Author: Richard Vedder

Richard Vedder teaches at Ohio University and is the author of "Restoring the Promise: American Higher Education Today."

More Employees Than Students at Stanford: Give Each Student a Concierge!

I recently read in the Wall Street Journal that Stanford University had more administrative staff and faculty than it did students. Specifically, there were 15,750 administrators, 2,288 faculty members, and 16,937 students. The paid help of 18,038 (administrators plus faculty) outnumbered the customers (students) by 1,101. That gave me an idea for a stunning administrative […]

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Was Shakespeare Right? Should We Kill All the Lawyers?

I always thought that William Shakespeare was a bit too harsh when, in Henry VI, Part 2, he said “Let’s kill all the lawyers.” Given the antics of our nation’s leading law schools and the American Bar Association (ABA), however, perhaps Shakespeare was onto something when he penned those words over four centuries ago. In […]

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Are Woke University Policies Killing People? They May Soon

The latest brouhaha in higher education arose when New York University fired an organic chemistry professor teaching huge numbers of students, Maitland Jones, Jr. The headlines are revealing: “Top Med School Putting Wokeism Ahead of Giving America Good Doctors” proclaimed a column written by Dr. Stanley Goldfarb (former dean of the University of Pennsylvania School […]

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Collegiate Complicity in the Erosion of American Identity

I have taught about the economic history of the United States and Europe over the last seven decades, beginning in the 1960s and extending into the 2020s. I believe all educated Americans should have a decent understanding of American economic exceptionalism, how over the course of four centuries the area known as the United States […]

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Reimagining College: Three New Schools

Most American colleges and universities are fiercely resistant to major change. The staff, especially administrators and senior faculty, think they “own” the institutions and enjoy their dominant role. Yet enrollment data and public opinion polls show that Americans increasingly take of dim view of our colleges and universities. Some think the only way to effect […]

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The Biden Loan Forgiveness: Additional Thoughts

Like many other followers of the higher education scene, I weighed in on the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program last week, concluding that it was bad for America. In one iteration, I listed seven words beginning with the letter “I” to describe the policy action: illegal, inflationary, immoral, inequitable, irresponsible, irrational, and idiotic. This […]

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Universities: Should They Be Taxed or Subsidized?

As I have mentioned in a couple of books and numerous media epistles, late in life the great economist Milton Friedman told me he wasn’t sure whether universities should be subsidized or taxed by governments. This was a change in position: In his Capitalism and Freedom (1962), in which he generally argued for a very […]

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Who Owns the Universities? Who Runs Them?

There are two absolutely minimal essential resources for universities to exist: faculty, who provide the most important services educational institutions provide, and students, who are the customers that universities traditionally serve as part, and sometimes nearly all, of their mission. Yet at many schools, the faculty constitutes only a modest minority (perhaps one-fourth or so) […]

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Campus’ Disappearing White Males: The MacArthur Awards

Next to the Nobel Prizes, possibly the most prestigious and lucrative awards given to American academics are the annual so-called “genius” awards from the MacArthur Foundation. Last week, the foundation announced 25 awards, totaling well over $15 million. I found it curious that only three (12%) of those recognitions went to white or Asian males, […]

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Higher Education Needs to Share the Blame for National Disunity

Editor’s Note: National Association of Scholars Board Member Richard Vedder originally published this piece with Forbes on January 7, 2021. It has been removed from the Forbes website. Minding the Campus proudly republishes Professor Vedder’s article, slightly reformatted for the length preferences of our site. The National Association of Scholars, the publisher of Minding the Campus, […]

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The American University and the End of the Enlightenment

America is arguably the most magnificent manifestation of the Enlightenment that transformed the world after 1500. Our nation was discovered and settled by adventurers and risk-takers embracing change and discovery. Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were curious about the world, innovative and creative, and believers in the emerging democratic ideal who […]

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Four Contrarian Universities

New U.S. Department of Education data show that the number of postsecondary educational institutions in the U.S. declined 15 percent (from 7,234 to 6,138) between the 2012-3 and 2018-19 academic years, with fully one-third of the decline in the last year. In the past two years, total undergraduate enrollment has fallen by 627,000, more than […]

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When Colleges Defraud Donors

Colleges rarely sue one another, so when little Hillsdale College in Michigan sued the much larger University of Missouri a couple of years ago, it raised some eyebrows. Hillsdale alleges that Mizzou blatantly violated the terms of Wall Street financier Sherlock Hibbs’ will, who left $5 million to his alma mater upon his death to […]

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Are College Costs Transforming Family Life?

The New York intellectual establishment has learned via a New York Times op-ed and a New Yorker story/book review that the high cost of college has “changed” (Times) or “transformed” (New Yorker) American family life. That is nothing particularly new or revealing, at least for millions of Americans living, as I do, in that vast […]

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Student loan debt

Let’s Privatize State Colleges

Op-Ed. An estimated 14.67 million college students attend what we call “state universities.” Some of them are renowned highly selective research institutions like the University of California at Berkeley or the University of Michigan, while others are relatively obscure schools with an open admissions policy. But all receive some degree of subsidization from the state […]

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The Four Unspoken Rules for Getting Into College

The recent college admissions scandal is spectacular in its size and scope, but hardly surprising. Let me make four major points. Whenever there are scarce resources in much demand and a non-market solution is used to allocate those resources, there are bound to be problems. At the schools involved in this admissions scandal, there are […]

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Why It’s Time to End College Accreditation

Stealing from Shakespeare: “Let’s kill all the accreditors.” In this kinder and gentler age, most of us would be content if college accreditors simply resigned their positions and did something useful, such as selling cars. When you buy a car, you pay about the same as a year’s tuition fee at a good university. Yet […]

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How Many Colleges Will Go Under? Will Yours Be One?

Two of our nation’s premier credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have issued reports recently giving a negative outlook on the finances of American higher education. Of course, the financial condition of schools varies considerably: there are affluent ones with large cash reserves, billions in investments in their endowment, and robust demand for their services, […]

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Can Public Universities Compete With the Ivies?

An executive search firm in the not-for-profit sector, Kittleman, has recently looked at two groups of highly successful heads of organizations: the chief executive officers of the Fortune 500 corporations and their counterparts at the 100 largest non-profit organizations listed on Forbes. It is not surprising that the captains of industry and philanthropy mostly went […]

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Ten Things Destroying American Higher Education

America’s colleges and universities are in trouble: falling enrollments, declining public support, even the beginnings of a decline in our dominance in international rankings. While many factors are at work, here are the top ten things I think are destroying America’s colleges and universities. First, going to college is too costly. Tuition fees have roughly […]

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Popping the Higher Education Bubble

Nearly a decade ago, my then colleague Andrew Gillen suggested that one could say that higher education was in a bit of a “bubble”: over-exuberant “investors” in human capital, better known as students, were potentially misallocating their resources, becoming increasingly underemployed after graduation, leading to adverse financial consequences. In the private sector, bubbles, like those […]

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digital visualization of a dollar symbol

Taxing the Campus Plutocrats

One provision in the new tax legislation is going to give scores of colleges and universities a lot of heartburn –the 21 percent federal excise tax on compensation of employees making $1 million a year or more. The idea of extra taxes on supersized salaries is not new: private corporations have paid excise taxes on […]

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Same Old College Rankings—What Did You Expect?

Shocking news: the new Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college rankings say that Harvard is the best school in the United States. So does Forbes in its rankings, while US News ranks it second. Some eight schools (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Penn, Duke and Cal Tech) are in the top 10 in all three […]

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A Bi-Polar Report on ‘Laggard’ Public Colleges

Right now, the biggest news in higher education is a controversial paper from Dimitrios Halikias and Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution, arguing that “the upper middle class is substantially over-represented” in America’s universities, that “public investment…too often fails to produce either social mobility or socially beneficial research,” and that “the significant public subsidies spent […]

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Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels’ Bold Move Into For-Profit Education

Who gains as Purdue University acquires on-line Kaplan University? For Kaplan, the sale has strong appeal. For-profit companies have been maliciously maligned by politicians and leftist ideologues, and the Obama Administration tried to kill them through regulations that largely did not apply to traditional not-for-profit institutions. Students will like the prestige of the Purdue name, […]

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900,000 Costly Bureaucrats Work on Campus—How Many Do We Really Need?

For universities and many colleges, this is the age of administrative bloat. The Office of the President of the University of California has roughly two thousand employees – doing no teaching or research. In just the Diversity and Engagement area of her office (which probably did not even exist 50 years ago), there are five […]

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Higher Education

About 15 years ago I began writing extensively about the rising cost of higher education, even starting a research center (the Center for College Affordability and Productivity) focused on that topic. I am now convinced that rising costs are NOT the dominant problem facing our universities. There are at least seven deadly sins –not precisely […]

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How the Leftist Monoculture Took Over the Campus

By Richard Vedder I didn’t sleep too well last night, thanks to Heterodox Academy’s (and NYU’s) Jonathan Haidt and John Leo, who recently carried on a provocative exchange in this space. Two questions really bothered me: Why is there so little intellectual diversity in the academy? And what can we do about the related problem […]

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The U. Texas President on the Brink

Bill Powers, embattled for years as president of the University of Texas at Austin, appears at last to be facing his Alamo.  On Thursday, the UT Board of Regents will meet and Powers, mired in controversy over costs and mission, is expected to either resign or be fired. A face-saving compromise would be to let […]

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The Higher-Ed Bubble Starts to Pop

Everything created by humanity is subject to a cycle of creation and destruction. Humans live 70-80 or sometimes even 100 years; their business enterprises rarely last that long. A generation ago, there was no Facebook or Google, but Enron and Eastman Kodak were going strong. Even buildings seldom last more than 200-300 years. Until recently, […]

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