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the sixteen most innovative PeoPle in higher education HOW THEY'RE WORKING TO MAKE COLLEGE MORE ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE, AND EFFECTIVE. By Gilad Edelman ast year, we profiled ten college and university presidents who, in our judgment, were doing things differently, and better, than their peers. Instead of using their positions to increase their endowments and recruit a "better" sort of student in order to move their schools up the U.S. News & World Report rankings, these leaders were turning their institutions into laboratories of innovation in a hunt for better ways to deliver higher ed-providing quality degrees at lower cost, getting more students to graduate, and so on. One of those presidents, Michael Sorrell of Paul Quinn College, is the subject of a longer feature in this issue (see Matt Connolly, "Labor of Love," page 67). But, of course, even the best college presidents, like the most successful company CEOs, aren't necessarily the ones dreaming up the actual new ideas. Those tend to come from lower down the chain of command-administrators, faculty members, even grad students-or from people outside these institutions, in government, nonprofits, and the private sector. These front-line innovators don't always have a lot of power. So when they try to advocate for new and better ways of serving students, they are typically pushing against resistant leadership, indifferent or threatened colleagues, and a general institutional inertia that makes progress painfully slow. The good news is that the atmosphere for innovation is beginning to change. As more and more students and parents grow frustrated with the rising cost and uncertain quality of a college education; as employers and policymakers bemoan the negative economic effects of a lack of college-educated workers; and as voters turn angry about how the higher education system seems to perpetuate inequality rather than alleviate it, politicians are putting pres- Courtesy of Georgia State University l sure on institutions to improve. Conditions are becoming ripe, in other words, for the innovators to take charge. One of the best ways we can think of to empower those still struggling to create change is to publicize the work of those who are already succeeding. So we set out to find innovators from all corners of the higher education map. This list isn't a ranking, and it's by no means exhaustive. Consider it a snapshot of the various overlapping ways in which creative, passionate people around the country are working to make higher education more accessible, affordable, and effective. TIM RENICK Georgia State University Georgia State, in Atlanta, is a microcosm of the challenges facing higher education in America. The demographics of the university's more than 30,000 undergraduates have shifted dramatically over the past decade, as Pell Grant- eligible students have risen from about 30 percent to 60 percent of the student body and the ratio of white students to students of color has flipped from 60/40 to 40/60. At the same time, state funding for higher education has declined. A huge, non-elite, non-flagship Tim Renick urban public university, trying to do more with less while serving students from less privileged backgrounds: welcome to higher education in 2016. Given these shifts, you would expect Georgia State's academic results to have suffered-after all, research shows Washington Monthly 59

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2016

Contents
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