American Academy of Arts and Sciences Launches Initiative to Address
Challenges to Public Higher Education
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and BERKELEY, Calif., Jan. 28, 2013
Robert J. Birgeneau to Lead American Academy Lincoln Project:Excellence and
Access in Public Higher Education
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and BERKELEY, Calif., Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/
-- The American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced at the University
of California, Berkeley, a new initiative – The Lincoln Project:Excellence
and Access in Public Higher Education – to advocate for the importance of
public colleges and universities. As key engines of economic growth,
innovation, and upward mobility, these schools are facing fundamental
challenges from cutbacks in government support, competition from for-profit
education providers and foreign universities, and emerging technological
The American Academy also announced that UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J.
Birgeneau has agreed to lead the project and will be a Senior Visiting Scholar
at the Academy when he steps down as chancellor on June 1. Birgeneau will also
return to teaching and research at UC Berkeley after nine years of service as
The Lincoln Project is named for President Abraham Lincoln to commemorate his
role in signing in 1862 the Morrill Act, which laid the groundwork for the
nation's unparalleled public university system. An overarching goal of the
project will be to assess the implications of the forces that threaten public
higher education and to develop recommendations to preserve the strength and
diversity of colleges and universities. The initiative will engage state and
federal policymakers, elected officials, university and business leaders,
philanthropists, learned societies, and ultimately, the broad public. It will
reinforce the work of other organizations and advocacy groups concerned with
"Chancellor Birgeneau is a dynamic and highly respected leader in higher
education, having led key public universities – the University of Toronto in
Canada and UC Berkeley in the U.S.," said American Academy President Leslie C.
Berlowitz. "He has been outspoken about the right of all qualified students to
have access to excellence at our public colleges and universities." Birgeneau
has launched initiatives at UC Berkeley that are models for public colleges
and universities elsewhere, including a grant-based financial aid plan for
middle class families and scholarships and support for undocumented students.
Berlowitz made the announcement during the Academy symposium, "The Benefit of
Public Investment in Higher Education: California and Beyond," that is being
held today at UC Berkeley in honor of Birgeneau, one of the panelists. Other
participants include Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of
Michigan; Henry E. Brady, dean of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public
Policy; and Robert D. Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Strauss & Co.
"Public disinvestment and escalating costs are increasingly threatening our
vaunted system of public higher education," Birgeneau said. "Without bold
steps to stabilize the financial model of our public universities, hundreds of
thousands of deserving students will be denied access to a better life and the
country's ability to innovate, create jobs, and support a strong economy will
be severely compromised." He added that as an independent, nonpartisan, and
cross-institutional organization, the American Academy is ideally suited to
sponsor such a study.
"America's system of higher education, both public and private, has long given
America a decisive competitive advantage in the global economy," Berlowitz
said. "Public universities have provided a special pathway for immigrants and
new generations of learners in America. Today, the ability of the system to
maintain high quality and access for all qualified applicants is at risk."
The Academy has assembled a group of senior advisors to guide the initiative.
Confirmed participants include Lawrence S. Bacow, former president of Tufts
University; Gene Block, chancellor of the University of California, Los
Angeles; Henry E. Brady, dean of Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy;
Nancy E. Cantor, chancellor and president of Syracuse University; John T.
Casteen III, former president of the University of Virginia; Mary Sue Coleman,
president of the University of Michigan; Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of The
City University of New York; Robert D. Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Strauss
& Co.; William Powers, Jr., president of the University of Texas at Austin;
Gerald Rosenfeld, Senior Advisor and Vice Chairman of U.S. Investment Banking
at Lazard Ltd.; and Frank D. Yeary, chairman of CamberView Partners LLC.
The Academy will organize a series of national conferences and engage leaders
in government and industry who influence education policy at the state,
federal, and institutional levels. The Academy has received initial support
for the planned three-year project from public and private sources.
About the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: Founded in 1780, the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences (www.amacad.org) is an independent policy
research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and
emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on the humanities, arts,
and higher education; science and technology policy; global security and
energy; and American institutions and the public good. With headquarters in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy's work is advanced by its 4,600 elected
members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and
public affairs from around the world.
About Robert J. Birgeneau: Appointed Chancellor of the University of
California, Berkeley in 2004, he also holds faculty appointments in the
Departments of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering. He is an
internationally distinguished physicist and well known for his commitment to
diversity and equity in higher education. Previously, he served as President
of the University of Toronto and Dean of the School of Science at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he spent twenty-five years on the
faculty. He is the recipient of many awards for teaching and for his research
on the fundamental properties of materials. He is a Fellow of the U.S.
National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, and the American
Philosophical Society. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences in 1987.
About Leslie C. Berlowitz: The President of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, she also holds the William T. Golden Chair. She has led the Academy
since 1996 and previously was former Vice President for Academic Advancement
at New York University. She has served on advisory boards of the National
Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation of Yaddo, the National
Humanities Alliance, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. Her
publications include America in Theory (Oxford University Press, 1988) with
Denis Donoghue and Louis Menand; Greenwich Village: Culture and Counterculture
(New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1990); Restoring Trust in American
Business (MIT Press, 2005) with Jay W. Lorsch and Andy Zelleke; and Reflecting
on the Humanities, Daedalus (MIT Press, 2009) with Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by Northeastern University in
May of 2011, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts &
Sciences in 2004.
SOURCE American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Contact: Paul Karoff, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, +1-617-576-5043,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Gretchen Kell, UC Berkeley, +1-510-642-3136,
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