If You Go
Date: July 25, 2006

How a Great University Forgot Education

Harry R. Lewis, a Harvard Professor and former Dean of Harvard College, offers his provocative analysis of how America’s great universities are failing students and the nation.

America’s great research universities are the envy of the world – and none more so than Harvard. Never before has the competition for excellence been fiercer. But while striving to be unsurpassed in the quality of its faculty and students, universities have forgotten that the fundamental purpose of undergraduate education is to turn young people into adults who will take responsibility for society.

In “Excellence Without a Soul,” Lewis draws from his experience to explain how our great universities have abandoned their mission. Harvard is unique; it is the richest, oldest, most powerful university in America, and so it has set many standards, for better or worse. Lewis evaluates the failures of this grand institution – from the hot button issue of grade inflation to the recent controversy over Harvard’s handling of date rape cases – and makes an impassioned argument for change.

The loss of purpose in America’s great colleges is not inconsequential. Harvard, Yale, Stanford – these places drive American education, on which so much of our future depends. It is time to ask whether they are doing the job we want them to do.