- New Mexico Highlands President Sam Minner writes in the Albuquerque Journal that three popular suggestions for how higher ed can adapt to modern day needs — eliminating tenure, online education, and programs that directly feed the job pipeline — are actually flawed.
- Minner argues that while tenure may seem like "farfetched" job protection, it's actually an important tradition that only applies to a minority of faculty, enabling them to teach truth "unfettered from shifting political winds."
- While online education has become a popular method of meeting demands of a modern student body, Minner counters that it's not the right solution for all students, many of whom need the traditional support of a teacher. Finally, while most leaders are told to focus on classes that lead directly to jobs, the benefits of a liberal arts education prepare students for a lifetime of work, rather than a specialized job.
With a recent string of high-profile campus protests, tech innovation disruption and online learning, demands for lower tuition and greater transparency in student data and the emergence of more diverse, "nontradional students," the landscape of higher ed is changing dramatically. And, college and university presidents are certainly feeling the pressures of not adapting their policies to the needs of an evolving campus. But while it seems like kicking tradition to the side may be the solution for becoming more modern, administrators such as Minner offer a clarion call to proceed with caution before buying into some of the recent suggestions that have circulated around higher education circulation.
The recent emphasis on college readiness and maintaining bottom-lines can take away from several important yet more traditional functions of their institutions, which remain critical to preparing students for their lives after graduation. For example, the standard liberal arts education — with its emphasis on communication and writing skills, that leaders still value — remain essential for student success in the workforce.
As the face of higher education continues to change with a large emphasis on innovation, Minner reminds that the value of a strong university education that can give students the skills they couldn't otherwise receive outside the traditional campus setting — civic engagement, ethics development and the ability to work with others — will continue to remain relevant in the market place for ideas and business.