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From the Director

Dear Colleague,

We are pleased to share a PDF copy of Beyond Dead Reckoning: Research Priorities for Redirecting Higher Education. This essay aims to provide a persuasive rationale for developing state-of-the-art knowledge to improve postsecondary education.

In order to fulfill the promise of access, the fundamental question facing American higher education today is “Access to what?” Research is needed along several lines: What are the programs, teachers, and teaching to which students are gaining access? Which educational venues and practices offer greatest promise for the academic success of students from diverse backgrounds? What are the obstacles to educational quality, and how can they be overcome? How can higher education help solve the issues confronting primary and secondary schools? Posing such questions underscores the fact that the challenges confronting higher education today are no less important than at any previous time. For this reason alone, it is alarming that higher education has become less of a priority for public investment.

American colleges and universities, along with the public agencies that support and monitor their efforts, find themselves navigating waters that are both changed and uncharted, relying on a kind of dead reckoning to plot their future course. Too many of the maps and navigation instruments that were once effective guides are now obsolete. This essay identifies a set of research priorities to enable those most responsible for higher education to shape the enterprise in more purposeful ways, thereby strengthening higher education’s role in improving the lives of students and society as a whole.

The essay is the culmination of an agenda-setting initiative commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement. We consulted broadly with federal and state policymakers, higher education leaders and researchers, representatives of foundations, business executives, and members of the public. On behalf of NCPI’s Executive Committee, I offer thanks to OERI for its support and to the many individuals who participated in this process.


Patricia J. Gumport
Executive Director


Copyright © 2001 National Center for Postsecondary Improvement