The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education


Public higher education is key to U.S. educational infrastructure and the foundation of competitiveness. As centers of learning, culture, research, and entrepreneurship, these institutions drive social mobility and economic growth. Yet over the past decade, state funding to these universities has declined precipitously, forcing campuses across the country to make difficult 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.

Lincoln Project Introductory Video




    Project Chairs

    Gene D. Block

    University of California, Los Angeles
    Academy Member

    Henry E. Brady

    University of California, Berkeley
    Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy & Professor of Political Science and Public Policy
    Academy Member

    Nancy E. Cantor

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    Chancellor, Rutgers-Newark
    Academy Member

    John T. Casteen

    University of Virginia
    President, Emeritus: University Professor and Professor of English
    Academy Member

    Donald Graham

    Graham Holdings Co
    Chairman of the Board
    Academy Member

    Robert D. Haas

    Levi Strauss & Company
    Chairman Emeritus, Former President and Chief Executive Officer
    Academy Member

    Michael Hout

    New York University
    Professor of Sociology
    Academy Member

    James Albert Smith Leach

    University of Iowa College of Law
    Chair in Public Affairs, Visiting Professor of Law
    Academy Member

    George Miller

    House Education and Workforce Committee (former Chair)

    John W. Rogers

    Ariel Investments, LLC
    Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Investment Officer
    Academy Member

    Shirley M. Tilghman

    Princeton University
    President Emerita and Professor of Biology and Public Affairs
    Academy Member

    Phyllis M. Wise

    Colorado Longitudinal Study
    Chief Executive Officer, President and Board Member
    Academy Member

    Pauline Ruth Yu

    American Council of Learned Societies
    Academy Member


    News & Updates

    News & Updates



    Project Outreach

    Project Outreach

    The Lincoln Project held regional meetings and briefings in 15 states across the country bringing together leaders in public higher education, government, policy, business, and philanthropy. Over 38,000 print copies of the project's five publications were distributed to stakeholders around the country. The project was cited extensively in a broad range of media outlets including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlantic, CNN Money, Forbes, WGBH News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed. 

    Learn more about the Lincoln Project's influence:

    Outreach Activities & Impact 

    Media Coverage