A New American University: The New Gold Standard


A New American University

American research universities are the finest in the world. The breakthroughs in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and fields of technology that are the result of university research are too many to consider. The impact of university research, and university partnership with business and industry on the American economy is profound. The American research university has contributed enormously to the wealth and productivity of the nation.

Our cultural landscape, too, has in many ways been defined by the discovery and scholarship that takes place in our research universities. Through their graduate programs our research universities have been largely responsible for educating successive generations of our nation’s leaders in government, business, and industry, our educators, scientists, engineers, artists, and health care professionals.

But the American research university must not be static—it must be dynamic. In response to the demands and opportunities of a changing world, the American research university must evolve. In recent decades various possible models have been proposed for what many have termed “the new American university.” While each of these models offers insight and ideas, none go far enough to embrace the changes ahead. When I speak of the new American university, I do not refer to any usage except my own, and my vision for Arizona State University.

The new American university would cultivate excellence in teaching, research, and public service, providing the best possible education to the broadest possible spectrum of society. The new American university would embrace the educational needs of the entire population—not only a select group, and not only the verbally or mathematically gifted. The success of the new American university will be measured not by who the university excludes, but rather by who the university includes, and from this inclusion will come its contributions to the advancement of society.

I believe that Arizona State University is uniquely poised to become such an institution. Not only can Arizona State University surpass its existing excellence in teaching, research, and public service, I believe it can break the mold of the current model for the American research university, and serve as a bellwether in its reconceptualization.
The economic and cultural vitality of the State of Arizona is inextricably linked with the vitality of its universities. The transformation of Arizona State University will transform the State of Arizona, enriching it economically and culturally. But let us not limit our vision because the development of a new American university here in Arizona will have impact beyond the borders of our state.

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