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 federal and state disinvestment,
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 is considering
the implications of state disinvestment in public higher education; assessing the
role of the federal government in funding our great public research universities;
and developing recommendations for ensuring that public universities continue to
serve the nation as engines of economic development and opportunity for Americans
from all backgrounds. Ultimately, the project will encourage the development of
new federal, corporate, and philanthropic sources of support to sustain public higher
education in every state.
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’
unparalleled public university system.
The Lincoln Project comprises seven subcommittees: public relations, government
relations, business/corporate, philanthropy, access/affordability, research, and
data. Of special note, the data group is responding to the clear project need for
comprehensive and robust information on which to base its policy recommendations.
Broadly, the data subcommittee seeks to answer why public research universities
cost so much, what benefits students receive from attending public research universities,
and what benefits public research universities provide to their cities, states,
regions, and nation.
In regional meetings held around the country, the Lincoln Project is bringing together
local leaders representing public higher education, government, policy, business,
and philanthropy to identify common concerns and advance innovative initiatives.
Current areas of focus include:
- 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 its first regional forum in Charlottesville, Virginia,
on October 26, 2014. Fourteen members of the Lincoln Project advisory group were
joined by a panel that included Teresa Sullivan, President, University of Virginia;
Michael Rao, President, Virginia Commonwealth University; Timothy Sands, President,
Virginia Tech; Carol Folt, Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; Gerald Baliles,
Director, The White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia,
and former Governor of Virginia; and Ray Scheppach, Miller Center Senior Fellow
for Economic Policy and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, University of Virginia.
Additional meetings are being planned in Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; New York,
New York; Seattle, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona.
Follow-up regional meetings will focus on building consensus around recommended
initiatives and policies.
- Robert J. Birgeneau
University of California, Berkeley
- Mary Sue Coleman
University of Michigan
- Lawrence S. Bacow
Tufts University; Harvard Kennedy School
- Gene D. Block
University of California, Los Angeles
- Henry E. Brady
University of California, Berkeley
- Philip Bredesen Jr.
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
- David B. Frohnmayer
University of Oregon
- E. Gordon Gee
West Virginia University;
The Ohio State 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
- 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
- William Powers, Jr.
University of Texas at Austin
- John W. Rogers, Jr.
- Thomas Siebel
C3; First Virtual Group
- 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