Colleges and universities are among the most cherished institutions in American society-and also among the most controversial. Yet affirmative action and skyrocketing tuition are only the most recent dissonant issues to emerge. Recounting the many crises and triumphs in the long history of American higher education, historian John Thelin provides welcome perspective on this influential aspect of American life. In A History of American Higher Education, Thelin offers a wide-ranging and engaging account of the origins and evolution of America's public and private colleges and universities, emphasizing the notion of saga-the proposition that institutions are heirs to numerous historical strands and numerous attempts to address such volatile topics as institutional cost and effectiveness, admissions and access, and the character of the curriculum.
Thelin draws on both official institutional histories and the informal memories that constitute legends and lore to offer a fresh interpretation of an institutional past that reaches back to the colonial era and encompasses both well-known colleges and universities and such understudied institutions as community, women's, and historically black colleges, proprietary schools, and freestanding professional colleges. Thelin's lively history has particular relevance for a society still struggling to determine what constitutes a legitimate field of study, reminding readers that Harvard once used its medical school as a safe place to admit the sons of wealthy alumni who could not pass the undergraduate college admissions examination and that the University of Pennsylvania once considered the study of history, government, and economics unworthy of addition to the liberal arts curriculum. Thelin also addresses the role of local, state, and federal governments in colleges and universities, as well as the influence of private foundations and other organizations.
And through imaginative interpretation of films, novels, and popular magazines, he illuminates the convoluted relationship between higher education and American culture. For anyone attempting to understand America's colleges and universities, A History of American Higher Education offers a much-needed challenge to conventional wisdom about how these institutions developed and functioned in the past.
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 794 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm
I do believe that the book is worthy of being the major new overview of U.S. higher education. -- Michael W. Simpson Education Review 2004 A readable and concise introduction to this subject, it propels audience members to develop an appreciation for the heterogeneous... academe story as a whole. -- Todd C. Ream Teachers College Record Apart from being first-rate historical interpretation, Thelin's book offers several advantages that should make it attractive to the general reader as well as the scholar... His writing is brisk, concise, and humorous... Part public policy analyst and part social historian, Mr. Thelin weaves a tight narrative that keeps moving. He gives you the view from the administrative building, and he also tells you, often with accompanying photos, what students were like. -- Art Jester Lexington Herald-Leader This book was extremely well written and meticulously documented. NACADA Well written and engaging... retains the reader's attention... Thelin has raised the bar for historians of higher education to clear. -- Theodore J. Weidner Faciities Manager 2005 Thelin offers an historical analysis of contemporary trends and issues in higher education today, e.g., access, affordability, accountability, and assessment. How colleges addressed those issues within different periods of time and societal contexts makes for a more enlightened image of higher education in the US as it exists today. Choice 2005 Fills a real need in the scholarship... Accessible and informative, providing a reasonable foundation on which to build a rich understanding of the development of American higher education. -- Julie A. Reuben Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 2004 Destined to be the standard work in this area for years to come. -- James J. Rhatigan Journal of College Student Development 2006 Despite its age, Rudolph's single-volume history has endured... Now John Thelin's A History of American Higher Education provides a worthy replacement. -- Jana Nidiffer History of Education Quarterly 2006