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Attacking the Elites: What Critics Get Wrong—and Right—About America’s Leading Universities

Attacking the Elites: What Critics Get Wrong—and Right—About America’s Leading Universities

Current price: $28.00
Publication Date: February 27th, 2024
Publisher:
Yale University Press
ISBN:
9780300273601
Pages:
248
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Description

A former Harvard president reflects on how elite universities are responding to critiques from the left and the right, and how they can do better
 
“People have lost faith, trust and confidence [in higher education]. Anyone wanting to understand why even the best American universities are in such a state will learn a lot by reading [these] reflections.”—Leslie Lenkowsky, Wall Street Journal
 
Elite American universities, such as Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, are admired throughout the world. They attract highly qualified applicants, and most of their graduates go on to lead successful lives. Scholars and researchers at elite universities contribute to knowledge that benefits the public in countless ways, from the discovery of ancient texts to breakthroughs at the forefront of medical technology.

These same elite institutions, however, are beset by criticism from both sides of America’s ideological divide. Liberals press them to enroll more low-income students and to use their reputations and endowments to induce corporations to adopt more just, equitable, and environmentally sound policies. Conservative politicians accuse the universities’ predominantly liberal faculty of indoctrinating students. The Supreme Court has recently prohibited universities from giving preference to Black and Hispanic applicants for admission, sparking a wider debate over the policies of elite universities in choosing their student body.

Drawing on over fifty years of experience as a student, professor, dean, and president of Harvard University, Derek Bok examines the current disputes involving admissions, diversity, academic freedom and political correctness, curriculum and teaching, and even athletics in order to determine which complaints are unsubstantiated, which are valid, and how elite universities can best respond to their critics.

About the Author

Derek Bok was president of Harvard University from 1971 to 1991, and again in 2006 and 2007. He is the author of numerous books, including Higher Education in America. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

Praise for Attacking the Elites: What Critics Get Wrong—and Right—About America’s Leading Universities

“People have lost faith, trust and confidence [in higher education]. Anyone wanting to understand why even the best American universities are in such a state will learn a lot by reading [these] reflections.”—Leslie Lenkowsky, Wall Street Journal

“In this evenhanded and pragmatic text, Bok presents an all-too-rare moderate perspective on a system as ravaged by extremes as the society it serves. . . . A skillfully argued study of higher education.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Bok is a distinguished scholar and teacher and one of the great university presidents of our time. No one is in a better position to make the case for elite education—wisely, calmly and with respect for all the arguments pro and con.”—Anthony Kronman, professor of law and former dean, Yale Law School

“Derek Bok provides a calm, reasoned take on the hottest-button issues in American higher education. All of this will provoke controversy; all of it is worth the attention of the leaders of our leading universities.”—Nancy Weiss Malkiel, author of Changing the Game: William G. Bowen and the Challenges of American Higher Education

“What is the role of leading universities today? What are their responsibilities beyond educating leaders and generating knowledge? Derek Bok brings a lifetime’s worth of experience to answering these questions; his response should be read by leaders of institutions, educational and otherwise, across the globe.”—Luis Ubiñas, former president, Ford Foundation

“Derek Bok’s Attacking the Elites contains exactly what you’d expect: judicious insights, thoughtful arguments, and a balanced appraisal of diverse points of view. This defender of higher education knows we can improve it still further.”—Michael S. Roth, author of The Student: A Short History