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Published on February 16th, 2014 | by editor

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Higher Education’s Goals and Future – for Wright’s Philosophy Club

The Wright College Philosophy Club, ably advised by Humanities faculty member Adrian Guiu, hosted an engaging panel discussion this week on the goals and future of higher education. Speakers included Ted O’Neill, former of Dean of Admission at University of Chicago (and current instructor in UC’s humanities division); Raissa Landor, Great Books faculty at Wright; Saghi Gazerani, faculty for Humanities and Religion at Wright; Wright College students Bill Burns, Teejan Alissa, and Christopher Joyce, and me. Turnout was good and the conversation lively.

I am not able to do justice the presentations of my fellow panelists. I can, though, summarize the my comments: our democracy needs a higher education system that provides quality and opportunity to everyone who wants to learn. If we don’t pay attention and take appropriate steps, higher education can exacerbate the distance between those people that have and those that do not. We are already seeing more of that distinction in higher educational institutions themselves as the rich institutions become wealthier and many public institutions face decreased support. If the trend continues, it will work to everyone’s disadvantage.

The issues of access and excellence in education are closely connected and of equal importance. It is not enough for community colleges like Wright to provide opportunities for everyone. We have to work very hard to make sure that the quality of education is always improving and has value in the marketplace and in four-year and graduate institutions. That is the focus of Reinvention – and the reason that things are always changing, always improving. There are no shortcuts and no easy degrees, either. The value of an education – be it expressed in difficult courses, challenging assignments, our curricular innovation – almost always corresponds directly with hard work.

David Potash

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