JMC fellow Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill exhorts proponents of liberal education to continue fighting the good fight in her piece in The Library of Law and Liberty.
Never, Never Surrender
Robert L. Paquette’s report from the battlefield of liberal arts colleges should alarm those concerned about the future of higher education in this country. The erosion or outright overturning of the traditional liberal arts curriculum; rampant grade inflation that strips undergraduate education of standards of excellence; egregious offenses against free expression and open exploration of controversial ideas; these and more are undermining the ability of liberal arts colleges to graduate thoughtful adults ready to assume positions of leadership in civil society, government, and business.
Those on the home front—the general public, students and their parents, employers—already sense that all is not well on the campuses. A Strada-Gallup poll of currently-enrolled college students released last month found that only 40 percent of liberal arts undergraduates were confident that their field of study would lead to a good job, and merely 28 percent were confident that they would graduate with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the job market. Current students are right be concerned about finding a good job given a Gallup finding that just 33 percent of business leaders agreed that “higher education institutions in this country are graduating students with the skills and competencies that my business needs.” And a 2017 Pew poll found that 58 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents believe that colleges and universities have a negative effect “on the way things are going in the county.”
Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill is the executive director of the Fund for Academic Renewal, which provides free programmatic and legal advisory services to help donors structure major gifts to colleges and universities. Previously, she was vice president of development at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and served on the faculties of St. John’s College (Annapolis) and the College of William and Mary.
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