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Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money

James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield

BUY Cloth · 304 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813923314 · $32.50 · Apr 2005

Frederic W. Ness Book Award, Association of American Colleges and Universities (2007)

Since 1965 an increasing preoccupation with money has resulted in the inversion of its role in higher education, from a practical means to an end that crowds out all others. No longer do students and parents choose the best education that "money can buy." Instead, they are faced with choosing which college or university will "buy them more money." This comes as no real surprise, as the cost of attending a four-year college has doubled since 1985. Yet the question persists: at what real cost are we sending our students to college?

Renowned educator James Engell and coauthor Anthony Dangerfield explore the answer to this question in Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money. They argue that the counterbalancing attitudes that used to temper a focus on money with other equally legitimate and more fundamental goals have steadily weakened, resulting in a new consensus that elevates money and the marketing of oneself and one’s institution to the foremost ambitions of the intellectual world. This new minimization of higher education to the category of an investment to be repaid has damaged all disciplines not directly associated with money, particularly the humanities. Students often now are told they face a choice: between the practical sciences, business, and economic success, or the traditional liberal arts and sciences and expected poverty.

In their comprehensive analysis of admission practices, institutional rankings, salaries, hiring practices, scholarships, student attitudes, tuition costs, research programs, library budgets, and class barriers, Engell and Dangerfield expose the major changes that the Age of Money has wrought in higher education while also offering a practical method of understanding and prioritizing the various elements involved in choosing the right school. Focusing on liberal arts and sciences colleges, private research universities, and flagship public institutions, the authors provide an explicit and coherent model of what an academic institution should offer, while encouraging individual institutions to retain their unique identities.

Written for a general audience as well as for professionals, Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money will appeal to teachers and administrators, parents of students and prospective students, students and faculty in schools of higher education, and anyone interested in intellectual life.


There are of late several good books about the crisis in higher education, but this is the one that is indispensable.

Robert N. Bellah, co-author of Habits of the Heart and recipient of the National Humanities Medal

In recent years, the ethic of the marketplace has transformed America's elite universities. Money talks, whether it's in the science lab where industry contracts shape research agendas, or the English department where star professors write their own ticket. This provocative and elegantly written book details how that state of affairs came to be and the dangers it poses to the academy. It sounds an alarm that needs to be heard by anyone concerned about the soul of the university.

David L. Kirp, University of California, Berkeley, author of Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education

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