Copying Harvard too costly, colleges need new model, say Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring

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  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    June 20, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    One of the reasons students do well after leaving elite universities like Harvard is that the competition is so strenuous, both the get in and to stay in. A rising tide lifts all boats.

    Another reason is that students' minds are really challenged. Great universities challenge students' ways of thinking (BYU, I think, is a great univerisity, by the way; it is increasingly being recognized as such; it challenges the young people who go there; you might be surprised at the wide variety of thinking that goes on at the school). I studied with and fought with a Marxist professor at the University of California and found, after all the frustration and disagreement, that it was very good for me; I learned a lot. I mean to suggest that great universities will not be dominated by either liberals or conservatives, but will have truly open thinkers.

    If the Harvard model of governance, funding, and teaching is being rejected as obsolete, by all means keep the Harvard model of excellence, competition, and respect for thinking.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
    June 20, 2011 9:34 a.m.

    @The Rock

    You said:
    "The children of baggage handlers, construction workers and janitors cannot pay the tuition at elite universities."

    Maybe I was too subtle. Yes, I agree. Universities who have brought in statisticians to squeeze as much value out of their applicants so that they can shift the supply-demand curve too higher revenues and still match some standard of diversity dictated by the Chronicle of Higher Education no longer are providing a true liberal education.


  • Wally West SLC, UT
    June 19, 2011 7:04 p.m.

    re: TheProudDuck | 1:04 p.m. June 18, 2011

    Agreed about Stanford's bias.

    I don't disagree about Engineering & the hard sciences being more conservative.

    Could it be because there is a fixed process in place and/or because liberals are more comfortable with the theoretical?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 18, 2011 10:40 p.m.

    re Taipei Moderate

    You said

    Even the smartest guy in the world with all of the best interpersonal skills and street smarts will struggle to get elite opportunities graduating from UVU, the U, and other programs.


    While its true that a graduate from an Ivy league school will get better job offers at higher pay upon graduation than others, other people can be just as successful. They have to achieve this success after they are hired, or they can start their own business.


    re Nosea | 7:59 p.m. June 17, 2011

    The advantage elite universities have over some others is they don't have to cater to those not prepared to be at university. Some community colleges doand their education is substandard as a result. The elite universities are free to go full speed ahead. I graduated in engineering from Utah State University. Though not an elite university, its school of engineering provided a solid education and I was impressed with the other classes I took too. Utah State University engineering graduates can compete with any in the world, but the job offers / pay levels they get don't match what graduates of ivy league level graduates get.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    June 18, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    Harvard brochure:

    "Loans are not required; home equity is not used in aid calculations

    Free for parents with incomes under $60,000

    Zero to 10 percent of annual family income for those from $60,000 to $180,000 with normal
    Financial assets

    Aid available for some families with incomes above $180,000 facing unusual financial challenges."

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    June 18, 2011 2:56 p.m.


    "The most liberal thing that a university can do is to be a good educational value so that the children of baggage handlers, construction workers and janitors can get a good education and move out of poverty."

    The children of baggage handlers, construction workers and janitors cannot pay the tuition at elite universities.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    June 18, 2011 1:04 p.m.

    "Elite universities are both conservative like Chicago, Stanford, and MIT"

    Stanford? STANFORD??!!?

    Stanford has the conservative Hoover Institution think tank tucked away on a corner of the campus. Trust me, the rest of the place is anything but conservative.

    Except the engineering department, of course. Hard sciences tend to be conservative, because liberal touchy-feely pretense doesn't translate well into disciplines where you actually have to get and care about the right answer.

  • milhouse Atlanta, GA
    June 18, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    I wouldn't call Princeton particularly "liberal." They are home to one of the most conservative social think tanks in the country. Also, the idea that academics as a whole is unjustly liberal is baloney. After all, the facts tend to have a liberal bias.

    But what I don't understand is the obsession with the Ivy League. Is it the nation's best university? Yes. But public universities like Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, California, Georgia Tech, and Washington compete with the Ivy League on an equal or higher academic level in many fields. Not to mention private non-Ivy schools like Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Emory, and USC. Even BYU and Utah graduates are widely respected at the national level; I'm a BYU grad, and got into Georgia Tech's engineering graduate school over people who went to MIT and Stanford.

    There is a long list of universities that successfully apply the traditional academic model, to the benefit of their communities and alumni. I think Christensen and Eyring's study is not aimed at major schools like the U, the Y and Utah State, but rather Dixie State, SUU, and UVU.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
    June 18, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    The most liberal thing that a university can do is to be a good educational value so that the children of baggage handlers, construction workers and janitors can get a good education and move out of poverty.

    Everything else is just talk.


  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    June 18, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    Public K-12 education is very expensive as well costing over $20,000 per student in many states. Public schools are at the 50% percentile by definition.

    Homeschooling is much less expensive (okay, they get free labor) with some curricula costing as little as $99 for a full K-12 program. There are many free resources online.

    In homeschooling children read and discuss classic books, work real world math problems and turn their kitchen into a chemistry laboratory. Families hire or trade tutoring when necessary. They also form groups and go on field trips.

    I see zero reason that for non-laboratory classes universities could not adopt a similar model. Such a university would consist of a library, tutoring center and a testing center. The library could be either a traditional library or web based. Lectures, when necessary or desired, could be delivered via U-Tube (University Tube). Just stick a camcorder in each classroom for a year and upload the video.

    Discussion groups would also be web bases. They could be as simple as a group page on Facebook.

    If the emphasis were on reducing costs rather than maximizing expense we would be amazed at the results.

  • TaipeiModerate New Haven, CT
    June 18, 2011 10:18 a.m.

    All of your contempt for elite universities misses the point. Elite universities are both conservative like Chicago, Stanford, and MIT, and liberal like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and exist as a required signaling method for students to get hired by the best companies, get start up capital for ventures, and succeed in politics.

    Mckinsey or Goldman hire from these schools because they know that the student quality is going to be great and these grads are palatable to lay people. Even the smartest guy in the world with all of the best interpersonal skills and street smarts will struggle to get elite opportunities graduating from UVU, the U, and other programs.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 18, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    A Harvard level education can not make up for a lack luster secondary education. Now that algebra and geometry are manditory for everyone, it is necessary to have an honors class in both of these for those students who desire to become scholars, i.e. our future scientists and engineers. An honors class is one where challenging problems are given, where the proofs of the theorems presented and done by the students.

    A student who has a substandard secondary education will not have this made up in a quality university.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    June 18, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    If you think higher education is expensive, you should try ignorance!

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    June 18, 2011 9:12 a.m.

    Its not where you get your education but what you do with it. Remember an encounter on the bus with a man with a master's degree in physics from Cal Tech. He was a street person who shared his carefully laid out travel plan showing and rating homeless shelters in the US and how long he could stay. When I asked him why he didn't use his education to get a job his answer was, why? Then I would have to pay taxes and put up with a boss. The smartest scientist I ever met graduated from South Dakota School of Mines and the most bumbling from Oxford.

  • Samaritan01 Yuma, CO.
    June 18, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    We've seen some real bubble-headed (so-called) leaders come out of Harvard in the last several decades. I agree that universities should stop imitating Harvard at least in their tendency to hire secular leftists who spread their nonsense to youthful, naive minds.

  • owlmaster2 Kaysville, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    Yeah, DN Subscriber, Palin knows all about higher education.
    She attended enough universities that she has a view from several different points and she can still see Russia from her front porch.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 17, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    Nosea above just made an excellent argument as to why Sarah Palin's education is just as qualifying for the Presidency as any of the last several Presidents.

    Of course, the grades of all are known to the public except for the incumbent who strenuously works to keep his grades concealed, along with just about everything else about his background and meager qualifications.

  • Nosea Forest Grove, OR
    June 17, 2011 7:59 p.m.

    Just look at the parade of national leaders and publicly visible people with degrees from the Ivy League schools (George Bush comes to mind, as a classic example), and the blatant lack of knowledge and judgment they display. Also many of the top players in the financial crisis, that nearly sank the world economy, also herald from Harvard and Yale. It all denotes that these elite schools are severely lacking, and certainly do not bestow any greater intelligence than any other accredited university, despite their extravagant costs and overrated curriculum. Rather than imitate the elite schools, they should be regarded as failures not to model and reformed to instill a greater level of intelligence than that we see so clearly on display by some of their most prominent graduates.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    June 17, 2011 7:51 p.m.

    Last thing we need is more GW Bush or Al Gore clones

    Seriously, why spend all that $ to jump thru hoops when the bookstore or the 'net is closer, cheaper, & less stressful??

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 17, 2011 7:16 p.m.

    Underlying all that Harvard does is the hard left wind ideology that infects their faculty.

    Understanding that fact alone justifies basically ignoring everything else Harvard does, if you are truly interested in quality and useful education.

    Much like the New York Times is no longer a role model for the news industry.

    Times are a changing.

  • dave31 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2011 6:28 p.m.

    Don't count on the costs falling. When enrollment declines, the fixed costs must be spread over the smaller enrollment base, the average cost per student increases and the institution appeals to the Legislature for increased funding. Perversely, when the enrollment increases, the institution again appeals to the Legislature, now using the argument that they need more money because of the increased enrollment.

    That's just the way it works!!!

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    June 17, 2011 4:30 p.m.

    Please tell me there is more to this book than hybrid courses. Everybody is doing that already. I guess I should read the book and not rely on the article for a complete picture.

  • Z South Jordan, UT
    June 17, 2011 3:52 p.m.

    Higher Ed is ripe for disruption in the form of invasive technology, competition, and obsolesence of the current model. Those institutions that recognize and adapt will survive. Those that cling to the past will not.

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    June 17, 2011 3:41 p.m.

    Higher Education is the next bubble to pop. Costs are gonna fall fall fall over the next few decades as enrollment drops, and underperforming schools are going to close their doors.