7 in 10 US college presidents perceive "anti-intellectual sentiment"

Protests, anti-intellectual sentiment at the top of presidents' minds

A recent survey by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup reveals concerns among college presidents about a growing gap between campuses and the American public.

Inside Higher Ed partnered with Gallup to survey 706 campus presidents at a range of institution types.

Roughly 7 out of 10 respondents agreed anti-intellectual sentiment is growing in the United States, and about two thirds agreed that "campus protests after the election have played into an image that higher education is intolerant of conservative views."

It may not be surprising that campus protests are at the forefront of presidents' minds, given that the election has set off a new wave of student activism. 

Presidents were also not confident that the public understands higher education. About half of respondents agreed that Americans do not understand the mission of higher education generally as well as the missions of their particular institutions.

How do college presidents define success?

According to Terry Hartle, the senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, college presidents predominantly believe the mission of higher education is to help students "become educated citizens, be exposed to new points of view, [and] to become lifelong learners." But, he says, this is not what the general public focuses on. "The public, often all they care about is jobs" Hartle says (Lederman/Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 3/10).

How have the presidents' views changed since last year's survey?

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