A New American University: The New Gold Standard Next


The lineage of our nation’s research universities is venerable, but their form today does not necessarily represent a final stage in their development beyond which no further evolution is possible. On the contrary, universities are complex organisms capable of marked regional variation and change over time.

In building a new American university here in Arizona, one has to rethink some of the basic design imperatives on which universities have historically been based. I wish to foster a different kind of university, one that is linked to its setting and the needs of our day, one that does not measure its success based on an historic and in many ways antiquated set of design elements. I wish to foster a university that is a function of its contemporary environment, rather than the replication of an entity that was derived in another setting and in another time.

I do not propose totally abandoning past design elements—many have been enormously successful. Rather, I propose various new design imperatives that reflect the needs of a world that in many ways has changed beyond recognition since the rise of the medieval universities nearly a millennium ago, and even the development of land grant universities 150 years ago. I propose these design elements to respond to the explosion in knowledge production, increased specialization in academic disciplines, the rise of new disciplines, and the collapse of disciplinary boundaries that has increasingly taken place during the past half century.

This morning I would like to outline the key design imperatives that I envision for Arizona State University that will enable us to become the leading public metropolitan research university in the United States. In each case I will outline the design imperative, present examples of what we have already initiated, discuss what we plan to initiate as rapidly as possible, and outline a broader vision for what we hope to accomplish.

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