What does the university exist to do? According to the president of one of America’s large state universities, most university administrators have got it all wrong.

According to a profile by William Saletan in Slate, Arizona State University’s president, Michael Crow, is trying to change the way schools operate. According to the piece:

Michael Crow…worries about broader indicators of society’s health: declining educational attainment, shrinking wages, environmental degradation. These are the standards by which universities should be judged. They need to worry less about who gets in and more about what comes out.

Crow wants to reconnect higher education to the real world. …He has pushed scholars to think like public servants and work like entrepreneurs. That means “use-inspired” teaching and research focused on local and global outcomes. More students admitted and educated. More graduates who are socially and economically productive.

I’m not really sure what “use-inspired research” means and this isn’t exactly a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism, but some of this looks interesting.


Since Crow’s arrival, ASU’s research funding has almost tripled to nearly $350 million. Degree production has increased by 45 percent. And thanks to an ambitious aid program, enrollment of students from Arizona families below poverty is up 647 percent.

Granted, tuition at ASU during the same period as also increased dramatically, to the tune of about $500 a year. Annual in-state tuition at ASU was about $2400 when he came on in 2002. It’ll be $9,208 in the fall. Still the rhetoric he uses is important. The university’s success should be determined primarily by its outputs; the service his school renders to the community is a damn good place to start.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer