AAAS program will focus on excellence, access in higher education


The American Academy of Arts and Sciences will bring its Lincoln Project, with its focus on excellence and access in public higher education, to the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus Monday.

Led by co-chairs Mary Sue Coleman and Robert J. Birgeneau, the Lincoln Project has spent the last three years considering the implications of reduced state investment in public higher education; assessing the role of the federal government in funding public research universities; and developing recommendations for ensuring that public universities continue to serve the nation as engines of economic development and opportunity for Americans from all backgrounds.

Coleman is the former U-M president and Birgeneau is the former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

The Lincoln Project is named for President Abraham Lincoln to commemorate his role in signing the Morrill Act of 1862, which laid the groundwork for the United States’ public university system.

Later in April, the Lincoln Project will make recommendations to encourage the development of new federal, corporate and philanthropic sources of support to sustain public higher education in every state.

Coleman will moderate Monday’s discussion at U-M. Joining her will be the presidents of the University Research Corridor universities: U-M’s Mark Schlissel, Lou Anna K. Simon of Michigan State University and M. Roy Wilson of Wayne State University.

Also participating will be J. Patrick Doyle, president and CEO of Domino’s Pizza, who also serves as chairman of the Business Leaders of Michigan group, which has been a strong supporter of higher education in the state.

Similar sessions have been scheduled at campuses across the nation.

Panelists will discuss the value of public research universities, in particular how they engage with their communities and regions; their economic impact; and the new roles and responsibilities that they have in serving the public interest in Michigan.

The program, which is open to the university community, is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Vandenberg Room of the Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave.

“The ideas being examined and advanced by the Lincoln Project are essential to the future of our nation,” Schlissel said. “President Emerita Coleman has characterized the project as addressing the ‘financial and moral commitment of our country to public higher education.’ This is a conversation we must have and we all share in the responsibility to find answers.”

Among the questions that will be explored during the event are these:

• How public universities can address financial challenges while fulfilling their commitment to providing an accessible and affordable undergraduate education.

• How public universities can better measure and communicate the payoffs for all residents — in terms of quality of life, cultural infrastructure, and direct economic benefits — of state investment in higher education.

• What role the federal government, the business sector and philanthropy should play in sustaining the excellence of America’s public research universities.


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