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Understanding Institutional Diversity in American Higher Education: ASHE Higher Education Report, 39:3

Understanding Institutional Diversity in American Higher Education: ASHE Higher Education Report, 39:3

Michael Harris

ISBN: 978-1-118-81785-8

Aug 2013, Jossey-Bass

152 pages



Institutional diversity serves as one of the fundamental hallmarks of American higher education. After a long history of support for many institutional types, the past 40 years have seen a decline in institutional variety. Through a discussion of history, theoretical contexts, and causes of homogenization, this monograph examines how higher education policymakers and leaders can strengthen institutional mission and preserve the benefits of institutional diversity.

Higher education needs to serve a variety of functions for students, from liberal arts education to vocational training programs. No single institution or institutional type can adequately fulfill all of these roles, and this monograph considers the rewards and challenges of maintaining a healthy, beneficial diversity. It also covers the roles, purposes, trials, and benefits of institutional diversity. It provides practical examples and theoretical perspectives useful in understanding the complexities of higher education systems and the external pressures faced by colleges and universities that challenge institutional mission and threaten institutional diversity and its well-established benefits for students and society.

This is the third issue of the 39th volume of the Jossey-Bass series ASHE Higher Education Report. Each monograph is the definitive analysis of a tough higher education issue, based on thorough research of pertinent literature and institutional experiences. Topics are identified by a national survey. Noted practitioners and scholars are then commissioned to write the reports, with experts providing critical reviews of each manuscript before publication.

Executive Summary vii

Foreword xi

Defining Institutional Diversity 1

Aspects of Institutional Diversity 4

Diversity Versus Diversification Versus Differentiation 9

Interactions With the Environment 12

Overview of the Monograph 14

Historical Context of Institutional Diversity 17

Growth During the Colonial Period 18

Establishing American Higher Education 19

Failure of the National University Idea 20

Institution Building 23

The Changing Curriculum 24

Rise of the Research University 25

Transition From Elite to Mass Higher Education 28

The Postwar Period 31

Conclusion 35

Theoretical Contexts 37

Population Ecology 37

Resource Dependency Th eory 42

Institutional Theory 44

Conclusion 48

Benefits of Institutional Diversity 49

Meeting the Needs of All Types of Students 49

Increased Institutional Effectiveness 51

Provide Models 54

Support Reform Th rough Competition 55

Serve the Political Needs of Interest Groups 57

Protecting Academic Freedom and Autonomy 58

Support Elite and Mass Higher Education 61

Improve Social Mobility 62

Minority-Serving Institutions 64

Conclusion 67

Causes of Homogenization 69

Academic Drift 70

Prestige-Maximizing Activities 73

Statewide Coordination 79

Conclusion 82

The Future of Institutional Diversity Research and Practice 83

Market Smart and Mission Centered 84

Policymakers 85

Campus Leaders and Administrators 89

Faculty 92

Students 94

Conclusion 95

References 97

Name Index 111

Subject Index 116

About the Author 121