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ABELARD TO APPLE: THE FATE OF AMERICAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
MIT Press 2011
Available from Amazon.com on August 26, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tess.Woods@newmancom.com or 617.202.4129

  Megan.Piccirillo@newmancom.com or 617-202-4104

“Both those who welcome and those (like me) who view with alarm the linking of undergraduate education to student career goals should read this wide-ranging and deeply informed analysis of the issues.”

Stanley Fish, Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University

Professor of Humanities and Law, Florida International University,

New York Times columnist, and author of How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One

Abelard to Apple

The Fate of American Colleges and Universities

How institutions of higher learning can rescue themselves from irrelevance and marginalization in the age of iTunes U and YouTube EDU.

Richard A. DeMillo

Why is the cost of college skyrocketing? Is the education getting any better? Why are universities so slow to change? How important is research or that new student center?  Does intercollegiate athletics hurt or help academics? What exactly is tenure and is it a good thing?

Academic insider, Richard DeMillo, Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities, Distinguished Professor of Computing and Professor of Management at Georgia Institute of Technology, pulls the curtain back on American Colleges and Universities in his new book, ABELARD TO APPLE: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities (MIT Press, October 4, 2011).

Having spent years in both academia and industry (Hewlett-Packard’s first Chief Technology Officer), DeMillo points out that higher education is, suddenly, a rapidly growing marketplace and if a large majority of institutions aren’t able to change, they could face extinction.

There are two thousand or so private and public institutions that DeMillo describes as “the Middle”– reputable educational institutions, yet not considered equal to the elite and entrenched upper echelon of the Ivy League and other prestigious schools.

In ABELARD TO APPLE, DeMillo issues a warning — to the Middle, to parents, students, alumni, employers, and politicians — “It’s not too late to change. But if things don’t change, many colleges and universities are heading for irrelevance and marginalization.”

This is a book that should be read like a novel. Each chapter reveals a little more about the forces shaping our institutions, the character of American higher education, and why some universities make good choices while others do not. DeMillo argues that if the Middle can define a compelling value proposition and focus on delivering it, there is hope.

ABELARD TO APPLE culminates with DeMillo’s road map for change with ten rules for the 21st century, including:

  • Define your value – forget who is above you and stop the “institutional envy” by comparing yourself.
  • Become an architect – find a way to balance the faculty-centrism and the student-centrism. A university that focuses too intently on the needs of its faculty eventually becomes inflexible and bogged down by minutia.
  • Use technology – do not assume that technology will alter the landscape without fundamental institutional change. Use technology to focus on value creation.
  • Cut costs in half – cross subsidies with athletics, technology licensing, research, and other services that do not contribute directly to education bloat expenses.

 

ABELARD TO APPLE chronicles how higher education arrived at its current state, from European universities based on a medieval model to American land-grant colleges to Apple’s iTunes U and MIT’s OpenCourseWare and how institutions, clinging to a centuries-old model, are ignoring the social, historical, and economic forces at work in today’s world.

 

“The key economic lesson of the last decade – that compelling value is needed in order to prosper when there are abundant inexpensive choices – has not been internalized by American institutions, which for the most part continue making investments to climb academic hierarchies in a costly, rigged game that they cannot win,” states DeMillo.

For more information about ABELARD TO APPLE or to arrange an interview with Richard DeMillo, please contact Newman Communications.

About the Author

Richard A. DeMillo is Distinguished Professor of Computing and Professor of Management, former John P. Imlay Dean of Computing, and Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Institute of Technology. Author of over 100 articles, books, and patents, he has held academic positions at Purdue University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Padua. He directed the Computer and Computation Research Division of the National Science Foundation and was Hewlett-Packard’s first Chief Technology Officer.

Abelard to apple

The Fate of American Colleges and Universities

By Richard A. DeMillo

MIT Press

$29.95 cloth; 978-0-262-01580-6

October 4, 2011

Advanced Praise for

ABELARD TO APPLE

 

“Both those who welcome and those (like me) who view with alarm the linking of undergraduate education to student career goals should read this wide-ranging and deeply informed analysis of the issues.”

Stanley Fish, Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University

Professor of Humanities and Law, Florida International University,

New York Times columnist, and author of How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One

“This thoroughly engaging book provides a view of higher education that is future-oriented and technology-savvy yet rooted in the sweeping historical pageant of the world’s universities. It brings more than a little tough love to our sometimes self-satisfied American research universities while acknowledging and encouraging boldness in facing today’s challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities. It is a unique volume and should be read by all who care about the future of higher education.”

Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering, and President Emeritus, MIT

“Using a plethora of examples, quotes from intellectuals, and his own analysis and experience, DeMillo beautifully and forcefully argues for change. University administrators, including the Presidents, Provosts, and the Deans, will find this book an asset as they consider curricular and structural changes in the face of the immense popularity of the Internet.”

Aditya P. Mathur, Professor of Computer Science, Purdue University

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