[APPLAUSE] Well we thank you collectively for that vote of confidence. Seems to me, you're very generous to applaud before our discussion begins.
I'm Frank Rhodes and I'm very happy to welcome all of you to this celebration of Cornell's sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the granting of the charter to the university. We're especially glad to have the panel discussion that today represents.
And in it, we want to explore four or five questions that are fundamental to the present health and the future success of higher education. They come from not just Cornell, but every major university. And we're especially glad to have Drew Gilpin Faust with us, the president of Harvard. We welcome you.
Next to Drew is Hunter Rawlings, who served as president from 1995 to 2003, and then as interim president for a year. He's now president of the Association of American Universities in Washington, and we're delighted to welcome him back home. Hunter.
Jeffrey Lehman, on my far right, is the vice chancellor of the New York University Shanghai University. He is welcomed back. He served as president from '03 to '05, and we're delighted to welcome you back, Jeff.
Good to have you here.
And David, on my right-- David Skorton-- our present president, is leaving us at the end of the semester to become the Secretary of the Smithsonian. He joined us in 2006. And David, we thank you for the wonderful leadership you've given and we wish you all success and that new role. Thank you.
I should also add one more thing. We are going to be joined later on by Beth Garrett, President-elect. She is provost of the University of Southern California and she will lead us into the next 150 years. So later on she'll be joining us.
With that, let me introduce the questions. And in each case, the panelists will share the questions. But one or two of them will kick off the discussion. Now university presidents are known for many qualities, but brevity is not one of them.
And we have a long list of questions and a limited amount of time. So we're going to be brief, however long that may take.
The first question is this. Is the traditional model all a four-year, residential, baccalaureate degree begun at age 18 still appropriate? How will online learning and books and other similar educational offerings influence the outcome? Can we usefully combine those traditional methods of learning with newer methods of learning? Jeff, why don't you start us off on this one?
Yes and no.
So I think, without question, it's still the case that students finish high school and they're not quite ready to begin adult lives of satisfaction and contribution. They need to acquire more knowledge, they need to develop more skills, they need to nurture certain human virtues that are important.
And I think it is important for us to be reflective, as universities, about what bundle of knowledge, skills, and virtues are most important for life in 2020, 2030, 2040-- the lives that our students will be living. And I think we have to ask the question, to what extent does technology enable us to do some of these things better than we've done them before?
And I think the answer is quite a bit. And to what extent is technology somewhat irrelevant to our ability to prepare students in this way? And so I would say that, for example, there are certain bodies of knowledge that are enormously important. Students need in-- as we enter what is sometimes called the Second Machine Age-- they need to be numerate, they need to be familiar with science, they need to be effective in the understanding of how computers are changing life going forward.
And much of that knowledge can be acquired through the use of technology-enhanced education. And I would just give a plug to eCornell as one of the best platforms I've ever encountered for technology-enhanced education. But there are certain virtues of authenticity, of humility, of integrity, of the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures that you can't learn online. You can't learn them on Skype.
You need a residential environment where you are forced-- every day-- to interact intimately with people who come from a very different world view, to learn how to disagree. To learn how to hold opposing ideas in your mind simultaneously, this capacity that we call negative capability. We need to give students an opportunity to do that. And there's no better place than a residential environment.
Thank you. David, would you like to comment?
I would, briefly. If you could put up the first PowerPoints. No--
Just to keep it interesting, not that it's not already fascinating, I want to offer some counter point. I obviously believe in the residential college experience. I've been involved in it for 35 years, and that's not counting my own college experience.
But there's a couple things that I think we have failed to do in higher education that would be more convincing that what President Lehman said is correct. One is I still don't think we precisely and accurately enough evaluate student learning outcomes. And I think it has to be done by the faculty, perhaps done within disciplinary areas.
For example, the humanist faculty should decide what makes sense in those disciplines, the life science faculty in those disciplines. But we tend to take the attitude that we know what's best and we use important-- but gross-- measures like graduation rate, completion rates, which at these type of schools are astronomical. So they're not good differentiators.
So I think if the professoriate could develop generally accepted, peer accepted, measures of student learning outcome, it would be easier to take those measures and then apply them to the different approaches. And then we'd sort of know which worked best and which didn't.
In general, of course, I agree with Jeff. And even if I didn't, I wouldn't be so boorish as to do that right here. Although it's tempting. I mean, what are they going to do, fire me? At this stage--
The second thing is I think there's one potential change that might occur that could or could not involve technology. And that is so-called competency-based education, in which one could-- on one's own-- acquire knowledge, skills, whatever the attributes might be, and prove that one has them based on some sort of standardized evaluation. And then move on to the next stage of education based on affirmation of skill acquisition, as opposed to the number of hours, days or semesters spent in a residential college experience.
We wouldn't go to an attorney who didn't pass the bar, we would go to a physician who didn't pass the board. So standardized tests in professional schools are commonplace for a long time. But there are arguments now about competency-based education challenging the residential experience. And the University of Wisconsin system, for example-- very distinguished system-- now offers competency-based degrees as a tiny part of the offering of an otherwise residential experience. So a couple thoughts.
Thank you, David. Any brief comments?
I just was thinking-- as you were coming at this question from the point of view of the 18-year-old-- I was thinking about the question from the point of view of a university. And how-- even though I completely affirm the importance of the residential experience and the varieties of ways of reinforcing it that you described-- if we think about the university as a whole, I think we're going to be seeing that that 18-year-old will need to come back. Maybe as a 28-year-old, maybe as a 32-year-old, maybe as a 48-year-old.
Lifetime learning is going to take on much more significance. So that this initial phase will just be the initial phase. And that universities are going to be orienting themselves much more explicitly towards that extended period of knowledge and education that in the 21st century, I think, everyone is going to be hungry for.
Thank you, Drew. Let me move on. And I hate to do this because I know there is more that could be said here. But we've got five questions and limited time. And I'm going to invite Hunter and Drew-- Hunter Rawlings and Drew Faust-- to talk about the second question, to introduce it.
Is the present funding model for universities viable over the long term? Are the changes that we're seeing in state and federal and private funding going to need rethinking? Do you see a changing balance between public and private universities, between online learning and for-profit providers? What do you see as the future balance there?
I don't think, actually, it is viable for the longer term. I think we've reached pretty much the limit with this approach. Over the last few years, as most of you know, states have withdrawn their support for public universities to the point where now they're essentially private universities. And the idea that higher education was a public good has almost disappeared in most states. And now it's a private interest and the students are supposed to pay virtually all of the costs.
There are legislators in some states in the West whose avowed aim now is to reduce public support for their state's universities to zero. They don't want to provide a cent from the state. And they think that students and others should make up for this. So that has turned our enterprise, I think, into a private interest.
And you look at for-profit schools, which are also mentioned in the question, and I think they've reached their limit. That is, the public finally now knows that many for-profits-- not all, but frankly, many-- abuse students. And they abuse the federal loan process by offering an education that's, frankly, inferior, where most students don't graduate. And their business model is based on federal support.
So I think we've pushed this private model about as far as it can go. I also think that the sticker price today at many of our universities, including this one, is so high that much of the public has trouble getting past the first sentence of an argument. I lose the argument after the first sentence. When you simply state the sticker price. Even though I can explain many things about the price that make that reasonable, given all the support for it.
So I for one-- and I could spend a lot of time on this, but we have short space-- I think we've pressed this to the limit.
Thank you, Hunter. Drew?
When I think about how we fund Harvard-- and it's very like the way David and his allies and trustees, and so forth, figure out how to fund Cornell-- I think of three major buckets. One is tuition. And tuition grew astronomically in the past several decades. We're not going to be able to continue that kind of rate of growth. Both because of financial pressures on families and also-- which would mean families would be excluded from participation in our institutions if we continue to raise tuition at that rate.
It's also tremendous public scrutiny about tuition that puts a lot of pressure on us from Washington, from the president himself, from the wider public. So I think we're going to see much more moderate tuition increases. And we all have embraced enormous increases in our financial aid. And we are supporting students at much higher levels. So this is not going to be a big source of revenue for us in the future.
The second element is endowment income. And again, we've seen a kind of stock market expansion in the '90s and early 2000s that most investors that I'm familiar with do not expect to see again. And so I think we are-- most of us-- planning for much more moderate increases in endowment income.
And then a third element in the operating budget for Harvard and others is the income from the federal government for the support of scientific research. And this is a key part of what supports science across the country and supports science in institutions like Harvard or Cornell. It's about 17% of our budget at Harvard. But if we look at Harvard's biggest funder, which is the National Institute of Health-- part of the federal government-- its resources have declined over 20% since 2003.
So we're seeing less support for science. We've actually seen a decline in recent years in what we receive from the federal government to support science. And this is terrible. It's terrible for the whole scientific enterprise of the nation. It's terrible for young scientists who are trying to get the grants that are necessary to launch their careers.
Just to give you an example of the impact of this, young scientists seeking the NIH RO1 grant, which is-- in the life sciences-- is the launching grant. It kind of identifies you as someone who is going to manage to make it into a career as a life science research scientist. Individuals used to get that grant in their low to mid 30s. Now they get their first grant of that kind at age 42, on average.
So you can see the kind of impact this has. We are turning to more private support for science. And in fact, that has increased. And I think that is a message to all of us. We are going to have to think about this model that the two of us and just said is impossible, and figure out new ways of addressing it.
We were just in Washington together last week and I think there's a little bit of a mood change on Capitol Hill about emerging bipartisan support for scientific research. So maybe we can improve the situation there a bit as our government leaders recognize how critical it is for American competitiveness, which is always very much on their minds. But we are all, I believe, struggling to figure out how to put this mix of revenue streams together in ways that will enable us to bring the most talented students and faculty, to support them, and to create an environment of intellectual inquiry and success.
Thank you, Drew.
David or Jeff?
Yeah. I just want to add a tiny addendum to the eloquent things that Hunter and Drew have said. And that is in the non-science areas-- especially the non-life science and non-physical and engineering sciences-- I think the lack of availability of even federal money-- even right now-- is putting those disciplines at great, great risk.
I'm just old enough to recall, and I know that Drew-- because of her distinguished history as a humanist, as a historian-- remembers the days when the National Endowment for the Humanities supplied $0.70 on the dollar of external support for humanities scholarship. It's gone so far down now that private foundations-- like the Mellon, for example, which has been very generous-- has taken over the leadership position.
And so I'm agreeing with it and sounding a little extra alarm about the country becoming a little too STEM oriented. A little too STEM oriented. Not that it's not important vocationally and quality of life and so on. But the STEM disciplines are the areas in which, perhaps, we're seeing a little glint of light in Washington. I'm not seeing that same glint of light for the social sciences or the humanities.
Disciplines-- as a physician, I can tell you you just don't help people based only on science. It has to do with relationships, it has to do with understanding communication, all those things that supplement the sciences. And I'm very, very worried about that. Not much we can do as individual universities, except to remember them in philanthropic terms. But that's the only minor addition I would make.
Thank you very much. Jeff, any comments?
I just wanted to add to what David just said about this question about STEM and the humanities. There's an economist named Ed Phelps, who just wrote a book called Mass Flourishing, which I recommend to everyone. Which is very thoughtful about what the skills really are that are necessary for the next stage of the economy. When routine work, even routine cognitive work, is going to be done more and more and more by machines that have artificial intelligence capabilities.
And in this world, the key skills include things like ideation, the ability to come up with brand new ideas. And the clear evidence, when you talk to great scientists, is that these skills can be best developed through the study of the humanities. We just lost Mike Abrams, who I'm really sorry could not be here to celebrate the sesquicentennial.
But even at the age of 100, he was showing us how the study of a poem can change over time. And how we can keep returning to the same set of data, the same poem, and see new things through the lens of our own experiences. And this is the process of ideation. It is coming back and looking at the same data again and again and again. And finding that you can see it in new ways.
And the study of the humanities really can help us to be more effective in working in this new age, which seems to be so technological.
Thank you, Drew.
I think it's clear, Frank. We should spend the rest of the afternoon talking about the humanities. It's clear that that's what everyone wants to talk about. And that's fine with me.
And I just want to-- just to aggravate you more, Frank. Instead of going on to question three. Those of you who had the privilege of knowing Mike Abrams would know on a day like this, despite the distinction of this crowd, he would have preferred to go to a football scrimmage than to be here.
That is for sure.
Thank you, David. Just for that, I'm going to get you to be the first to answer the next question.
Let me restate that, then.
Let me ask the question, are the traditional departments-- which are based on disciplines, things-- arrangements that have really lost their value? The individual departments control faculty appointments, they control admissions to some extent, space, curriculum, graduate programs. Are they an obstacle to the future effectiveness of universities? What, if anything, should be done or could be done? What might replace them? David.
Frank, I'll thank you not to ask difficult, unanswerable questions in front of our peers. But since you have-- so this is a tough one. And it depends on which perspective one takes, like a lot of things. Faculty-- this is going to be a shocker. But I'm the President, so I'm here to educate you-- faculty are people, too.
And people need support mechanisms. They need compatriots, they need cohorts, they need confederates. And traditional departments give faculty in a certain disciplinary area intellectual and, to some extent, emotional support to use techniques of study. To use ways of learning, ways of ideation, as Jeff so eloquently said.
So from that perspective, you'd have to think that some sort of grouping of people who are like-minded, or who use similar ways of discovery or inquiry, makes some sense. Now if we flip it and take it from the point of view of the learner, or from society, it doesn't really make any sense at all. Because problems that need to be solved do not line up in clean disciplinary areas. They come at you in any given way.
And I've thought about this and failed to do anything creative about it in all these years in higher education. Until just the last couple of years. And those of you who know about our experiment in New York City with Cornell Tech-- that's a graduate campus, albeit this is a question oriented toward undergraduate education. But that campus is set up without departments.
And Drew, I don't know if I've had a chance to tell you this. It's set up along areas of study that we're calling hubs. And these were picked to be areas where we think entrepreneurship would be helpful for the city of New York.
So it's a very economic development-based organization but there are no departments there. The faculty have their homes in departments in the larger university, but the campus itself is run as a committee of the whole based on these areas of concentration.
It's too soon to know if it works or not. It's an experiment. And we'll know, I don't know, five years from now, something like that. And the students will tell us if it makes sense.
But there is one example of trying to do something based on the problem to be solved. And pulling in areas of expertise-- fabric, strings, from different areas and weaving a fabric to put the whole thing together. And we'll find out.
Thank you, David. How do you see this one?
Well it is a tough question. I look at it from two different points of view and I get two different answers. For the faculty, I think, this is the best system. It's what the faculty's used to, it enables them to be present as a group in a discipline.
I take my own as an example. Classics is a discipline. You have to learn Latin and Greek. There are standards. There are agreements, so to speak, in the field that make it a strict discipline. That works best when you have a faculty that meets the requirements, so to speak, of the discipline.
For students, however, as undergraduates, this system has real weaknesses. Because unfortunately, the faculty spend much more time worrying about their own discipline than they do about the undergraduate experience of a student in arts and sciences, for example.
And some universities are actually very poor at having their faculty discuss, in a serious way, what an undergraduate should be learning and what the undergraduate curriculum should be. And I don't except Cornell from this. I don't think Cornell has been at its best in determining the undergraduate curriculum in that large college.
Harvard can speak for Harvard, and I think has probably more often, at least, had the faculty really address itself to that question. Most faculty members, to be honest, don't want to discuss that question in public. Because they know they will have a very difficult time reaching agreement. So I could go on at great length about this but let me stop there.
Drew, any comment?
I'll stay away from this one.
It's amazing. It's amazing how grown, adult leaders live in fear of Frank Rhodes. It really is. It's quite striking. I mean, what could he do to us, really?
Quite true, quite true. Well that's very disappointing, I was hoping--
I was hoping for some light. But-- all right. Let me turn to the next question. And this one, especially, is aimed at something where Jeff is an expert.
Is the growing internationalization of universities something that we welcome? Is it something that should continue and expand? Or is it something that weakens the on based campus mission of the traditional university? How do we see that one? Jeff, you've firsthand experience of this. How do you see it?
Well I think it's useful to separate out the different styles of internationalization that we are seeing in higher education. The most ambitious kind of internationalization of a university is what I refer to as the formation of a transnational university. Or it's sometimes referred to as a global network university. Where a single university has more than one full degree-granting campus in more than one country. Students enter in different places, they study, they circulate around, and then they come back.
There are going to be very few universities that go all the way to that model. There will be slightly more universities that follow Cornell's lead, with our specialized campus at the Weill Cornell Medical School in Qatar. There you will see more and more institutions, I think, deciding that it makes sense to have a particular discipline, a particular course of study, for a particular purpose in another place.
But that tends to have relatively little impact on the home institution. I think the internationalization that we're seeing at every great university right now is taking place on the home campuses. Where we're seeing more and more students from all over the world coming to study. When I was a student at Cornell 40 years ago, we thought it was great that, for the most part, Cornell's undergraduate student body looked like America. That was considered to be a relatively diverse university experience.
I think we are on course to the moment where-- maybe in a few decades-- most universities will say, our university undergraduate community looks like the Earth. And I think that will be a dramatic change. And I think it's welcome.
I think that globalization is one of the two most important phenomena of our time. It's irreversible. We are an interdependent world. Interdependent economically, culturally, even politically now.
And I think in that world, it's tremendously important that while people are college students-- when they are developing most rapidly-- they have the opportunity to interact with people who grew up in different cultures. To learn about cultural similarity and difference. To have the chance to fight with their roommates about things that they didn't think people would fight about. And to get over it. And to see that they can get over it. And to develop these critical skills.
I think that right now most American universities are not doing a particularly good job at taking advantage of the opportunities that come with diversity. Diversity creates an important and enormous learning opportunity for students. But that only happens if students actually engage when they're here. And there is, unfortunately, not enough ebb and flow.
It's scary to be in an environment with people who are not so much like you. And it's natural-- it's human nature-- to say, I'm going to be with people who are familiar to me. But the opportunity that's here is to stretch yourself. And so, really, students need to be encouraged and helped to have in their day an ebb and flow between the familiar and the more challenging and the more different.
And I think there's too much self-segregation right now by nationality on American universities. And I think most universities are working hard to think about how that can change so that students get the full benefit of attending a diverse institution.
Thank you very much. David, any comments?
Well it's hard to imagine adding much because not only has Jeff thought about this a lot, but he's lived it. The only nuance that I would just reinforce-- coming at it slightly differently-- is that I believe we need to do a better job throughout American higher education in urging, or maybe insisting, that our students have meaningful international experiences. And preparing them for those experiences, in terms of understanding the language, understanding culture.
Partly under both Hunter and Jeff's leadership here, we developed the China Asia Pacific Studies major, in which students-- over the course of a couple years-- become quite proficient in Mandarin. And then spend half of the third year, Drew, in Washington-- at the Cornell in Washington program. And half of the fourth year at Beida, speaking the language, understanding it, and so on.
But that's almost the exception that proves the rule that we've had less and less money available for languages. Less and less time in the curriculum. The student is studying, , say engineering. How does one pull out of a very rigorous engineering curriculum-- where every moment is accounted for, so to speak-- and be able to go have a meaningful international experience? Let alone prepare for the experience.
So I think paying more serious attention to having incentives and removing disincentives for meaningful international experiences would be great. And then-- once again harking back to the points about affordability-- how do we do that without breaking the personal bank, so to speak?
I'm struck by continuity between what David was speaking about-- in response to an earlier question-- and the import of internationalization for universities. And that's the issue of, how do I solve a problem? I have a difficult problem I want to solve. I want to combat Ebola. I want to combat climate change.
You have to ask these questions beyond nation's borders. It is not contained-- the problem is not contained-- in a single national entity. Or at least very few are.
So just as a student wants to go beyond a single department or discipline in trying to-- or a researcher, a faculty member-- beyond a single department to solve a problem, I think, increasingly, both our students and faculty want to have the broader landscape of the world on which to explore the things that matter. So I think there's a kind of inevitable momentum about this in the very issues that we address as the substance of our work.
Here, here, here.
So I'll just tell a quick story. I was on campus yesterday meeting separately with three classics colleagues. Because I'm not on a campus in Washington, and coming to Cornell and having time to spend with colleagues-- I'm trying to write a couple things and they're the best critics possible.
So each one of these three classics faculty members mentioned a sophomore who's taking Greek and Latin here at Cornell. And said, we have this extraordinary student. And she's from Italy. And her Greek and Latin are quite wonderful.
And I said, well how did she get here? There aren't many students from Italy at Cornell. Turns out, you can count them on one hand, I think, as undergraduates.
Well she had spent her junior year at a high school in Portland, Maine. Had done more Latin there than she had done back in Italy. She happened to do Latin in Portland, Maine with a teacher who had gotten his degree in classics from Cornell. And he's a very good Latin teacher.
And he said-- of course-- to her, if you're thinking about an American university, you might think about my alma mater. So she came to Cornell. She's a sophomore. She's, for the most part, in graduate courses in Greek and Latin.
And she's more than holding her own. And I asked, how's her English? And they said, well it's better than the other students' English. So that's not an issue.
So I had lunch with this student today. Because I thought, you know, here's this amazing student. And I just want to tell you-- in 30 seconds-- it's quite a pleasure to meet a student who's paying the full price-- whose parents are paying the full price-- at Cornell and who's grateful for the opportunity. She's working here in order to earn some money towards this. But her parents are paying the full price.
And she said, the universities in Italy, frankly, just aren't very good. And the university here has opened up my eyes to every possible thing. We actually critique literature. We're not told what to think. We get to put our oar in the water.
So she's having a remarkable-- I mean, quite remarkable-- experience as a sophomore. Taking mostly graduate courses with graduate students. That's the kind of university Jeff's talking about.
It's not just Chinese students who are coming in very large numbers. But there are students like Emma. So I find this the new world. And it's quite a nice world.
That's a wonderful story.
David and Drew. Do we give financial aid to students who want to study abroad or to students coming from abroad who may want to come to Cornell or Harvard? Is any of available?
Harvard awards financial aid to international students on exactly the same basis as to domestic students. And we also are very grateful for some generous gifts from alumni that have made it possible for us to support international experiences for students who are not able to have the financial means at their disposal with their families or themselves. So we feel very privileged to have this possibility.
I wish we had been able to achieve that at Cornell. We have a couple of rays of light in certain areas-- geographic areas-- in which, say, an alum has decided to help us bring students from those areas. Undergrads, we're talking about. Otherwise, we have a lack of funds to deal with the need inherent in the international population. Which is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, as Jeff was indicating earlier.
So I wish I could say that we did at Cornell. We really don't. With some exceptions, with some exceptions.
In terms of going the other direction, we've actually been quite costly on what the student family have had to pay to have a meaningful international experience. And are relooking at that now. And trying to reorganize that in a way that makes it-- we've been among the top in our peer group, in terms of cost to the student family for doing study abroad. We're trying to change that.
Very good. Thank--
This is outside of a couple of programs, Drew, that are specific Cornell programs that are taught in concert with an international campus. On the undergraduate, in addition to Doha. So the architecture program is taught in Ithaca, and in New York City, and in Rome.
And we're talking Rome, Italy, folks. Not Rome, New York. Not there isn't great architecture in Rome, New York. But it's just a different thing. But with those exceptions, we fall behind.
Very good. Let's move onto our next question. It's one that I think concerns not just the panel, but all of us.
What do you see as the future prospects for the liberal arts in an age of growing specialization? Is this an issue? Ought we to be concerned about it? How do you view the future? Drew? How do you see it?
This is a matter of enormous concern to me. In part because of public leadership that has declared higher education should be instrumental and measured by first job, salary at first job, or some other economic measure of outcome. But also from a broader anxiety across the population that-- perhaps because higher education is expensive for families, perhaps because of the anxieties in our economic system, especially after the downturn in 2008-- the focus on, what is going to be the vocational outcome of my child's experience and then the child of my experience?
And this is a threat to the humanities. And so I think we can go back to that topic, as Hunter was so eager to do before. But it's also a misrepresentation of how we should study any field on the undergraduate level. I believe that a liberal arts education gives students certain habits of mind, skills at understanding when nonsense is being delivered to them, critical capacities, inventiveness, imagination, curiosity that are going to last a lifetime.
And are going to be, perhaps, even more important in a second or third or fourth job than in a first job. That is our commitment. We need to build people who will be citizens, who will be human beings who flourish in the world, human beings to adapt to a world in which probably none of the jobs that any of us have now will even exist.
And that seems to me what liberal arts is about. Not about, what is your salary going to be the minute you leave Cornell or Harvard or any other institution of higher education? And so I worry a lot about a set of college rankings. David and I have both been involved in speaking about this.
The federal government has been struggling to establish a system of college ratings. And the first proposal was to measure colleges by salary of graduates at first job. And we've been pushing back at this and have gotten it somewhat more nuanced. But it's still highly instrumental in its orientation.
And when it comes out in the fall, David will be down in Washington at the Smithsonian, but maybe we can get him to march across the street and deliver a few words to the Department of Education. We have the two of you. We can send both of you across the street together.
So let me just add a point here that might sound a little surprising coming from me. But I think often people, unfortunately, equate the liberal arts with the humanities. As if a liberal arts education means taking humanities courses. And I hope that's not what you think.
Because a liberal arts education includes the sciences and the social sciences. But physics and chemistry. And I think very often there is this equation made. And it's quite unfortunate. Because I think it loses an important point along the lines that Drew is describing.
A liberal education doesn't mean just taking Shakespeare and Plato. It means a broad education in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. And I think, as Jeff was saying earlier, STEM education is terribly important, but it shouldn't be alone.
So a good liberal education of the kind Drew, I think, is describing, involves all of those disciplines. And that's what students should be getting.
And humanists need to understand something about science. There have been a couple of wonderful Nick Kristof columns. One today where he takes up the numeracy piece, and the first one being the humanistic piece. But they're-- as bookends-- I think they make your point really forcefully.
Thank you. Thank you.
Could I add something?
Yes. Please, David.
Before I talk about the topic at hand, I want to reassure any students in the crowd who want to be a university president some day. When President Faust said, you know, these jobs won't be around, these jobs will still be here. Because people always want folks to dress up like this and do panels. And so I-- if you want to be the next Jeff Lehman, you can do it. Because they're always going to need panelists. Just want to clear that up.
Can I just put in a joke, please?
I just can't resist. There is a review of-- in today's New York Times. I drove here today and so I had many hours as I was in the car being driven.
Review of-- to work. To read the paper. David Brooks-- a review of his book today. And he reports in this book that there was a survey done of middle schoolers. And they said they would rather be the personal assistant to a celebrity than to be the president of Harvard.
That's a bit shocking. Because if you don't know, Harvard has achieved full accreditation. It's a completely--
--[INAUDIBLE] institution. I'm amazed about that. If I can comment on the question at hand. And Frank, if it's not apparent, we're trying to use up some time on this question.
So earlier Drew used the phrase habits of mind. And that's really what I think she and Hunter are talking about by-- especially Hunter-- discussing the broad reach of a liberal arts education. But of course you expect us to say that, right? You expect us to say that. Because we all are or have run institutions with a broad, liberal arts base.
But it's interesting that if one asks employers-- even employers in narrow and highly specialized tech disciplines-- they will cite the same habits of mind that Drew was talking about. And they will say that the way to acquire those is through a liberal arts education.
And then the one other thing I want to give just a quick plug to-- Professor Altschuler, in case he's here-- I don't know if he's here. Here he is. He needs a little bit of sunshine during this weekend.
On the issue of the ratings system that was suggested by the administration, Professor Altschuler had a fantastic piece in Forbes a few months ago in which he noted-- I hope I get this right-- that had Columbia University-- Obama's alma mater-- been ranked on what his salary was immediately on leaving there-- when he was a community organizer-- they would have been downgraded. Did I get it right? Approximately? Yeah.
And so it's a very, very important point that, in thinking about the way things are rated, these habits of mind somehow have to be pushed to the fore. And I think the reason that they're not more obvious and people can't get their arms around them is we're not specific enough explaining exactly what those habits of mind are and how you achieve them. And how we measure or assess, in some fashion, quantitatively or qualitatively, have the students achieve them?
If we could get there, it'd be easier to make this argument. Have we wrung everything we can out of number four, do you think?
I think we have. Jeff.
Can I just add one thing?
Just one thing. So I think we have an obligation, as educators, in responding to-- I think Drew was right when she said part of what is going on here is a response to the pressure that is created by the tuitions that we charge. And I think a lot of what we're hearing are parents and students expressing anxieties that are associated with the debts that their students will carry. And I think we, as educators, have a responsibility to respond to those concerns on several different levels.
And I think it's helpful to tease them out. One of them has to do with-- and the Obama story, I think, is helpful on this-- the temptation to believe that happiness and fulfillment in life is determined by what is monetizable.
And the second issue is an issue about time horizon. It's about assuming that one's life course should be measured by what happens the moment one graduates. And I think it's important for us to keep reminding our students that-- and their parents-- that we are educating them for a full life course. That's one of the differences between a vocational school and a great university.
And so we want to stretch the time horizon out. And we want to remind people that although money can help, it is not the be-all and end-all of what we're preparing people for. We're preparing them for lives of satisfaction and contribution.
Thank you, Jeff. Beautifully said.
I want to just add that the collective time spent in the presidency at Cornell, for this group, is 38 years. And that's a substantial slice of Cornell's total history. We're delighted that leading us into the next 150 years is Beth Garrett. And she's going to come and join us now. Another chair will be added. And we're going to talk about--
--talk about the future.
Beth, we welcome you. And we are delighted at the amount of time you are able to give to Cornell already. Seeing the place as it is.
Thank you. I'm very fortunate. I look forward to hearing your advice.
Very good. Now the assembled panel has generously agreed to offer advice.
And my advice, Beth, is largely to ignore it.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
However, they're going to give you advice.
I have to just interject a friendly amendment. Pretend to be listening intently and then ignore it.
David, why don't you kick off for us?
Gosh, why did I open my mouth? Well the main advice I would give you-- and I want to just tell the assemblage, that it's been my great, good fortune to be able to work with and get to know Beth Garrett over the last several months. And she's going to be a fabulous president for Cornell. And a fabulous leader for the country. So this is a big day for Cornell.
I would say, based on what you bring to the table already, you've honed very good and important instincts. You have good academic taste, good judgment. You've spread across multiple disciplines. You've done enormous leadership on interdisciplinary areas at USC. And, as someone who went to UCLA for two years, the fact that I can even talk about USC in a positive sense, I think, shows enormous maturity on my part.
But my first piece of advice would be don't change your basic approach to academia. Because it got you to a very distinguished career. A hugely positive trajectory for one of the great private research universities in the country.
And there's actually a kernel of truth in many things that Frank Rhodes says. Believe it or not, there is. And this business about ignoring it, I think he was being partly facetious. But I think staying with your own compass that you've honed over years and decades in various disciplines is the first piece of advice that I would give you.
And the second is I believe that you will gain enormously from meeting with the other Ivy League presidents. It's a fabulous privilege twice a year. It really is. And it's a support group, number one.
It's one of those support groups you dream of, where you walk in and you say to the other one, well you're a fabulous leader. And that one says, no, no. You're changing--
--you're changing the way we look at life in general. Once you get past those social amenities, it's such a various group from different backgrounds. And the schools have a lot in common, but some dissimilarities. You'll gain a lot from that. So I urge you to go there with open mind and open heart and take in a lot of that wisdom.
Thank you, David. Drew?
Well we really look forward to welcoming you to that group. Which, I agree, is a wonderful group. Beth, you've been very successful provost, so I'm sure you've figured out what I'm going to say long since. But this is a really trivial suggestion, as compared to your transcendent one, David. Just don't let people run away with your calendar.
Everybody is going to try to take every minute of your life. And you need to have someone at your side protecting that and fighting back. And you need to fight back and run your calendar. Because otherwise, your calendar will run you. And it just can be overwhelming. So that's probably been the case as provost. But I think it will be even more so in a job like this one. And everything depends on it.
My advice, Beth, is don't listen to the trustees.
So I'm finished.
No. No. I do want to tell you a trustee story, however. From my first week, I think, but at least the first month on the job-- and here I'll be serious for a moment. You may not think so.
But I was drawn aside by a trustee of Cornell soon after arriving. And he took me aside and said-- in very serious tones-- Hunter, the first thing you need to do is sell the medical college.
And I said, do you mean it? And he said, I really mean it. It's just become a huge headache. And he explained that. Well I had been at the University of Iowa, which had a very fine medical college. And I thought it was actually an important part of the university.
The difference is there, of course, the medical college was in Iowa City along with the rest of the university. Here it's exactly 236 miles away. So I was very taken aback by this, Beth. And thought, I wonder if this is something that I ought to consider strongly. And I talked with a few folks, including a couple of other trustees, and I began to get the sense that maybe this should be contemplated.
So I then reasoned with a few others and came to the opposite conclusion. And then we worked really hard on the medical college in a lot of different ways. And it's come through very nicely, indeed. For a lot of different reasons.
But that advice was being offered to me quite honestly by someone who really cared and thought this was a big problem. So I just suggest that you're going to hear some ideas from your trustees and others. And take a little while to think about them. I know you will.
And look at things from a number of different points of view. Cornell's this really quite complicated institution. Harvard is very complicated too. But Cornell, I would say, is unusually complex. And you're going to get many, many different points of view.
The only other advice is-- much more serious-- enjoy the heck out of it. Because it is fabulous.
I think just building on a couple of things that have already been said, I think-- oops. I'm losing my--
Thank you. I think-- as you protect your calendar-- I think one of the things that is clearly natural for you is to want to invest time with faculty. To spend time getting to know the faculty. And I encourage you strongly to get to know this faculty.
Cornell has more than 1,500 professors. It will take you a long time to get to know all of them. But every minute you spend talking with faculty can be a joy.
One of the amazing things is that you can call up a faculty member and say, hello. I am wondering if we might spend half an hour so I could learn about the work you're doing. And they'll be thrilled. They will come.
And they will give you a wonderful presentation about amazing work that they're doing. And I know you well enough to know that, for you, this is like being a kid in a candy store. And you should really, really eat the candy. It's just fantastic.
And related to that, though, is you should not hesitate-- if you think it's important-- to go to the faculty of Cornell and say, I need your help. I need all of you to join with me in making a change. I need all of you to join with me in making a sacrifice.
This faculty loves this university. They're are dedicated to its excellence. They're dedicated to ensuring that it continues to be one of the truly extraordinary universities in the world. They're here to help you. Don't hesitate to ask them.
Thank you, Jeff. Beth.
Beth, know how warmly we welcome you. And wish you great success here. But I wonder if you want to say a few words of your own.
Well I will be very brief because I'm not yet a university president. But I actually want to thank you, I think, on behalf of this audience, for a terrific session. Thinking about some of the hardest issues that our institutions face.
I often say that if one looks at history, there are two institutions that are durable. That last forever in some form. Both because they have very deep values. And because they're resilient enough to change with time.
One is religion and the other are universities. And we don't know what universities will look like over the next 150 years. But the one thing I am confident about is there will be great universities. This university, Harvard, and others.
I feel very fortunate to be taking the leadership of one that has played such an important role in the life of the nation and in the world. And I feel enormously lucky to have all of the people on this panel as colleagues to whom I can turn when I have questions and need advice. And I think I speak on behalf of the audience in thanking you today for participating in this panel. Thank you.
Thank you, Beth. You've been very patient. And we want to give you the opportunity to answer back. So we have microphones available. And we'd welcome any questions. We have time for 15 or 20 minutes of questions, if you have them.
The advice about meeting with the faculty was marvelous. Meet with the students.
Very good. Thank you. Please. On the left. Yes.
Hi. I wanted to ask about undocumented students. Obviously, they face unique challenges in financing education. And in the opportunities that are available to them if they're able to complete an education at a wonderful place like Cornell or Harvard.
What are your thoughts on how they access opportunities and how they can even access the wonderful education that we've all been able to access?
Thank you. David.
So thanks for coming, Trina. It's good to see you always. This is a tough, tough problem for the whole country. Because some of us have tried to be vocal about the need for, at least, a serious consideration of immigration policy related to many things, but this one in particular. A relative handful of undocumented students at Cornell have come forward to meet with me alone in my office.
And as you know, there's some personal risk of declaring oneself undocumented, depending on this family's and person's situation. And most of our schools-- I hope, Drew, I can speak on behalf of Harvard and USC-- most of the schools don't have any sort of proscription of any kind-- private schools-- for undocumented students coming in.
But by the same token, there's many things that are not available to them. In terms of federal finance and so on. So I think-- although it may seem like shirking the responsibility-- I think this is one of those areas in which, unless we change the basic rules at a federal level related to immigration policy, it's going to be hard to make a real dent in this problem.
The Dream Act was one way-- a pathway to citizenship. And those of us, like myself-- first generation Americans-- know that this pathway to citizenship has been walked by generations and generations in this country. And so I don't think it's a problem that can be solved within a given university.
Certain things can be done to facilitate a difficult passage. But I don't think the problem can be solved at an individual university level.
Thank you, David. Question over here.
I want to express my appreciation as a student in high school who came to university at a very tormentuous time. When the Vietnam War was, in some sense, being ended by actions that were occurring within universities that were structurally very upsetting to those universities.
On the other hand, I can't express my appreciation more as an American for the changes-- the political changes-- that came at that time. And at that same time, myself and Isaac Kramnick had-- he had recognized this much more eloquently. That in some sense, universities are very quiet places in a political sense.
Last weekend I was privileged to be part of a group that was here at Cornell, in which undergraduates are working tremendously, dedicated to a program that was for middle school young ladies. And I realized that the students I was working with-- I'm a faculty member-- were much more dedicated than I had ever been in college. But I was sort of seeing the results of other people's work.
So I want to bring it back and ask you, especially for the humanities, because I think the humanities give us a sense of history. And the mistakes that we-- as humans-- we make over and over again. Are we, as an ivory tower, fulfilling our role, in some sense, or not fulfilling our role? In the sense of our social development, political development of the country?
Thank you. Who would like to tackle this one?
I'll just say a word about it. You know, when I went off to college a long time ago, I went to a college-- small college-- that really was a bubble. And it was a very fine, small school. And for four years-- for three years-- it was a quiet place.
The fourth year, Vietnam War protests began. Actually at that college. And it became a major aspect of my life as an undergraduate student. I would say, today universities are as open to the world and to political ideological issues more than they ever have been.
So they're remarkably open, consequential places that cannot be described any longer as ivory towers. They don't bear any resemblance to ivory towers. So I welcome that. I think these universities are global, as has been said. They're involved in everything from technology transfer and economic development and health care to teaching Greek.
So I just don't think that these universities even resemble ivory towers. And I think they're at the forefront of a lot of societal issues. And that, I think, distinguishes American universities. And one of the other great aspects of that for us is that we don't have a system of higher education in America.
We don't have a system. France has a system. Germany has a system. We don't have a system. Because it's grown up willy-nilly through a number of accidents. And it's a wonderful thing that it has. Because other countries now envy our non-system.
So to me, this is quite a wonderful aspect of universities. And we should look at it that way. Not as something that's removed. Cornell has a land grant mission that it takes really seriously. And its global.
Thank you, Hunter. On this side, please.
Oh. No one else? May I just start by saying that I have, for the last 40 years, been a most supportive, loyal, and loving Cornellian. I am not a trustee. So while I am going to talk about a subject that I think is anathema, maybe you'll listen to me because I'm not a trustee.
And that is that each year, when the end of the season comes and the new class has been accepted, Cornell points to the amazing new class that is coming. The students, who they are, what they're like, what they've achieved. And we are so excited to welcome them.
Yet in many, many departments, once they get here, we do not truly support those students. There are many, many instances across the university-- but more so, as we know, in some departments-- where students are cut down.
Our goal is to weed them out. To create testing and evaluative instruments that look and expect them to demonstrate knowledge in areas that haven't been taught. And to put students into unbelievable direct competition with one another.
And create many students who cannot manage. And many who lose what the most-- I believe, having been an HD major-- what's the most important features and characteristics. Our self-confidence and feelings of self worth.
I'd like to say-- and I have tried over the years to talk to many people at Cornell and no one will ever engage. It's time for us-- and maybe you can speak to this, because I think there are some differences at Harvard-- to become a-- we take in these students. And it's our job to graduate 99.9% of them.
And to support them. And to have faculty be required to have a set of objectives. If students master those, they get an A. Even if everyone gets one.
And to have other ways to help students, who we took and thought were wonderful, succeed. Many, many of you talk about this privately. Almost no one is willing to speak.
If you agree with me-- for one second, unanimously-- would you stand up? If you think we ought to be changing our competitive ways. And be more supportive of our students. And I ask you to create something, David, right now. So that Beth can take it on.
Cindy, thank you for coming. Seriously, thank you for bringing up an important issue. And thank you for being in contact throughout my presidency. I very much appreciated it. Except for the part where we couldn't get you a ticket last night for Bailey Hall here.
But we have a videotape that you can watch. It was nice. So whether or not people stood up, certainly the potential disconnect between the hugely selective process that these kinds of universities go through and the need to have people succeed-- if I could use a broad paraphrase of what you're talking about. It should be of great interest to all of us.
And not just the Ivy League, but throughout American higher education. I know that you're particularly impugning Cornell. I want to give a quick answer to that. But I want to answer it directly.
But I do think that-- I hope you'll recognize-- that the retention and graduation rates at these schools are astronomical. Maybe it's not 99%, but it's 93%, 94%. And I can tell you from being president at another great university that not all universities have those retention and graduation rates.
But I think broadening your comment to say that we have the responsibility to make people feel safe. Whatever the issues might be. For people to feel that they can succeed. I think is absolutely correct.
And I know that people would all stand up to that sort of a thing. In terms of the specific competitive thing you were talking about at Cornell, I think that that's changed over the years. I'm proud of the fact-- I'm not saying it went away, but I think it's changed. And I'm proud of the fact that not every student gets an A here.
And the reason for that is the purpose of grades is to have some differentiation. And after all, Cindy, that's the way the real world is. And so you and I may never agree on this totally. But I agree with the general precept of what you're talking about.
And I will share-- if you'll allow me-- I'll share verbally with Beth the next time we meet. Which is, like, tomorrow. Some of the-- because today is Sunday and we're relaxing, as you can see-- some of the stuff that you brought up and we'll stay in contact. And I appreciate it. Thank you.
Thank you, David. This side of the house.
Another question on supporting students. A recent article identified six factors that appear to be highly correlated with future career success in universities. Just to go through them quickly.
A professor who makes you excited about learning. A professor who cares about you as a person. A mentor who encourages you to pursue goals and dreams. Working on a long term project. A job or internship where you applied what you're learning. And being extremely involved in extracurricular activities.
Based on the PULSE results, we know that Cornell does track how many students are able to take advantage of those opportunities and resources. But what are some ideas moving forward for how Cornell can extend those-- or other universities as well-- to more students? Personally, I know about things like honors theses, working on research with a professor, but not everyone gets involved to that extent.
Hunter, comments on that?
I don't know that I can answer that.
You've left us speechless, which is no small achievement.
Well thank you for the question.
But I want to invite you to write me about it in a little more depth. Write it directly to me so that I can engage with you on it. Send it to email@example.com.
I'll get back to you. I will. And I want to understand a little bit more the three dimensions of what you're asking about. And I'll get back to you.
That would help. Thank you, David.
On this side. Yes, sir.
Thank you. So I actually do have a question, but the--
--the initial comment, I just wanted to quickly respond about the student and faculty relationship. The faculty are getting beat up a lot today. And I beat the faculty up all the time.
But I want to say the students, also-- it's not a one way street, right? The students have to also interact with the professors. And we didn't do the-- well, a lot of people didn't do a great job in interacting with the professors. And I didn't either.
Until I started to do that, I started to reap amazing benefits. And I don't know if he's a professor. Isaac Kramnick was one of the people who really took me under his wing and really helped me out once I learned how to reach out. So I just wanted to say the faculty at Cornell are pretty great once you try to put out that first effort. They do help you.
So my next question-- and as Cornell students, we're not brief either. But my next question is actually something I'm surprised we didn't talk about. Which is, I guess, income inequality and how that relates to higher education.
And I guess it's the US Census Bureau says that the population of the United States of America in what-- about 2060-- is going to be majority minority. So we'll be a plurality.
And so even though we don't know how universities are going to look then, we do know-- we have a good idea about how the population is going to look. And that means that this unsustainable funding regime that we have will not be suitable to most of the students trying to come to your universities. So how are we going to think about what income inequality has done to the average wage earner, the median wage earner-- in particular, the minority population?
And will they be able to afford places like Cornell? Or would we recruit in places where they can't afford places like Cornell? I know we talked about international students and students paying their full tuition and things like that nature.
If I could pay my full tuition by myself, and my mother, and my father, I promise I would do it. But the reason why I'm not doing it is because I actually can't. It wasn't doable.
And I'm happy to have been-- Cornell's my alma mater. I can wear this now and say, I graduated in 2010. I want people who look like me to have the experiences that I did with President Skorton or President Rhodes.
So that's a great question. And it's very well phrased, I must say. I went to a panel yesterday, as part of this festivity, on precisely that topic. Poverty and inequality.
And it had five alums and professors speaking. Kaushik Basu, who's on the economics faculty and now the World Bank for a stint. And it was quite a fabulous presentation because there is-- even though not in name-- a school of development at Cornell. Because of the work that a lot of faculty members have done over the years in agriculture, in economics, in outreach. Especially in Africa and Asia.
And so there's real expertise here in a number of different departments. That have not been brought together into a single program. But they're across the campus.
But there is a kind of school that is an ideology that Cornell faculty members have developed over the years. They've done some of the seminal work, in fact, on poverty and inequality. So all I can say is this university takes your question really seriously.
And works at it across the globe. Here in the US, as well as globally. So it's a great question. And I think that this is the right place to have that question studied.
There aren't any easy answers. But if they're going to come, they certainly come from this faculty. So it's a great strength here.
Thank you, Hunter. I'm afraid, you know, the witching hour's approaching. We have time for only one more question. I'm frustrated by that, as I know you will be. But on this side, please. At this microphone.
Thank you so much for coming and for being so accessible to our questions. My name is Arielle Koppell, I'm a graduating senior at the ILR School. So my question is with regard to universities' stress--
Could you hold the microphone up just a little?
So my question is with regard to universities' stress on diversity, in terms of admissions. I'm wondering about what exactly-- as university presidents, or incoming presidents-- you feel the role is of the university to also encourage inclusion and dialogue across communities. So it's not just about having a lot of diverse clubs with better focus on either culture, religion, ethnicity-- but about having dialogue across those communities.
And I've noticed in my own experience over the last four years that that's really been becoming more prominent on Cornell's campus. There's an organization called Mix that is about encouraging dialogue, specifically with regard to biracial and multiracial people. And also there's an interfaith dialogue-- interfaith council-- that's beginning to become more prominent.
So what do you think is the administration's role in encouraging that type of conversation-- that type of dialogue-- on campuses?
Thank you. David?
I could say a word about Harvard. This is something so prominent in our minds right now. Some of you here may have heard about a performance that a group of African American students put together last spring called, I, Too, Am Harvard. It went viral. And there were I, Too, Am a whole lot of other universities.
And what it was about was students who came to Harvard, who we thought we were fully welcoming to Harvard, who did not feel included in the community. And it was a study, almost, of microaggressions and insults and daily difficulties that were presented to members of this community. Without the larger community even being aware of much of what was going on.
And so that has sparked a series of conversations, committees, analyses of where these moments of exclusion are occurring. What are the contexts in which inclusion can be encouraged?
I don't have any answers. I just want to say this is a big, big question for us right now. And we're beginning to try to figure out how to address it more effectively.
Could I add something?
This has got to be the right answer. What President Faust is talking about. And that is to focus on it, to really put effort toward it. And we're going to have to listen to each other. You're forced to listen to us a lot by the nature of the bully pulpit.
But we have to listen to what the students and the staff and the faculty have to say about this. Because it's those local environments in which people work. As you know, there's no such thing as the university to an individual person.
It's my residence hall, or my apartment, or my work area, or my distinguished presidential panel. Whatever it might be. And I think it's a very, very important question that you're bringing up.
And I appreciate you bringing it up to us. And if you have other ideas please send them to me. If you have specific ideas, I would love to hear them. Thank you.
Thank you. David, as our host, do you want to say a word?
I would like to. I want to thank, in general, people for coming to share Charter Day Weekend with us. As we're getting ready for the Charter Day ceremony tomorrow, it's been a culmination of five years of planning on the part of faculty, staff, and students. And something on the order of 300 or so volunteers over months and months and months to make this happen.
It would have all been for naught if you hadn't shown up. And been so interested in sharing it with us. So I want to first thank you for being part of this weekend.
It's been fabulous from my point of view. And it's not over yet. We get to put on caps and gowns tomorrow and actually commemorate the 150th.
Secondly, I want to thank the fabulous panel. Thirdly, I want to thank Beth Garrett for deciding to become part of the Cornell family.
As you leave the auditorium, you'll find that there's a protest outside. Right outside of the front door of Bailey Hall. If you're comfortable walking right through that way, please do.
If you're not, when you come out, please leave by one of the side exits in the building. Have a good day. Thanks a lot for being here.
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Jeffrey S. Lehman '77, Hunter R. Rawlings III, Frank H.T. Rhodes and David J. Skorton, with guests Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, and Elizabeth Garrett, president-elect of Cornell University, discuss issues in higher education. Part of Cornell's Sesquicentennial celebration, April 24-27, 2015.