In the face of the dominant World Class University rhetoric and ranking paradigm, most academic leaders and their academic communities have had difficulty conceptualizing and articulating their grander purpose and multiple engagements with society. Some seem to wait for the next ministerial edict to help or push them toward greater societal relevancy – often limited to improved global rankings. This essay discusses the evolving idea of the Flagship University, its past and future, and the need to develop and articulate a more holistic and modern narrative regarding the role of these important institutions. The New Flagship University is an institution grounded in its historical purpose, but remarkably different in its devotion to access and equity, to the quality of its teaching, research and public services mission, and to meeting national and regional socioeconomic needs. This paper discusses some of the central themes in the book, The New Flagship University, and includes observations in recent articles by scholars and researchers on their relevancy in various parts of the world. Leading national or Flagship Universities are now more important for socioeconomic mobility, for knowledge production, for generating economic and civic leaders, and for pushing innovation and societal self-reflection than in any other time in their history. 

Publication date: 
December 1, 2016
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
THE EVOLUTION OF FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITIES: From the Traditional to the New by John Aubrey Douglass, UC Berkeley CSHE 11.16 (December 2016)