In an interview with The Washington Post, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust expresses some serious concerns about the Obama Administration’s new federal college ratings plan.
“I think it raises the issue of what do you rate them for?” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust told The Washington Post. “It goes back to what is college worth. What are you going to say? Is it all going to be about how much more money an individual makes with a college degree?”
Whatever formula the Education Department devises for ratings, Faust said, should take into account numerous factors. For example: How many graduates go into public service?
“Give a multifaceted, nuanced picture of what colleges do,” Faust said. “Certainly the dropout rate . . . would be something worth understanding about a college. But I think these should be very complex portraits of institutions. And not reduce an institution to a simple metric.”
The federal rating initiative, which President Obama announced in August 2013, was one of several topics Faust discussed in a recent visit to The Post’s newsroom.
Harvard’s 28th president, in office since 2007, has sought this fall to kindle a conversation about what she calls “the case for college.” In a speech in Dallas in October, Faust urged high school students to keep in mind the many reasons — not just economic ones — for going to college.
“There’s a lot of noise in the press and online about college not being worth it — being too expensive, unnecessary, just go start your startup, just go be an entrepreneur,” Faust said. Worried that this view is getting traction, Faust said she wants to provide a counter-argument.
She is well aware that for many Americans going to college is about getting the right credential to launch their careers.
“Which is of course important,” Faust said. “Economic growth is important. People’s ability to support their families and lead lives that are not dogged by financial uncertainty and stress — that is important. But I think we also need to understand that college is about much more than that.” Meeting new people, for instance, and new worlds of thought. Finding new goals. Discovering the value of deliberation.
Harvard President Faust on federal college ratings, campus sexual assault and more (The Washington Post)