Hanna Holborn Gray: The Higher Learning and the New Consumerism

Hanna Holborn Gray: The Higher Learning and the New Consumerism

Edward Gibbon wrote in the Decline and Fall of the death of the Emperor Gordian the Younger. He wrote, "Twenty-two acknowledged concubines and a library of 62,000 volumes attested the variety of his inclinations; and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that both the one and the other were designed for use rather than for ostentation."

That opposition between use and ostentation represents the recurrent theme of argument in trying to fit the higher learning to the public interest in our American tradition. My talk this evening is intended to offer some commentary on the general state of our research universities, especially the private university and its claim to attention of a sort that tends to dissipate in the prevailing winds of fashion and to remain unheeded sometimes among more strident conflicts of public policy.

We are at a time when public investment in private higher education is being seriously questioned and when economic contraction dictates difficult choices. (Sigue)

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 01/01/00