A New Era in Higher Education
Profound change characterizes the environment for higher education today, much as it did in 1876 when The Johns Hopkins University was established. Out of that earlier transformation an institution emerged that became the model for the modern American research university. At the threshold of the 21st century, Hopkins faces new challenges and new opportunities to assure continued leadership in higher education.
The transition that occurred in the last part of the 19th century was marked by a number of historic trends that had major impacts on the development of higher education in America: increasing industrialization, the influx of immigrants, the rise of urban society, and the emergence of the United States as a world power. During this period also, the expansion of new knowledge and the founding of many scientific disciplines helped define the role universities would play thereafter. Fortunately, in the 19th century there emerged a peculiarly American phenomenon, the rise of philanthropy as a major source of support for educational and cultural purposes. Individuals of wealth and vision among them Johns Hopkins established universities that quickly became leading institutions of higher education.
As the transition to the 21st century unfolds, the changes in America and the world promise to be at least as profound as those of that earlier period and much more rapid. The gap between discovery and application of knowledge becomes ever smaller. Pervading our society is the information revolution, through which all the world's recorded knowledge is fast becoming electronically available for economic progress, for education and research, for governance, or for cultural enrichment and services. The world is shrinking and growing more interdependent. Powerful demographic trends are redefining America in multicultural terms, and changes in the world order following the Cold War are creating new alignments, conflicts, and threats. Economic competitiveness among nations is bringing pressures for increased productivity, and all institutions are being challenged to become more effective and accountable.
These changes are being felt with particular effect in higher education. For example, the explosion of discovery and the electronic revolution have created new ways to carry out scholarly activity and to share ideas and information with students without regard to disciplinary boundaries or physical proximity. Stated simply, the Information Age is leading us to the concept of an agile, responsive, boundary-less university for teaching, learning, and discovery. Just as other institutions must respond to global realities, so must universities become more thoroughly international, more effective, and more accountable. Research intensive universities such as Hopkins, having grown in recent decades largely as a result of federal grants and (in the case of medical schools) clinical service income, now find themselves vulnerable to changes in governmental policies or competitive market forces. Consequently, research universities are forced to make a realistic assessment of their financial future, to face up to difficult choices, and to put increasing emphasis on their core activities and what they do best.
In assessing the implications of these powerful developments, however, we must not lose sight of the essence of Johns Hopkins University as a place where discovery and learning are the shared experience of students and teachers and where academic excellence is the sovereign value.
The Committee for the 21st Century was established by President William C. Richardson and Provost Joseph Cooper to address the challenges for Johns Hopkins University in the new century. The Committee was charged to examine critically and imaginatively every aspect of the University's organization and programs, including but not limited to the current configuration of academic and administrative divisions; major new opportunities for interdivisional programs; the best use of the University's overseas campuses and centers; the use of facilities; the University's response to the revolutions in telecommunications and computing; the quality and length of degree programs; and all the University's policies and programs that bear on its recruitment and retention of the finest and most inclusive faculty, staff, and students. In responding to these issues, we were encouraged to think boldly along fundamentally new lines, and were asked to emphasize, in each area of concern, recommen- dations for action.
Our report is the product of many hundreds of hours of study by over 100 faculty members and additional administrators and students working on the Committee or the eight Strategic Study Groups we established. Each Strategic Study Group was charged to explore the specific challenges that Johns Hopkins would face in a given area: interdivisional collaboration, international dimensions, information resources and technologies, faculty issues, diversity, the undergraduate program, nontraditional education and distance learning, and health and biomedical programs. Our Committee and its Strategic Study Groups met numerous times with various constituents of the Hopkins community, held open forums, conducted written surveys, and conferred with our alumni. Collectively, the study groups generated more than 100 individual recommendations. Many are well worth pursuing, and we urge the faculty and administrative leadership of each of the divisions to review the study groups' proposals, available from the Provost's office. We have put forward in this report those recommendations that we believe will have the most significant and immediate impact on Johns Hopkins' academic mission, administrative effectiveness, and financial health.
Over the past 18 months, we have grappled with the question of what Hopkins will be, or should be, in the 21st century. This report begins with our vision of Johns Hopkins University in the year 2010. This vision gives rise to a set of institutional imperatives necessary to its achievement. We then present some specific recommendations, grouped under these broader objectives, and a rationale for the steps we have proposed. Finally, we discuss in greater detail the financial challenges the University faces, and we offer some general strategies for addressing these problems.
GO TO REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
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