Summer 2023 Bulletin

The Higher Education Forum at the Academy

Lywana Dorzilor
The Higher Education Forum
An image of The Walter Isaacson Center at the Aspen Institute surrounded by trees and green leaves.
The Walter Isaacson Center at the Aspen Institute. Photo by Daniel Bayer.

By Lywana Dorzilor, Program Coordinator for Education

The Academy’s second annual convening of The Higher Education Forum was held in Aspen, CO, on June 12–15, 2023. More than one hundred higher education experts and leaders, including university presidents, provosts, and deans from many of the Academy’s Affiliate institutions as well as several Academy members, engaged in discussions on topics such as lessons from Ukraine and Hungary as they relate to current attacks on higher education in the United States; the future of work and the role of higher education in preparing an educated workforce; and artificial intelligence and newly emerging technologies.

The Academy’s program work was referenced and represented throughout the meeting. Ann Fudge, cochair of the Commission on Reimagining Our Economy, spoke about the future of the workforce, and a few panels highlighted the work of the Commission on the Arts and the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship and its report, Our Common Purpose. One session focused on the importance of art to a democratic society and included a performance by violinist Lynn Chang. During another part of the meeting, some of the panelists proposed a few nontraditional practices that the participants might want to consider. For instance, during a session on student mental health, someone suggested that students may benefit from more personal engagement from university leaders, such as by reading bedtime stories to the students.

We extend our thanks to the speakers and attendees for their invaluable insights and robust conversations. Several of the participants noted the meeting not only inspired them but also gave them actionable ideas that they hope to implement on their own campuses. One attendee, reflecting on the session that focused on Ukraine and Hungary, stated, “It’s hard to know how to derive new solutions, but the idea of looking abroad is a really good one.” Another participant shared how much they appreciated learning “about a number of initiatives related to freedom of speech and democracy.”

We are grateful to our sponsors—Bank of America, Hilltop Securities, Kaplan, Inc., Lumina Foundation, TIAA, and United Educators—for their continued interest, commitment, and active participation in the Forum.

A photo of Judith Brown Clarke, a person with brown skin and long black wavy hair. Clark wears a pink and green sweater over a green blouse. She holds a microphone and speaks to a person off-camera.
Judith Brown Clarke (Stony Brook University). Photo by Daniel Bayer.
A photo of Jamie Merisotis, a person with pale skin and short graying hair. Merisotis wears a gray suit and glasses, and stands at a lectern with a microphone.
Jamie Merisotis (Lumina Foundation) speaking about Higher Education at the Crossroads. Photo by Daniel Bayer.
A black and white portrait of Ted Mitchell, Goodwin Liu, and Jamie Merisotis facing the camera and smiling. Mitchell has pale skin and is bald. He wears a sweater over a dark shirt. Liu has short black hair and light skin. He wears a dark coat over a checkered shirt. Merisotis has pale skin and short graying hair. He wears a gray suit and glasses.
Ted Mitchell (American Council on Education), Goodwin Liu (Supreme Court of California), and Jamie Merisotis (Lumina Foundation). Photo by Daniel Bayer.
A photo of G. Gabrielle Starr , a person with light skin and curly short graying hair; Gary S. May, a person with brown skin and short graying hair; and Mark Becker, a person with pale skin and short gray hair. They all wear business attire and sit at a long table.
President Mark Becker (Association of Public and Land-grant Universities), Chancellor Gary S. May (University of California, Davis), and President G. Gabrielle Starr (Pomona College) in a panel discussion on Moving Forward: Equity and Higher Education. Photo by Daniel Bayer.

 More information about The Higher Education Forum may be found on the Academy’s website.