Our Higher Calling

Rebuilding the Partnership between America and Its Colleges and Universities

By Holden Thorp, Buck Goldstein

208 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4686-2
    Published: September 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4687-9
    Published: July 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5430-8
    Published: July 2018

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit Bookshop.org
There is a growing sense of crisis and confusion about the purpose and sustainability of higher education in the United States. In the midst of this turmoil, students are frequently referred to as customers and faculty as employees, educational outcomes are increasingly measured in terms of hiring and salary metrics for graduates, and programs are assessed as profit and loss centers. Despite efforts to integrate business-oriented thinking and implement new forms of accountability in colleges and universities, Americans from all backgrounds are losing confidence in the nation's institutions of higher learning, and these institutions must increasingly confront what has proven to be an unsustainable business model. In Our Higher Calling, Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein draw on interviews with higher education thought leaders and their own experience, inside and outside the academy, to address these problems head on, articulating the challenges facing higher education and describing in pragmatic terms what can and cannot change--and what should and should not change. They argue that those with a stake in higher education must first understand a fundamental compact that has long been at the heart of the American system: a partnership wherein colleges and universities support the development of an educated and skilled citizenry and create new knowledge in exchange for stable public investment and a strong degree of autonomy to pursue research without undue external pressure. By outlining ways to restore this partnership, Thorp and Goldstein endeavor to start a conversation that paves the way for a solution to one of the country’s most pressing problems.

About the Authors

Holden Thorp is editor-in-chief for the Science family of journals.
For more information about Holden Thorp, visit the Author Page.

Buck Goldstein is Professor of the Practice and University Entrepreneur in Residence (Emeritus) in the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship at UNC-Chapel Hill.
For more information about Buck Goldstein, visit the Author Page.


"A challenging but arguably hopeful outlook on issues facing higher education in the United States. Given its rationale and recommendations, the book reads much like a strategic plan for higher education leaders."—College and University

What can higher education do to reverse public and political skepticism about it--even hostility toward it? More than anything, say Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein, American higher education must work to restore the compact that has long underpinned it--a tacit agreement in which academe produces knowledge and well-educated citizens in exchange for stable public investment and the autonomy to get on with its job."—The Chronicle of Higher Education

"American higher education has long enjoyed intricate partnerships with government and society, but in recent decades, those have frayed. Thorp and Goldstein offer penetrating insights about the challenges faced as well as a comprehensive prescription for a new and enduring compact."—Mary Sue Coleman, president, Association of American Universities

"U.S. higher education critics complain that tuitions are too high, while students are terrified they will have too much debt without the twenty-first-century job skills to pay it off. Thorp and Goldstein argue convincingly that innovation and entrepreneurial approaches can reengineer, reenergize, and reposition the sector to be the undisputed best in the world."—Michael L. Lomax, president & CEO, United Negro College Fund

Multimedia & Links

Watch the book trailer: