Trachtenberg: "Letters to the Next President"

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January 2009

In Letters to the Next President: Strengthening America’s Foundation in Higher Education, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus of George Washington University, invited academic leaders representing the full range of institutions to write a letter to the next president of the United States regarding the key issues in higher education. In letters from 20 leaders, recurring issues for the incoming president to address include: collaboration with government and business; integration with K-12 education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; international literacy; and maintenance of diverse formats of higher education, including distance learning, single sex schools, and community colleges, to meet the needs of a diverse student population. Individual letters also mentioned the importance not just of research and development, but delivery of technology to business and society; the transformation of a baccalaureate degree from a terminal to a preparatory degree; and the need for higher education to develop a means for outcome-based rather than input-based (SAT scores, for example) assessment. All of these factors contribute to the United States maintaining its position as the world leader in higher education.