The American Research University: The Decades Ahead

>> From the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C >> Jane McAuliffe: Good afternoon I’m Jane McAuliffe, the Director of National and International Outreach here at the Library of Congress And I’m delighted to welcome you to this afternoon’s lecture As I make this welcome, I will also make the request that you are now very used to which is to silence your cell phones before we get started And also to say that we are filming the lecture today, and it will be placed on both the Library and the Kluge Center websites Because our lecture this afternoon is hosted by the John W. Kluge Center I like to characterize the Center of which I was recently the Director as the place in the Library of Congress that supports, that showcases, and that celebrates scholarship We support scholarship by hosting over 100 senior and junior scholars in spacious offices and carrels right next door here over the course of a year We showcase scholarship by events like this afternoon, where we have distinguished lecturers, sometimes symposia, sometimes panels, usually in this room And we celebrate scholarship by awarding every few years the Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity, a Nobel Prize-level award in the humanities and social sciences Today’s lecture is by Dr John Sexton and is titled “The American Research University, the Decades Ahead.” Dr. Sexton notes that for more than a century the university has been one of America’s most durable institutions Yet globalization, technology, and market forces are reshaping the research university’s form and its functions So the question for this afternoon is what kind of future can our colleges and universities anticipate? John Sexton is President Emeritus, the Immediate Past President of New York University where he’s also the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law and the Dean Emeritus of NYU’s Law School He took a BA, an MA, and a PhD from Fordham University and then went on to do some JD magna cum laude from Harvard University that he completed in 1979 All through his undergraduate and graduate years he coached the debate team at a Catholic girls’ school, Saint Brenden’s, in Brooklyn, New York, and took them to five national championships After law school John served as a Supreme Court Law Clerk to Justice Warren Burger, Chief Justice Warren Burger, and then joined the NYU Law Faculty in 1981 He was named Dean of the Law School in 1988 And in 2001 he was named President of the University, a position that he held until just this past January As President at NYU he led the University’s global expansion, opening campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai He doubled student applications, he doubled student financial aid, and grew the endowment from 1.14 billion in 2002 to 3.49 billion in 2014 John’s been honored in very many ways He’s a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations He’s the recipient of 17 honorary degrees, and counting And he’s written and published widely He has a leading case book on civil procedure He’s written on the Supreme Court Nice that he spent time here, so close to the court, once again Entitled Redefining the Supreme Court’s Rule, a Theory of Managing the Federal Court System His latest book is entitled Baseball as a Road to God, Seeing Beyond the Game It was published just over two years ago and became a New York Times bestseller The book is based on an undergraduate seminar that John teaches each spring at NYU For the last five months John has been in residence here at the Kluge Center as the Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance This is one of the five chairs articulated in the original founding documents of the Kluge Center During his time here he’s been putting together a book based on essays that he wrote during his years as NYU’s President

about the place and promise of higher education I can guarantee you a very stimulating and interesting conversation this afternoon John Sexton [ Applause ] >> John Sexton: Hmm Thank you very much, Jane And thank you to each of you for being here this afternoon I see several of my colleagues from the Kluge Center I know how valuable the time is, both for the senior scholars and for those that are more junior in their careers It’s a great honor to me that you would take time away from your workshop to come here All of us at the Kluge Center I think echo the words of the great Jaroslav Pelikan in our own way Pelikan, who was the first Kluge Professor, at least in the first class, said that being the Kluge Professor at the Library of Congress is like being a mouse in a cheese factory And in one way or another I think we’ve all had that experience I want to thank the Library of Congress and thank the Kluge Center and most of all thank Jane because Jane is an extraordinary leader in higher education I came to know her first when she was still Dean at Georgetown and then through her time as President of Bryn Mawr and her time leading the Center here and then now on to even more important duties at the Library She’s a great friend and an extraordinary educator And I know I wouldn’t be here but for her indulgence of my eccentricities Now she knows my eccentricities as do many at the Library, and one of them is that it’s a very rare thing for me to be shackled to a podium I think the prophylactic against my usual behavior is the fact that there was no one in the front row until people realized that because of the digitization of this and the stern lecture that I got about the necessity of preserving whatever I’m going to say for the archives, I can’t leave this space, so I want you to know you’re safe But I do mean it Thank you for giving me an hour of your time today, those that stay for the fullness of our talk and the Question and Answer after it I want to thank especially a dear friend who in the process of being a friend also happened to become Governor of New York State, my friend David Patterson who is down principally to have dinner with me and a mutual friend, but somehow wandered into the Library and decided that he could take as much as four or five hours with me since he’s got to leave here after a session with me and go to dinner I want to say this about David In my 14 years as President of NYU, dealt with four governors of our state and — the other three were strong personalities and in some ways strong governors There was no one of the other three and very few leaders that I’ve encountered anywhere who appreciated fully the importance of education, of higher education, and of the research university in particular the way David did He would frequently point out that it was in the depths of the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act and created the Land Grant University School That’s what leadership is about, seeing the long run even in the darkest days And in a way that’s what my talk is about today Now I’m going to start by covering some ground I’ll do it in some ways elliptically because we will reserve some time at the end for colloquy If you have an irresistible urge, you can interrupt me at any time I’m not adverse to that But the way I planned it, at least, is I’ll talk for about 40 minutes and then we’ll open it up for questions I want you to know as we go into this that notwithstanding the very kind introduction from Jane, you could not penetrate through that except if you really played out the fact that I spent 15 years working with high school kids in Brooklyn in and around an educational program built on a debate team You couldn’t really begin to glimpse how eccentric it is for me to be here as the Kluge Professor and to speak to you about higher education after the eccentric way in which I was Dean of NYU’s Law School for 14 years and President of New York University

First of all, never in those 28 years did I lose the essential definition of professional self which one faces, or at least faced before global entry, when you had to list your profession on the card as you returned to the country or entered another country And for me it’s never been anything but the simple word “Teacher.” I can’t even elevate it to Professor It seems to me that the teaching element is the core of what I’ve been professionally It was what I was put on Earth to do So my identity is very much that I was a reluctant Dean and a reluctant President in both cases My son came up with a great phrase to describe this which carried me through 28 years in such positions And he did it, thankfully, in the very first year We had been invited by the Tisch Family Now that’s a name with which you conjure at NYU And we’d been invited by the Tisch Family to go to their — to the owner’s box at a New York Giant football game And I took my son And the other guests in the box were Barbara Streisand and Dan Rather and people of that note, you know And it was a good football game Jed and I were pretty much locked in our seats watching the game for most of the time And in the car on the way home he said to me, “Dad, you’re a comma person.” And I said, “What do you mean, a comma person?” He said, “Well, didn’t you notice that when people came in at halftime to pay homage to Mr Tisch he would say, ‘Oh, and you know Barbara Streisand Oh, you know Dan Rather And you know John Sexton, comma, the Dean of NYU Law School [laughter].'” He said, “Your presence had to be explained to people.” He said, “It wasn’t even the case that my presence had to be explained because I was the little Sexton kid, you know That once you were there, I was there.” And that’s a very useful concept and it was easy for me to embrace it because you have to understand that you are the left-hand side of the comma That’s where you love, that’s where you deal with the transcendent and beautiful things in life And that’s where you are as a human being And then there’s the right-hand side of the comma, and you get all kinds of — you know, I had to tell the comma person story in French when I was inducted into the Legion of Honor because I wanted them to understand I knew they weren’t inducting John from Brooklyn into the Legion of Honor NYU had been in Paris for 40 years and they couldn’t induct NYU into the Legion of Honor, so, you know, there I was, the French comma person, you know So you get the adulation, you get the vilification I have to say one of the huge things that’s happened since January 1st is that, you know, I am now just the left-hand side of the comma, and if I get vilified it will be because of something I do, thank you very much, not because somebody scrolled something in a bathroom someplace But one can never forget the privilege, the privilege of being asked to represent a school, a university, as a Dean or as a President, and to carry the right-hand side of the comma Although throughout my time, and this is more the eccentricity, I continue to write, as Jane indicated, and I continue to teach a full faculty schedule, so in my last year as President I taught five courses, five full courses, and did it by myself because that reminded me what it was about And it was also, to just put the final touch on the eccentricity part of this, it was also my practice not to go on any for-profit boards, that I would only go on boards if they related to education, higher education In the one case of the Federal Reserve Board in New York, the connection was not obvious to me at first, but I became convinced it was important to have the education voice in that conversation And I think it was And I was able to persuade my friend, Lee Bollinger, to succeed me as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York And I think that’s been an important post for us to have for higher education So I come to my conversation about the University and about the vocation of being a professor, being part of the University as if approaching the sacred This is important terrain for me

This is the terrain where I began operating It’s now 56 years ago since I walked into my very first classroom in a formal sense, and it’s been the last 56 years and every semester since I’ve never taken a sabbatical So, to the University First of all, some prefatory words There are 85 institutions in the world today that exist today the way they existed 500 years ago, in form, 85 So the British Parliament, the Vatican, eight cantons in Switzerland That’s 10 of them already off the table Of the remaining 75, 70 are universities That tells us something That tells us something about the durability of this powerful instrument And, of course, the reason for the durability is it deals with that which makes us human at our core — thought and knowledge and creativity What I want to say today is that this durability is to be celebrated But it’s very fragile And particularly fragile today, I think, and I fear that we can see the undermining of this extraordinary institution and the values for which it stands if we’re not careful So there’s danger On the other hand, the maintenance of the University, I will submit — this is the other part of my argument The maintenance of the University is key to any genuine feeling of hope about the advancement of mankind, humankind If one narrows it to the American Research University, I think most people would say — I certainly — there was a collectivity of us in Athens two years ago from all parts of the world We had 12 people and we played a game, you know, we each wrote on a piece of paper how many of the top universities in the world were American And there wasn’t a single person at the table that put the number at less than 40 And then we played a second version of the game which was to say by 2050 how many of the top 50 universities in the world would be American And there wasn’t a single person at the table that put over 25 So I think we could say that the American Research University today is in a halcyon time I think it’s easy in conversations like this to miss the broader picture So let me take a moment to note that I just used the number 40/50, you know I’m in double digits here I was the Chairman of the American Council on Education There are 5000 colleges and universities in the United States I’ve actually had two careers in colleges and universities The latest one was described by Jane While I was working with those high school kids I was at St. Francis College in Brooklyn I call it the Harvard of Brooklyn because it’s the oldest college in Brooklyn But it’s a college, it’s a teaching college It’s for first generation college kids It’s got the lowest tuition of any private school, certainly in New York, maybe in the nation And it’s a glorious place where I was Chairman of the Religion Department And if you were to ask me, you know, so which of these is the superior institution, I would say that’s like asking which is the superior fruit between a banana and a tangerine They’re two different beings Each excellent in its own way And we frequently, in conversations about the research university, because so many of us come from it — certainly so many that are constituents of this Library come from it — we forget that American higher education has as a core strength the fact that it presents itself as a symphony orchestra And you can’t do the “1812 Overture” without the percussion section And I’m not going to say whether Sr Francis is the percussion section of NYU is the percussion section But it’s important to have good percussionists and good brass section and a good string section and so forth in any orchestra And we should begin to think of American higher education in that way That will become important for some of the issues I’ll raise later

Now there’s among the 5000, be sure, there are schools that I would not speak about with the pride that I speak about Sr. Francis College or NYU I mean I’m not saying that all of American higher education is excellent But be careful because when it’s said that American higher education is the best in the world, it’s usually a much less remarkable statement It’s talking about a very narrow band And it’s worth focusing on that band because the research university is the most complex and complete and sophisticated version of tertiary education we’ve created And it deals with the full panoply of human activity and the advancement of thought But we shouldn’t forget the rest is there, the other Now as the center of gravity of excellence in the research university shifts in the direction that that Athens dinner suggested it might, all kinds of things will be happening to the other sections of the orchestra And some of the topics we’re going to talk about today are going to be playing out differently in other sections of the orchestra And I don’t think any of this is to be resisted I certainly don’t think that the concentration of excellence in research universities in the United States is to be resisted The knowledge is not a zero-sum game Indeed, it’s a positive-sum game And Americans — and it strikes me particularly at this moment in our history — Americans are extremely focused in a very narcissistic way about various vertical concentrations, be it of wealth or other resources We don’t talk enough about the enormous concentration horizontally in all of America and a few other countries, vis-à-vis most of the world And in a just world we have to redress not only the vertical but also the horizontal maldistributions that exist The question really should be, does it have to be a zero-sum game or a negative-sum game? I don’t think it does I think it could be a positive-sum game And if that’s the case, then it becomes about quality How do we maintain quality and access, which is talked about far too little? So to me, just to give you the punchline, a good outcome to all of this depends upon some very simple things Two, really The first is that each element of the orchestra be able to articulate clearly and pursue vigorously what the Jesuits taught me to call the Ratio Studiorum, the Ratio Studiorum What’s the purpose of this particular part of the orchestra? What is the purpose of NYU? What is the purpose of St. Francis College? What is the purpose of any institution? What’s the purpose of this class as an offering of the school and — or this department, as a segment of the school? So the Ratio Studiorum, first and second it — I think it turns on, frankly, the quality of faculty The faculty have to be — this doesn’t seem to be a remarkable statement, although it’s honored in the breech — the faculty have to be at least as good as the best students in the school You know, we know how to destroy education systems You do what the New York City Public School System’s done for the last five years You know, you hire teachers that have lower SAT scores than the students you’re graduating That’s a ticket for failure because you’re hiring from the bottom half of the existing class And how can they teach the top of the class? So what we have to do is get faculty that are at least as good, and that are dedicated to what they’re doing, and see themselves as part of the common enterprise of what a university is Failure to attend to these two simple things is very easy It’s politically palatable But it’s corrosive and it’s the real danger that I see So I’m going to talk roughly for about five or six minutes each about three broad trends, and then tie it into one final point And that will be the next 24 minutes or so before I open it up for questions And the three broad trends are the following A trend I perceive which is relevant to the research university, for universities and colleges generally, that has to do with civic discourse and the life of the mind The second is globalization The third is technology Those are three extremely broad trends The fourth topic I want to hit brings it all together I think

and essentially it speaks about both the peril and the promise of education as a determinant of how these trends play out And I think the way we approach education can either make it turn out quite well or quite poorly So let me start with civic discourse in the life of the mind I’m going to move through this with rapidity I’m going to use phrases that I think will capture the reality certainly one sees today in the political and civic discourse of this country I start off by saying the core and essence of the university has to be that the disciplines that have been developed over generations, working together increasingly, discovering connections between themselves in a wonderful way, drive a process of knowledge inculcation, knowledge advancement, creativity And importantly in the modern American research university, providing soul to the professions, be it the doctor who understands the patient as well as the disease, or the lawyer who is [inaudible] and Jeffersonian Those are the purposes of the common enterprise of the university And I say common enterprise because the university merits the full engagement of its participants And it should embrace and value different viewpoints as long as the viewpoints are backed with evidence and not simply assertion I say to my students, “You’re not entitled to opinions in my class You’re entitled to viewpoints and viewpoints can be defended with argument and evidence.” But the university has to — it doesn’t have a viewpoint It values a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints It’s not a political tool owned by some, to be taking positions on various issues In fact, rarely should a university, as the university, act politically outside the core of its means, in my view Now I think we’re at a time when broad societal trends threaten the maintenance of excellence If you want a full explication of this, as Jane said, I’m collecting various what I call reflections of that I’ve written about 10 of them over my time as President at NYU They’re in the nature of pathway arguments, pastoral letters They’re not postcards They’re not research papers They tend to be 40/50 pages long They’re not footnoted I rarely quote from anyone But I try to make visible all the parts of my argument And the one that’s most relevant here I wrote in 2005 and I call the “Dogmatism and Complexity, the Research University and Civil Discourse.” And I’m going to read It’s one of the few times that I quote in the reflection I quoted this little book which, if you haven’t read it, you should read It’s quite remarkable It’s even rarer for me to quote something in a talk like this But this is worth your rearing just for the shock value of it Keeping in mind that it was written 25 years ago by a man who was at that time in his 80s, Albert Hirschman, at the Institute of Advanced Studies In a book called The Rhetoric of Reaction he examines three movements — the French Revolution, the Suffrage Movement, and the Great Society And he traces the rhetoric used both by the progressives and the reactionary in each case, and — It’s interesting that he says at the top — just listen to this This is the basic thesis of the book “The very stability and proper functioning of a well-ordered democratic society depend on its citizen arraying themselves in a few major, ideally two, clearly defined groups holding different opinions on basic policy issues It can easily happen that these groups become walled off from each other In this sense, democracy continuously generates its own walls As the process feeds upon itself over time, each group will, at some point, ask about the other in utter puzzlement and often with mutual revulsion How did they ever get to be that way?” Now he wrote that in 1991, ladies and gentlemen

And I quoted it because I was concerned after watching the Presidential Debates in 2004, okay? Today in 2016 things are exponentially worse Just a couple of bullets These are things that one easily could not notice even if you’re not a sports fan Tonight, before you turn to MSNBC or Fox or to CNN, turn on Sports Center on ESPN for 15 minutes and watch it And you’re going to find that the political coverage uses the same kind of music, the same kind of hype introduction, the same level of content, frankly, as does Sports Center There’s a focus Just start doing a mental clock on this, okay, as you watch the coverage on MSNBC, Fox, CNN, whatever you want, even the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal Focus on who’s ahead, predictions on the race It’s like the Kentucky Derby’s coming up Okay? An obsession with personality The salacious, the provocative, indulgent of demagogues You know, right and left You know, one says that everybody in politics is a moron Another says the politics is all corrupt and rig I mean, it’s the same kind of broad-stroke demagoguery in my view So nice to be, after January 1st, when I’m not a comma person anymore and I can just tell you what I think about things like this Very little attention to the issues Still less to what we in competitive debate — my book on high school kids know that if you don’t extend the argument, you know, the first negative makes a point, the second affirmative has to extend on that Then the second negative and into the rebuttals, right? It doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen Just stay away from this year I’ll use an example from 2004 John Edwards, remember him? Serious candidate Forty debates I watched In every one of those 40 debates he said, “I grew up in a mill town My father lost his job I didn’t vote for NAFTA.” One of my Brooklyn High School girls would have asked in first course examination, “Would you repeat NAFTA, Senator?” He was never asked that question in debates He was asked two-thirds of the way through the campaign by the New York Times Editorial Board, and he said, “Of course I wouldn’t repeal NAFTA.” What just happened to your campaign, Senator? Okay. But we don’t extend arguments And there’s such a devaluation of seriousness that you actually hear experts saying that a person that takes issue seriously and gets into detail and nuance and complexity, by virtue of doing that lacks charisma Right? So that’s the ultimate critique, isn’t it? So we’ve developed, as a society, a shrinking attention span We’ve allyded [assumed spelling] news and entertainment We’ve got a coliseum culture that we’ve developed, and an allergy to nuance and complexity Ladies, and gentlemen, what do research universities do? We do nuance and complexity This is not good for us, okay? This portends, I am telling you, an evitable working out over the next generation, with no end in sight, of a disinvestment in education generally, in high higher education That has to come from a society that is making thought an accusation You think too much Less investment in research, less investment in education as a public good, and, certainly, scapegoating as to the results, right? So even as the money is withdrawn from subsidizing the cost of higher education, we scapegoat those who are running higher education The money’s gone away Oh, by the way, one of the solutions we’ll do is we’ll increase compliance reporting So you have to hire more people and then we will point to the increase in the number of administrators Okay. You’re looking at the President of one of the 20 colleges and universities that was chosen, quote, at random, close quote, by Senator Grassley for a full IRS audit Just at random, you know, like the little thing that goes off with TSA And a year-and-a-half, four IRS offices at NYU day in and day out Imagine the administrative time consumed by that We got a clean bill of health in the end

But a year-and-a-half And then, you know, we, ourselves, undermine the ideal I was, of course, a member of the Association of American Universities beginning in 2001 And as we began to launch a major justification of the research university with the Norm Augustine report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” I argued as vigorously I could, to no effect, that this was a Faustian bargain, that if you start justifying what universities do on a basic utilitarianism, you’re going to run directly into undermining yourself as there’s an impact on the humanities, and then the social sciences, and then on basic research in the sciences, and creativity goes off the agenda And short term results become important Now, that’s the dark side It’s still the case that our universities are the greatest counterforce to these activities and these trends Or at least they can be It requires profiles in courage This is a moment where we have to stand up, where we have to sing the song of thought And we have to start honoring people who engage in serious conversation and we have to shame those who don’t And we have to figure out vehicles And I suggest some in my reflection We have to figure out vehicles whereby to do that with consortia that essentially say, people are — you know, like the Pinocchio stuff, but on a more serious level Are people engaging in serious conversation? Okay. So there’s a dogmatism that’s developing an allergy to nuance and complexity That’s not good for universities But if we have the courage to step forward and we see it coming — we have been around for more than 500 years We are — we do do thought That is what makes us human What about globalization? I’m going to be brief on this and technology because I want to get to the questions, and I do want to reserve some time for my windup So, on globalization Look, hello, here I am PhD in Religion, Fordham, in college for four to five years at a Vatican Council, then getting my PhD in the wake of the Vatican Council The word ecumenism means something to me Okay. It means, when you translate it into the secular sphere, that there’s a big premium that you receive if you can look at life, not through the one window you’re given at birth, but through the many windows in the many rooms of the mansion This is the ecumenical, the secular ecumenical mindset Globalization is happening And I’m not just talking about economic globalization I mean the other is in our lives The world is miniaturizing The question is, how do we respond to it? And there were two responses One is building on the elegy to nuance and complexity, the devaluation of thought, is to move to a competitiveness we versus they rationale, around a world, most recently in Austria You see the answer in neon signs, “Let me alone Let me live with folks like me.” You see the response of essentially building up walls We don’t put in the hard work of understanding globalization My cousins, who are carpenters and electricians and real workers, you know, people that really do things and I adore them and I adore their values as human beings, but they want to shop at Walmart and Costco even as they complain about the jobs leaving that are creating the products that they’re getting at a lesser price because the jobs have left, so — and no one wants to get into the genuineness of that And the problem is, in part, that there is a face on the negative effect of globalization, whereas there’s no face on — maybe the closest is Pope Francis But think, is there a world leader out there that’s stepping out and explaining globalization? The answer’s no So reaction one is fear, negativism, protectionism Reaction two, which is, by the way, where universities have been

through the centuries, has been the ecumenical reaction, okay? Embrace engagement, see the gifts of difference, and the other as a great gift to be studied The choice is for or against common enterprise And I would submit to you that, again, universities are the key here The universities have always been global There’s always been a world community of ideas Universities have been about communication and understanding Increasingly the world is developing a network of what I call idea capitals, ideals capitals that are animated not only by the old things — FIRE, FIRE, finance, insurance, and real estate — but a new element that’s necessary for the modern idea capital, the intellectual, cultural, and educational, ICE We have to FIRE and ICE together And universities are in the FIRE and ICE business We do ICE We do the intellectual, cultural, and educational Now, how universities will respond to globalization and embrace that notion of ecumenism in the [inaudible] We have many, many different ones I mean, NYU is all in, but others will do it through bilateral arrangements, associations and consortia, co-chairing There are any number of ways to do it But most of all, we have to model a set of things as we address globalization We, the university community, we have to model the celebration of thought, the positive-sum consequences of common enterprise and cooperation This means maybe coopetition, if not cooperation, but not competition It’s not seeing it as zero-sum It means sharing Sufferings is to technology Technology will be, as they say, disruptive insofar as it will cause change in many areas But it’s easy to overstate the degree of disruption that technology will cause in higher education Those who make a major claim of disruption tend to have a very narrow understanding of what education is They see it principally as information acquisition And there’ll be parts of the orchestra where that will be significant, but not the part of the orchestra in which the research university does most of its operation I’m going to get more concrete on this in a moment But I mean, look, my life now, in addition to my being a faculty member at NYU, is occupied trying to bring education to kids around the world — primary, secondary, and tertiary — who just don’t have a shot at a meaningful education today Want to hear a scary number? Eight-five million, 85 million primary and secondary-age children in the world will go through life, unless we change things, never having met a teacher Nobody’s even trying to educate them, you know? And some of them are in cities in India or Brazil, in the slums Some of them are in remote areas Some of them are in warzones Some of them are in abjectly poor countries Some of them are in refugee camps where, once a kid gets to a refugee camp, the average time he or she is there is 10 years, okay? Eight-five million kids never meet a teacher Another 260 million, even if they get a stamp that says they graduated from high school, won’t be able to read They have a fourth-grade reading level So, you know, technology can help a lot, okay? But it’s not a panacea even for those kids That’s where I’ll end But the key is, would we want our kids to have what those kids are likely to have? Yeah, we have people in this country saying to the poor, the uninformed, the unconnected, send your kid to an online school, $10,000 college degree And those same people are paying tutors to prepare the kids for the SAT so that they can get into a list of 20 or 30 or 40 schools that I guarantee you are not online schools So we have to be a little bit, you know, Rawlsian about this, right? A little John Rawls here Am I advising others to do what I would do with my kids? This is, you know, the educational version of fighting wars with other people’s children The argument is made, though, what — even in the research university,

technology or, you know, it will help address this issue of cost, you know, cost is going up, it’s going up We’ve got to suppress cost Well, yeah, there are places, I could tell you You know, we — I have lived for the last five years for a budget with an annual operating budget north of $7 billion a year throughout my [inaudible] I think we started at $5 billion a year These are big budgets, you know Can you save money with technology in them? Sure, you know In fact, we managed to save a good bit of money But what about in the academic sense? Well, yeah, there are places You know, Language 101 courses, you know The most basic language courses You could save money there by doing it technologically rather than with a professor or a supplement of professors But most of the areas where you would integrate technology into the research university either do not save money or drive costs up So to flip a classroom makes the experience in the classroom better by having the kids to technological exercise before they come But it doesn’t save money, okay? In fact, when you think about it, at the really top universities, the ones we’re talking about when we use the word research university I mean I can’t — at my Tisch Film School, I can’t have a camera for more than two years Otherwise I’m not training the kids for the industry So there’s a technological half-life, you know The first decision I had to make as President was, you know, you go for an MRI There’s a 1.5 Tesla Machine that reads you for the doctor Research university, it’s a 3 Tesla Machine which is — it’s logarithmic so it’s much more than twice as powerful, okay? My guys wanted the only 7 Tesla Machine in the country Seven Tesla “How much does that cost, Bob,” I said to the Dean Forty million dollars This does not save money, okay? Now, it might cure diseases more quickly Technology does not save money at research universities, net, net, net, net, net So the biggest impact of technology in my view, and this is where I’ll close on this and segue to my final punchline The biggest impact is, frankly, when it’s rarely mentioned I think everything from the mooks to something called the University of the People Now I’m Chairman of the Board at the University of the People I’ve been Chairman for seven years What’s the University of the People? Well, if you’re a high school graduate, you’re fluent in English, you have access to the Internet, and you are abjectly poor, you’re automatically admitted Welcome aboard, no matter where you are in the world And you’ll get an accredited in the United States, accredited, free college education Here it is All open source materials You sign up for courses There are volunteer professors that have made up the curriculum and work with the 32 students in the class that do peer-peer learning largely And then they get the final exam and they take a secure final exam and they get a grade and they’ve now passed, you know, English 10 And you aggregate your 36 courses just the way you would in a college if you were in Amherst or New York City or Washington, D.C., and you graduate You’ve got an accredited degree We had the graduation ceremony for our first seven students last year But we’re now up to 3000 students And that’s technology doing something good But, but, but, but, now wait a minute What about this Rawlsian thing? What about these other people’s children thing, you know? Would you send your Jed or your Katie, your children, to the University of the People? No. And we shouldn’t trap anybody in the University of the People either So what we’ve started to do, and so far, we’ve got three cooperating universities — NYU, Berkeley, and University College London — that at the end of the first year, the University of the People will look at the top 10% of the class for transfer in and now you’re moving up a ladder Thank you very much Now maybe the first step would be the St. Francis College when we get this thing going worldwide But use technology and things like the University of the People, things like mooks, as search engines for talent But then make the ladders up available That’s the way technology could be used And this brings me to my fourth and final topic That is this There’s peril and promise in what I see in the decades ahead The peril is that, as we’ve seen work out in so many areas,

that now higher education, formerly the instrument of opportunity, will become the way to lock in a caste system that is more powerful than any caste system ever created by a religion, where we send the children of the poor, the uninformed, the unconnected, to $10,000 online colleges where they neither get the quality of education that we understand at some level, the kids at St Francis and at NYU and at Georgetown and at Harvard are getting You know, we get that You know, there’s something going [inaudible] because that’s where we want to send our kids You know, I come from a city where people pay $35,000 a year for kindergarten And they fight the people that have all the knowledge and all the money and all the connections to get their kids in What do they know? What do they know? Okay? It’s so simple Just will you do it for your kids? And the fear is that, you know, in the past the elites would give a fortune to their kids and there was some chance their kids would squander it But now we’re giving kids of the elite’s education that others aren’t getting and we’re giving them a network of relationships that comes from that education, at least if it’s not online So what’s the answer? Well, I think the answer is to push the quality of our higher education as far as we can, paying attention to the issues I’ve put on the table But it’s also to make sure that everybody has access and information and the capacity to climb ladders up So, I would create literally a worldwide clearinghouse of educational opportunity I’m involved now with an effort with Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to do just that And I think that we will have the college version of that up and running within a year And we intend to try to do it for all levels of education I think that we then have to supplant that, because you can’t expect many of the kids out there that are as good as any kids that are in the best schools anywhere in the world, okay? That’s the thing I want you to understand, okay? I want you to know, and excuse me just for giving one example, because we’ve run this experiment with NYU Abu Dhabi, where we were sent out with the ability to find kids that were as good as any in the world That was the admission standard for NYU Abu Dhabi Clearly admissible to any school in the world Far higher than the admission standard for NYU New York So we found Moosebah [assumed spelling] Who is Moosebah? Moosebah homeschooled himself grades one through eight in tribal village in Ethiopia He walked five days to Addis Ababa, knocked on the door of the International School, and said, give me any test you want I want to be in your school He got the highest grades in the entrance exams They gave him a spot and a scholarship They didn’t find out for six months he was living alone as a 13-year-old in the airport And they gave him housing at that point, and food He graduated at the top of his class, came as part of the first graduating class to NYU Abu Dhabi Graduated magna cum laude along with the best kids in the world He was not alone in that first class of 150 kids with that kind of profile Twenty percent of the class had that kind of profile Those kids could have been wasted What I’m saying is we have to get out and we have to — we won’t always have, you know, a Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed who’s willing to pay for Moosebah’s education or Teyho’s [assumed spelling] education or the education of the now more than a hundred kids of that ilk that have graduated from that one school We’ve got to generalize this And that means we have to have something like Teacher America, except guidance counsellors for America that have to be out there showing kids how to get through And not just guidance counsellors for America but guidance counsellors for the world And then the question is, after the match is made — and we have a serious problem of undermatching in the United States — [inaudible] in the world, okay But just focus on the United States Okay. Systematically — read Bill Bowen’s work on this Systematically, when you control for everything, kids that come from lower socioeconomic groups go to colleges that are less good than the colleges they should go to Controlling for everything And when they get to the less good place, when they’re matched less well, they do less well

Why? Because they’re not as stimulated They want the support services, right? All that stuff It just flows It’s weird It happens in part because you have political leaders saying go to a $10,000 online school So they think only about the price You’d say community college is going to be free Oh, that’s a bargain So you end up going to a community college in your area instead of investigating further Or maybe you do investigate further and you make it into the school you should make it into But then some less good school comes along, gives you a scholarship, and buys you down in a way I mean, the system is perverse And it’s a system of a lack of transparency, a lack of information, a lack of guidance, and then, finally, a lack of an ability to pay in the end And that’s where we’ve got to take seriously — we’re never going to get back to the time that I grew up in And I wouldn’t have gone to college if it hadn’t been for Nelson Rockefeller and his view that higher education was a public good And if you were a smart kid, you got a regent state scholarship And as long as you went to school in New York State, it was for free Public or private You found the best school for you For me it was Fordham It was a private school But my tuition was covered by my state scholarship because higher education was a public good Ronald Reagan changed that Right now, higher education gives you this private good You borrow We got to get it back to at least the quasi-public good That’s where I’m trying to go So the pay-as-you-earn program This is not something I thought up, okay? It’s done in Australia It’s done in the U.K. now Argonne has started it The Brookings Institute has great stuff on it I would go farther than any of those have gone however I would say essentially what Nelson Rockefeller said, but I would treat — you find a school, you go to it, we’ll pay for it, you pay the loan back over 20 years but you never have to pay more than 10% of your income over $50,000 The first $50,000 you don’t pay anything off, okay? So the key is about matching and then capacitating Matching and then capacitating Now, if we do that, starting in this country, and then we do it in the world, then circling back, I think we got a chance, a chance But, you know, we all have to play Don Quixote Okay? This is — call it the [inaudible] I’ll be a theologian here again This is the educational version of Pascal’s Wager It’s no sense betting against ourselves here If we do this, we can have a chance to turn back this creeping dogmatism that is killing civil discourse, and going to kill us as a nation if we’re not careful We’ve got a chance of turning globalization into the positive it should be — a genuine ecumenical world, a community of communities, into locking each identifiable like the elements of a watch, but creating something greater than the whole of the parts And we’ve got a chance to use technology well Thank you all for your attention I appreciate it [ Applause ] Should we do questions or — >> Jane McAuliffe: Well, I promised to stimulating And I think John delivered We’ve got time for probably about 10 minutes of Q&A We have microphones So let the first brave person [inaudible] >> John Sexton: It would be nice if you could just tell me who you are, sir >> Yeah. My name is Gregory Gums I’m from the Caribbean And I must say I find your thought very interesting And you touched on some of the issues that I have I’m from the Caribbean as I said We have in the Caribbean, you know, the University of the West Indies I come from a very small island [inaudible] Dutch And I went to school [inaudible] so I went to the Netherlands A lot of people in the school And they went to Paris I’m saying this to create a context of what I’m going to ask you, right? And you have touched on some of the issues here, right? This kind of — and it couldn’t be otherwise You know, I’ve been in universities all over America from USC and stuff like that in Southern California The issue that we face obviously in the world, and you have kind of touched on that, is the fact that, you know, these research institutions are fundamentally grounded in the north, right? Now we have a little bit China starting to come, you know Actually, it has some good universities Africa is still basically nowhere, right? A place that was colonized by Europeans You have Oxford, Cambridge They could have easily have put like Oxford and Cambridge in Africa

Why didn’t they do that? Well, I think you can figure out why they didn’t do it because it could lead to intellectual competition, et cetera, et cetera But this is a huge problem for the world, right, as the world globalizes, as people become more world citizens And another big problem you have, you didn’t touch on it, but universities came about largely also in the West as a handmaiden of colonialism, right? There was some criticism of it, but it played a tremendous central role in this whole process So the fact that a lot of the knowledge in the world right now is dominated by the North, right, told from a Northern perspective, often with very problematical view of other people, right? I mean, you talked about the fact and I’m very positive about that, that, you know, there are so many talented people, you know — not from the Caribbean I mean, Caribbean people have been known to be talented But from Africa, Central Latin America, who simply are outed to the sea They have no chance to get into these universities And the consequences of that for the world as we go forward, right? The need in essence, in essence globalized that research institution with all of the problems that come along with that So I would like to hear some of your thinking about it And also some of your thinking of the limitations of the fact that these research universities have been in the North And a lot of the ideas have been highly problematical for the South >> John Sexton: So, I’m going to put aside a few of the very, very big topics you raise because I don’t think they’re necessary for me to get to the heart [inaudible], but I want to acknowledge I’m putting them aside Western objectivism does not capture all of reality, stipulated You know, I’m a PhD I’ve taught major religions, North, South, all time periods I get it, okay? So it’s not all about the Western perspective on the world That’s the heart of my ecumenical argument, okay? So I accept that I don’t want to get into the history of colonialism in the university and so forth I mean, that’s a complex story I’m interested in looking to the future from where we are And on that I agree with you completely, which is that I’ve lived through the experience of NYU Abu Dhabi We’re now — we’re up — we’re building to 2000 undergraduates and a thousand PhD students So 3000 students overall They are drawn literally from around the world So there are 124 countries that are represented, genuinely represented Not the children of expatriates who live in Abu Dhabi But we’re scouting all around the world And Moosebah is not an isolated example And the fact of the matter is that they’re running with the best students in the world Okay? We’ve graduated less than a thousand students In fact, I think it’s only about 700 students so far, because we started off with three small classes And we have six Rhodes Scholars out of those 700 students And they’ve gone to Rhodes Scholars and done very well They’re proving your point in a way when given the chance So the key thing becomes, how do we get the change to them, and how do we begin having a genuinely ecumenical higher education system? And I accept that That’s the response I argue for on globalization And I think it’s a positive-sum game It is not a zero-sum game I think American universities — I mean, look America is noted for its nativism and its chauvinism I think that those of ecumenism would be very, very helpful And I — if you look at my 14 years as President of NYU, that’s where we move as a university So I don’t disagree with you at all But I don’t think dwelling on the past and how we got to where we are now is particularly helpful >> My name is Rufus Game, a product of the best schools in this country >> John Sexton: That must be the Jesuit schools >> And [laughter] Actually, one of them was And I’m now a judge — >> John Sexton: Oh, you have to sit down so they can see me while you’re asking your question or moved to the side, Rufus That’s a great idea >> Here we go >> John Sexton: But it’s a little hurtful I just succeeded as Jane and Governor Patterson and Jan will attest — I’ve just succeeded on a 35-pound weightloss program and a challenge form my kids They had actually named my stomach Rufus But — >> Ooh [laughter] You know how to cut >> John Sexton: I’m — no Go >> My sense, having gone to the best schools, that it is that at the very top, schools have themselves kind of figured it out, how to line up a way to get people

who want to go there to go there But that really your — the thrust of your concern is working that back down through the entire array of schools And I — if that’s correct, I’d like your comments on how do you spread that so that the people hoping to get into some school have the same opportunities that they would at the best schools if people were looking for them with scholarships >> John Sexton: Yeah So let me — this is not a dissenting opinion It’s what we would call at the Supreme Court, where Jan Hobley and I worked together, opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part So I just want to put a little caution flag up I think having been educated at at least one Jesuit school you’ll probably accept this dialog as a friendly amendment Speaking for one of the two or three dozen most selected schools in the country, you know, NYU, I’ll see we have not figured out how to get a opportunity down deep in society What we’ve figured out is how to make ourselves extremely attractive and to have people want us a lot, and to get a sufficiently diverse student body that our consciences are not shocked But I could give you story after story after story I mean, I told you I’ve not gone on for-profit boards Therefore, I’ve been a very active member on various boards that are consistent with the message I’m giving you today And I’m on one board, for example, that — for a foundation — relatively small, but it spends a lot of effort and resources out into places where no one looks for kids And it pulls those kids in and on three campuses — Princeton, NYU, and Harvard — it runs a five-week boot camp for those kids And I think the average rise out of 1600 on the SAT for the Kids, and it’s something like 80 to 100 kids that are in those boot camps, the average rise is something like 450 points out of 1600 on the SAT, proving that it is eminently coachable But these kids never would have gotten the coaching, right, that in my city, people routinely pay for, you know? Hundreds of dollars an hour they pay for the coaching So — and those kids end up going to the places that we would want to send our kids, those schools you’re talking about, including NYU But they end up going only because somebody has reached out, discovered them, told them it’s important as a choice See, there’s a whole lot of information along the way that, if we don’t work systematically as a society — first, I’m saying there’s a big enough problem here in the United States My life is now about raising the standards for those tens of millions of kids around the world That gets to this point that was raised with the first question, okay? And — because out there, I’m telling you, there are students that are as good as better than the students that are going to the schools that you and I care about But they haven’t been found And you know what? They’re smart And if we don’t give them a chance, if we don’t give them hope, they’re going to get angry and then you got smart angry people out there And when you have not hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions, but tens of millions of smart angry people out there, you know I got 1.2 million, 1.2 million Syrian kids in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, as we speak One point 2 million Syria had a pretty good education system before 500 schools were destroyed and they were forced to flee their country Eight-five percent literacy rate But three years those kids have been either in the camps or on the street Seventy-five percent in the camps, 25% in the streets, getting no education at all They know what they’re missing They know what they’re missing Now the sad thing is when I go around and speak to governments about helping that, when I speak to the United States State Department, the humanitarian argument doesn’t raise the dial very much The economic argument, it will be good for — raises [inaudible] The security argument, ehhh, ehhh, ehhh

You know, now — because you want to know where the next people are going to come from that are going to be angry and smart enough to do something about it? So we got to get to this and we got to get to it here But we got to get to it worldwide Yes, we have very, very good schools And they’re diverse But not enough >> Question [inaudible] >> John Sexton: Yeah Thank you >> [Inaudible] I’m here >> John Sexton: Okay I’m sorry My answers are too long I apologize >> Yes, I know >> John Sexton: I’m sorry >> Thank you, Professor Sexton Actually, President Emeritus, comma, Sexton, for this talk I was actually very touched by some of the comments you made But actually some [inaudible] and also — but not for your own fault But my name is John del Pino I’m now 47 years old But back in 1988/’89 I wrote about some of these very issues that you talked about at, again, one of the leading research institutions in the world — I would argue the best in the world, the University of Chicago At the time I was President of the Hispanic Student Association And, ironically, I’ve been rereading something I wrote back then, even before your talk I didn’t know you were touching these issues I wrote a series of essays back then in April, May, and June 1990, called “What is the Future of the Spanish [inaudible] our Education? And I’m more happy to share with you later on But it was published actually in Chicago [inaudible] in which in a six-part series of essays, I talked about these very themes that you talked about Unfortunately, not through any lack of neglect on your part, but it seems like kind of sad to me how you regress to much more than I would have anticipated on some very topics that you raised, whether it’s some of these kids you mentioned about who make their last grasp for education at high school diplomas or lack of access information, whether [inaudible] of poor schools or a lack of being fully engaged in access information by having parents who necessarily might not be engaged in the total process Unlike our communities in the U.S. are more aware of simply knowledge and opportunities Not through any of these deliberate design but just simply by awareness And also by somewhat political neglect and sometimes almost by deliberateness As [inaudible] you know, the recent statistics about there’s more — regresses more [inaudible] in some parts of the country now And for lack of time, I just want [inaudible] by saying I really applaud you for having the courage to raise these issues I certainly hope an ideal situation we can really fully progress further I know for one I’ve not given up thinking about these issues And I for one am fully proud [inaudible] my institution, many others around the world You also [inaudible] others to continue to encourage the life of the mind And with all due respect to the first gentleman, I think these very issues that I became aware at the University of Chicago and elsewhere, when I’ve not fully been aware throughout my knowledge of history and to men of courage I’m going to encourage to help them Try to push the ball further down the field so to speak And I applaud you for them Like you said, let’s not dwell too much on the past Let’s try to go forward But also learning — minding of the certain lessons of the past And [inaudible] tonight, I said, to paraphrase, you know, not to repeat the same mistakes We try to learn from and move forward Thank you very much >> John Sexton: Thank you, Joh It’s a good place to close I’ll just use your comments to just connect the dots once again in case I’ve not made myself clear So I began by talking about three topics that we could talk about outside of the context of higher education You know, what you see in our civic and political discourse — I mean, just remember, the Hirschman quote I read was 1991 The Edwards example I gave was 2004 I didn’t give any from this year You’re living it Go home and watch Sports Center tonight [laughter], okay? And see what we’ve done But what it is, what it is, you understand, that we may be witnessing is the death of thought, right? I mean, if we just continue to devalue thought and put aside whether it’s good or bad for research universities It’s obviously bad But it’s not good for society It’s not good You know, we were put on Earth as homosapiends, right? I mean, it’s — so then you see that the university can be an antidote to this, right? And it’s quixotic But it can be an antidote to it Then you move to globalization and, again, it’s an unavoidable thing I mean, you know, the phenomena that are working out are just what [inaudible] de Jardin spoke about in the 1940’s So the world is coming together Now are we going to come together and cause a combustion, or are we going to come together and create a community of communities? Again, this is a very big question Again, higher education has a key role to play in it And then you get to technology and technology is not the enemy

of what we’re trying to do here It’s — I don’t worry about it being disruptive It’s not going to disrupt It’s going to change many different parts of the orchestra And if we use it right, it will democratize higher education as long as we have ladders up Okay? But it can’t be used to stamp other people’s kids with a BA degree and declare a political victory That’s the danger, you see That’s the danger It’s that it runs down the value And, you know, oh, look, our college graduation rates are up And then the final element that I meant is meant to tie it together And this is, John, the point that you’re making And I tie it back positively to the point that was made out of the Caribbean For me, it’s a moral issue For the, the humanitarian argument is enough You cannot waste a mind that’s out there And I’ve lived it because I teach these kids in Abu Dhabi And I’m telling you it’s an amazing thing to see And they — and to know that the Moosebah’s and the Teyho’s and the others would have had nothing because they never would have been found and they never would have known it made a difference And then to see the Syrian kids and they know it makes a difference So it’s not enough This is where the flavor of Rawlsianism has to come in And it was my last, my kind of punchline that pulls it together As we think about the — elevating civic discourse and embracing globalization and utilizing technology to the maximum, it’s only going to work if we generalize it in a way that we don’t know where, you know, in the Rawls Table we’re sitting, you know? And it works for everybody at the table And that requires a fairly massive investment of resources because the education that we want at those best schools, by the way, is — and I’ll just close by recommending a book — Why Does College Cost So Much ? Okay? Why Does College Cost So Much ? And it’s because in a well-functioning economy, a high-talent service industry goes up more rapidly than inflation So then the only question becomes, okay, if it’s the cost that’s going up, what’s the subsidy? And cost minus subsidy equals price And it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out if you withdraw subsidy and cost is going up, price is going to go up Or quality is going to go down So we, you know, we got to get out of this kind of very simple minded debate that, you know — and it all works synergistically to me because that’s when the demagogue can say to those who are allergic to nuance and complexity, your costs are going up So the solution is what? Give everybody — freeze tuition Okay, freeze tuition I’ll go on record right now and say that is a stupid policy Freezing tuition gives Donald Trump and William Gates’s children scholarships Okay? It doesn’t make sense But it’s hard to — there will be another talk to explain that to you But I’m telling you, that’s not the good social policy And we got to get to ourselves to a point where these four things are working together positively And then we can have a world that we’re proud of It’s not going to happen in my lifetime, but it will happen in Jane’s, I’m sure All right Thank you all very, very much [ Applause ] >> Jane McAuliffe: Thank you President Sexton and thank you to all of you who were here this afternoon for this lecture at the Kluge Center We do have refreshments for you I hope the conversation will continue Thank you >> This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress Visit us at loc.gov