In a global economy that requires both an educated citizenry and a robust national research enterprise, public higher education is not a luxury: it is the foundation of our competitiveness. Yet in the current political climate of fiscal constraint, public higher education has emerged a ready target for reduced state investment, forcing campuses across the country to make difficult and consequential choices about institutional spending and resource allocation.
The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education has considered the implications of reduced state investment in public higher education; assessed the role of the federal government in funding our great public research universities; and developed recommendations for ensuring that public universities continue to serve the nation as engines of economic development and opportunity for Americans from all backgrounds.
The Lincoln Project is named for President Abraham Lincoln to commemorate his role in signing the Morrill Act of 1862, which laid the groundwork for the United States’ public university system.
In regional meetings held around the country, the Lincoln Project brought together local leaders representing public higher education, government, policy, business, and philanthropy to identify common concerns and advance innovative initiatives. Areas of focus included:
- How public universities can address financial challenges while fulfilling their commitment to providing an accessible and affordable undergraduate education;
- How public universities can devise financial strategies that enable them to compete effectively with their counterparts in private higher education;
- How public universities can better measure and communicate the payoffs for all residents – in terms of quality of life, cultural infrastructure, and direct economic benefits – of state investment in higher education; and
- What role the federal government, the business sector, and philanthropy should play in sustaining the excellence of America’s public research universities.
The Lincoln Project held five regional forums to help formulate its recommendations:
- October 26, 2014 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- March 26, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
- April 2, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
- April 6, 2015 in New York City.
- May 7, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
In addition to the regional forums, the Lincoln Project reached out to 145 public research universities to introduce the initiative and request data.
The project released a series of five publications that present key facts about public research universities; examine the challenges facing higher education funding at the state level; discuss current and changing financial models of public research universities; and consider the myriad impacts of the research conducted at these institutions. Finally, the Lincoln Project offered substantive policy recommendations for sustaining these institutions and advancing their growth for the benefit of the states they serve and the nation as a whole in its final report.
- Robert J. Birgeneau
University of California, Berkeley
- Mary Sue Coleman
University of Michigan
- Lawrence S. Bacow
Harvard Kennedy School
- Gene D. Block
University of California, Los Angeles;
APLU Board of Directors
- Henry E. Brady
University of California, Berkeley
- Philip Bredesen
former Governor of Tennessee
- Nancy Cantor
- John T. Casteen III
University of Virginia
- Jonathan R. Cole
- Gray Davis
former Governor of California
- J. Patrick Doyle
Domino’s Pizza, Inc.
- David B. Frohnmayer †
University of Oregon
- E. Gordon Gee
West Virginia University
- Matthew Goldstein
The City University of New York
- Donald Graham
Graham Holdings Company
- Carl Guardino
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
- Robert D. Haas
Levi Strauss & Co.
- Jim Hackett
Ford Smart Mobility, LLC
- Ann Weaver Hart
University of Arizona
- Michael Hout
New York University
- Kay Bailey Hutchison
former United States Senator, Texas
- Jim Leach
University of Iowa
- Earl Lewis
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- Ann Marie Lipinski
Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University
- George Miller
former United States Representative, California
- William Powers, Jr.
The University of Texas at Austin
- John Rogers
- Thomas Siebel
- Shirley M. Tilghman
- Phyllis M. Wise
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Frank Yeary
CamberView Partners LLC;
formerly, University of California, Berkeley
- Pauline Yu
American Council of Learned Societies
- Samantha Carney
- Eliza Berg
- † Deceased