom Mathison, FAIA
Principal, Higher Education Group Leader

I recently returned from a national conference of the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), held in Minneapolis. I enjoy SCUP, and this conference brought some interesting presentations to expand our thinking. In particular was a plenary address by Mark Milliron, from the Gates Foundation, who delivered an address called “An Optimist’s Education Agenda”.

He brought forward the following as issues ahead:

  1. The transmission of intergenerational poverty (transmitting poverty from generation to generation to generation) is at it highest point ever. Education is the single biggest disruptor of this cycle.

  2. We’ve doubled our access to higher education, but half of all college students drop out before earning a credential.

  3. 68% of the top quartile students from college-going families earn a degree by age 26, compared to just 9% of first-generation students from the bottom quartile.

  4. Over the last generation the U.S. has moved from being first in educational attainment in the world to being 10th. Overall education attainment is now projected to decrease for the first time in our history.

  5. Billions of dollars are spent on activities that never lead to a credential. Worse yet, millions of students are trying but not succeeding.
As creators of environments and spaces that have the power to inspire, motivate, communicate, and educate, we have an obligation and a great responsibility to help students and higher education institutions leverage their investment in facilities to maximize their benefit to students and communities.

Here is a reading list from that same presentation at the SCUP conference. Happy reading!

The Next 100 Years (by George Freidman)

Hot, Flat and Crowded (by Tom Friedman)

The Next Hundred Million America in 2050 (by Joel Kotkin)