Transforming Education.

New Models for Status Quo Universities

Is it possible to create a new type of public university, where professors and administrators make clear promises to their students and deliver an exceptional education at a reasonable cost? 

It’s not only possible, it’s a reality at the University of Minnesota–Rochester, where Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle has shown that a results-oriented approach to education can help graduates lead more meaningful and productive lives at a fraction of the cost of a traditional university.

Another extraordinarily successful results-oriented model is the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, a school that since its founding in 2002 has become one of the best undergraduate engineering schools in America

Like the University of Minnesota-Rochester, the Olin College of Engineering has eliminated academic departments and makes “learning how to learn” as important for faculty and students as delivering technical skills:

“How can you possibly provide everything they need in their knapsack of education to sustain them in their 40-year career?” [Olin President Richard] Miller asked. “I think those days are over. Learning the skill of how to learn is more important than trying to fill every possible cup of knowledge in every possible discipline.”

Kevin Carey, author of the Washington Monthly article on the University of Minnesota–Rochester and policy director of Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington, D.C., recently wrote another piece in the left-of-center magazine The New Republic titled (improbably enough) “Rick Perry is a Higher Education Visionary. Really.

By setting politics aside in the article—quite rightly—Carey makes a strong case that reforming higher education is really a battle between forces defending the status quo of university bureaucracies and those seeking more student-centered institutions.  

Institutions like the University of Minnesota-Rochester and the Olin College of Engineering are just a few of the new results-oriented models that promise far better results to students, parents, taxpayers, and, yes, even hard-working teachers and researchers who care about advancing the lives of students and the frontiers of knowledge. 

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