Precipice or Crossroads?

Where America's Great Public Universities Stand and Where They Are Going Midway through Their Second Century

Edited by Daniel Mark Fogel & Elizabeth Malson-Huddle

Subjects: Higher Education, Public Policy, American History
Paperback : 9781438444925, 362 pages, June 2012
Hardcover : 9781438444932, 362 pages, June 2012

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Table of contents

A Note on References
Peter McPherson
Daniel Mark Fogel
Democracy, the West, and Land-Grant Colleges
Coy F. Cross II
The 1890 Institutions in African American and American Life
Carolyn R. Mahoney
The Modern Public University: Its Land-Grant Heritage, Its Land-Grant Horizon
E. Gordon Gee
Commitments: Enhancing the Public Purposes and Outcomes of Public Higher Education
Mark G. Yudof and Caitlin Callaghan
Challenges to Viability and Sustainability: Public Funding, Tuition, College Costs, and Affordability
David E. Shulenburger
University-Based R&D and Economic Development: The Morrill Act and the Emergence of the American Research University
Michael M. Crow and William B. Dabars

From a Land-Grant to a World-Grant Ideal: Extending Public Higher Education Core Values to a Global Frame
John Hudzik and Lou Anna K. Simon
Statewide University Systems: Taking the Land-Grant Concept to Scale in the Twenty-First Century
Nancy L. Zimpher and Jessica Fisher Neidl
Creating the Future: The Promise of Public Research Universities for America
James J. Duderstadt
Challenges to Equilibrium: The Place of the Arts and Humanities in Public Research Universities
Daniel Mark Fogel
Notes on Contributors

Comprehensive treatment of the challenges faced by America’s public research universities, and of what those challenges may mean for the nation.


President Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-grant Act in 1862, launching a nationwide project in public higher education that would build democracy, prosperity, and competitiveness to levels undreamed of 150 years ago. As student costs skyrocket, driven by steep drops in public funding, the viability of that project, like the nation itself, is under threat. In Precipice or Crossroads? top experts in higher education address a broad range of issues central to the question of whether the quality of these institutions—and of American life and democracy—can be sustained.

At the University of Vermont, Daniel Mark Fogel is Professor of English and former President, and Elizabeth Malson-Huddle is Lecturer in English.


"America's land-grant and other great public universities have played a vital role in our nation, but they face extraordinary financial stress and a very uncertain future. In this important book, some of our nation's most distinguished current and past public higher education leaders paint a clear picture of the problems confronting these institutions and suggest how they must evolve to continue to benefit the nation. This is a must read for anyone concerned about public higher education. " — Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Director, Cornell Higher Education Research Institute and editor of What's Happening to Public Higher Education? The Shifting Financial Burden