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  • Andrew Seligsohn President, Campus Compact
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    Andrew J. Seligsohn is president of Campus Compact. Before joining Campus Compact in June of 2014, Seligsohn served as Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement and Strategic Planning at Rutgers University–Camden, where he worked across the campus to develop the university’s engagement infrastructure to maximize community impact and student learning. Seligsohn previously served as Director of Civic Engagement Learning in the Pace Center at Princeton University. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Hartwick College, where he earned tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor and was the elected chair of the faculty. Seligsohn also taught at both Princeton and Rutgers, and he has published articles and chapters on constitutional law, political theory, urban politics, and youth civic engagement. Seligsohn holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in modern intellectual history from Williams College.

    Riding a Wave of Optimism: The Newman Civic Fellows Convening

    I am riding a wave of optimism. This weekend, Campus Compact held our first national convening of Newman Civic Fellows, students nominated by their college presidents based on a demonstrated commitment to the public good. Nearly 100 Fellows gathered at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate here in Boston. There were students from community colleges, research universities, regional comprehensives, liberal arts colleges; public, private, and faith-based; urban, suburban, and rural. Together, the Fellows engaged in various activities to build their capacities as public problem solvers. We will be publishing an account of the event from the…

    Thoughts on the election of 2016

    Campus Compact is founded on a commitment to democracy. Democracy includes fair and free elections, but fair and free elections do not define democracy. Democratic communities, because they rely on equal voice for all, are structured around commitments to equal dignity and mutual respect. So it is particularly hard to know how to react when an election yields a victory for a candidate who has repeatedly undermined the core values of democracy. As I reflect on that challenge, my first conclusion is that it is important not to overstate what we can deduce from this election. The winning candidate won…

    Reflections from the Road

    President, Campus Compact

    This past weekend, I rode 150 miles on my bicycle. Along with 2000 other people, I rolled out on Saturday from Quincy, MA, along the South Shore to Bourne, where Cape Cod begins to extend out into the Atlantic. We spent Saturday night in the dorms at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and headed out Sunday morning for the ride up and around Cape Cod to Provincetown. I have done a version of this ride—sometimes 150 miles, sometimes 175—each of the past six years. I ride with a small group of friends and family members collectively known as Team Trenton, after…

    Thirtieth Anniversary Action Statement

    Every summer, Campus Compact convenes a National Network Leadership Meeting, bringing together our Board of Directors, the chairs of our state and regional Compact boards, our state and regional executive directors, and our national staff. We take stock of our network and of the national movement for the public purposes of higher education, and we work to identify the steps we can take to increase the scope and impact of our movement. This summer, we met in Minneapolis, where we were hosted by Augsburg College and its president, Paul Pribbenow, a member of our board and one of the most…

    Citizenship

    President, Campus Compact

    An article in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education discussed the emphasis on workforce preparation in governors’ approaches to higher education funding. The headline called out Republican governors in particular, but anyone following the issue knows that public officials from both parties frequently discuss higher education as if its sole purpose were the preparation of students for careers. There is a great deal to be said on the topic, and I want to make just one point—or perhaps a point-and-a-half. The Chronicle article attributes to Jenna A. Robinson, president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the view that…

    Are College Graduates Prepared to Support their Alma Maters?

    President, Campus Compact

    In recent weeks, public universities across the country have found themselves buffeted by political forces. In Wisconsin, Louisiana, Illinois, and North Carolina, budgets have been cut, longstanding missions questioned, and centers closed. In states that have attracted less attention, the story is not all that different. In May of 2014, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 48 states had not brought per student higher education spending back up to pre-recession levels, and the average state was spending 23% less per student than before the recession. Earlier this year, Young Invincibles released a report card grading states on…

    An Observation About the Mission of Higher Education

    President, Campus Compact

    You will often hear people speak about the tripartite mission of colleges and universities: teaching, research, and service. I think that way of describing the mission of higher education institutions reflects a basic misconception. Colleges and universities exist to serve the public. That is why all public and non-profit private universities are publicly subsidized—either directly or through tax exemption. Colleges and universities do not, in other words, have three missions. They have one: service to the public. They achieve that mission through teaching and research. That is why we should constantly ask how effectively the teaching and research of our…

    The Priority of Democracy for Campus Compact

    President, Campus Compact

    Campus Compact is a network of extraordinary internal diversity. We comprise 34 state and regional Compacts and 1100 member institutions across the United States and beyond. Our members are public and private, two-year and four-year, graduate and undergraduate. One result of that diversity is that it can be difficult to understand what Campus Compact is. When you look at us in action, you see us doing a lot of different things. There is a natural tendency to reduce us to those activities. So some people might think Campus Compact is a service learning organization. Others might think we are a…

    From Hope to Action

    President, Campus Compact

    I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, so I haven’t had a chance to turn many of my recent thoughts into posts. I hope I will be forgiven for a response to a piece from nearly two weeks ago. I’ll try to compensate for untimeliness with brevity. In a short opinion piece published on The Upshot, the data-informed section of the New York Times, the Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan expresses ambivalence that so many of this spring’s Harvard economics graduates will pursue careers in finance that focus on making money without producing social value. Mullainathan points out that financial expertise…

    On Wisconsin

    President, Campus Compact

    One of the many pleasures of my job is traveling around the country seeing the inspiring work of our state and regional Campus Compacts and the faculty, staff, and students of our member colleges and universities. Last week, I was in Madison for the annual Wisconsin Campus Compact Civic Engagement Institute. It was a daylong gathering featuring an intriguing keynote address by Ed Morrison, founder of Strategic Doing, located at Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development. I had the opportunity to sit down with chancellors and presidents, participate in the introduction of WiCC’s talented new executive director, and cheer along…

    Campus Compact’s Thirtieth Anniversary

    President, Campus Compact

    “In the face of growing complexity and danger in the problems facing American society, there are clear signs that self-interest is undermining public interest. There is todaya dangerous mismatch between the country’s urgent need for civic mindedness and the parochial attitudes of its citizens. The intense demand for economic, social, and political renewal requires a far greater sense of public purpose.” Those are the opening lines of the background information provided to attendees at the first meeting of the Coalition of College Presidents for Civic Responsibility, held at Georgetown University in January of 1986. By the end of that year,…

    The Skills to Make Local Change

    President, Campus Compact

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week about Dartmouth’s effort to fight back against its culture of binge drinking and sexual assault. The pessimism among students about the likelihood of success reminded me of conversations I had with students when I was working at Princeton. I was co-teaching a seminar on social entrepreneurship, in which the students were developing proposals to do things like end global poverty. They were all quite confident that they could lead systemic change to produce major impact.  Inspired in part by the work of Bringing Theory to Practice, I opened a conversation one day with…

    Fostering Student Success Across the Education Continuum

    President, Campus Compact

    A new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania paints a clear picture of how deeply economic inequality is integrated into higher education in the United States. The report shows that 18-24 year olds from the top income quintile are nearly twice as likely to enroll in post-secondary education as their counterparts from the bottom quintile. Young people from the top quintile are more than eight times as likely as young people from the bottom quintile to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24. In 1970, those in the top quintile…

    Student Civic Learning Depends on Institutional Commitment to Change

    President, Campus Compact

    On Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to deliver the closing keynote at the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values at Florida State University. The Dalton Institute is an annual gathering of students, faculty, staff, and administrators who care about preparing college students for lives of effective public participation. The theme of this year’s institute was, “Widening Inequalities: Educating Students to Be Fair and Equitable in the World They Will Lead.” Ever since Aristotle, philosophers and social scientists have understood that exemplars make a difference: If you see your parents acting justly, that’s likely to have a big impact…

    What is to be done about rankings?

    President, Campus Compact

    Join me in a thought experiment. Let’s start with the premise that colleges and universities—those that are publicly funded and those that receive a public subsidy through tax exemption—should serve the public. From there, we can conclude that rankings should reward colleges and universities that serve the public well (even if they also reward other things). How do our current ranking systems do? Before answering, I want to note that rankings are on the agenda for people who care about the public purposes of higher education all over the world. I was recently at the Talloires Network Leaders  Conference in South…