The Future of Higher Education: Creating Opportunity, Assessing Value

Friday, April 7, 2017
9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley 

Sponsors: Institute of Governmental Studies and the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

Co Sponsors: Center for Studies in Higher EducationUC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education and the Cal Alumni Association


In the post-World War II era, higher education was expanded to meet the increasing demand for expertise in a changing American economy. American universities not only expanded to meet this need, but in the process provided a pathway to social mobility for millions of citizens. Through government investment, public colleges and universities assumed the largest responsibility in making higher education accessible and affordable to state residents. Over the past two decades, despite increases in student demand for public higher education and steady demand from employers for higher-skilled workers, state funding has declined, forcing public universities to respond with tuition hikes and new funding mechanisms.

This one-day conference will examine the implications of these developments for the future of American universities, students and society. What role should universities play in meeting society’s need for expertise and the individual’s need for socioeconomic security in the 21st century? What value does a higher education degree hold for the individual and for society? Should states increase funding for public universities to accommodate the increasing student demand? If not states, who will – and who should – bear the costs of public higher education, and how can a return on this investment be measured and demonstrated to students, policy makers, and taxpayers?

9:30-9:45am - Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:45-10:15am - Keynote Address

Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Public Policy, UC Berkeley, Co-Chair of The Lincoln Project

10:15-11:45am - Keynote Roundtable: Responses to Disinvestment in Public Higher Education: What is to be done?

Roundtable participants will address the causes and consequences of state disinvestment in public higher education, new funding models developed in response to this trend, and the impacts of new funding models on access and quality.

Chair: Robert Birgeneau


Henry Brady, Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Carol Christ, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley

Ronald Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University

Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University

11:45am-1:15pm - Lunch Break on Your Own

1:15-2:45pm - Panel 1: Investing in Higher Education: Research Universities, Innovation and Economic Impact

This panel will explore value of higher education to the state and to society. How can a return on this investment be measured and demonstrated to students, taxpayers, and policy makers? What are the social and economic benefits generated by research universities and are there any social costs?

Chair: John Zysman, Director, Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy


Martin Kenney, Professor of Community and Regional Development, UC Davis

Sean Randolph, Senior Director, Bay Area Council Economic Institute

Edward Penhoet, Associate Dean of Biology, UC Berkeley

Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor, UC San Diego

2:45-3:00pm - Coffee Break

3:00-4:40pm - Panel 2: Assessing Value: The Worth of a Higher Education for Individuals

This panel will examine the value of a higher education for the individual. Do students get what they pay for? Does a higher education degree lead to good jobs? How do different college pathways and new forms of teaching and learning impact students’ experiences and outcomes? How should the value of a higher education to the individual be measured?


John Douglass, Senior Research Scholar of the Center for Studies in Higher Education


Mike Hout, Professor of Sociology, New York University

James Rosenbaum, Professor of Education and Social Policy, and of Sociology, Northwestern University

Laura Hamilton, Associate Professor of Sociology, UC Merced

Mitchell Stevens, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

Sandy Baum, Policy Fellow at the Urban Institute, Professor Emerita of Economics, Skidmore College

4:40-4:45pm - Closing Remarks

4:45-5:30pm - Hosted Reception