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Tufts President Testifies Before Federal Commission On Higher Education

Tufts President Testifies Before Federal Commission On Higher EducationTufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow recently spoke to members of a federal commission on higher education about issues ranging from financial aid to promoting active citizenship among students.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.03.06] Tufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow, joined by presidents and chancellors from eight other New England colleges and universities, recently testified before the federal Commission on the Future of Higher Education at a hearing in Boston.

"Our institutions should be motivating students to become active, engaged and effective citizens," Bacow said, according to The Boston Globe. "This is the role of a liberal education, not just to convey knowledge, but to convey values also."

Bacow and leaders from other institutions, including MIT, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts, also expressed their concerns about the rising cost of higher education to members of the commission, which was formed last fall to tackle some of the tough issues affecting colleges and universities in the United States. The commission will issue a final report to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in August.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Bacow, an economist, spoke before the commission about the “growing trend of awarding financial aid to students on the basis of merit instead of need.”

"It is far from clear to me how society is better off when scarce financial resources are diverted from the neediest students to those who are not needy by any measure, simply to redistribute the brightest students among our institutions," he said, according to the Chronicle. "That is doing nothing to improve access."

Bacow encouraged the commission “to re-focus attention on … students whose need is the greatest, and help ensure that their access to higher education and their opportunity to achieve their potential is expanded, in the great tradition of this nation.”

In addressing the commission, Bacow also talked about standardized testing, an issue that has received increased attention from politicians. According to Globe, Bacow asked the commission not to “recommend changes to the system that would … impose uniform or common standards such as exist in many other nations.”

Standardized testing, Bacow explained, would diminish diversity in higher education.

“Higher education in the United States is a national treasure, exactly because of the diversity of institutions, competition and innovation that it enjoys,” Bacow said.




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