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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Perfect Storm: How the Imminent Crisis in Higher Education Can Strengthen Liberal Education

photo of a dirt road surrounded by green grass

W. Robert Connor
Teagle Foundation

Date: Tuesday, April 5
Time: 4:30PM-6:00PM
Location: Campion 139

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation, and Educational Policy (CSTEEP)


Abstract: Three developments threaten American higher education with a perfect storm: First, the ongoing problems in the economy; second, a citizenry that demands visible results; and third, a theory of educational improvement that has reached its limits and is no longer sustainable.

In his lecture, Dr. Connor will address problems with the existing theory of educational improvement. He will also explore an alternative theory, based on systematic use of evidence of how best to improve student learning and to control costs. This alternative, Dr. Connor will argue, is the best course for higher education in general. Provided that faculty move swiftly to take ownership of this approach, it promises special, and often overlooked, benefits for liberal education, especially in the humanities and related social science.


W. Robert Connor is Senior Advisor to the President of the Teagle Foundation and was the Foundation's President from 2003 to 2009. Connor was born in Worcester Massachusetts, graduated from Hamilton College, and after a stint at Oxford received his Ph.D in Classics from Princeton in 1961. A few years later, he returned to Princeton, where he taught and administered until 1989, when he became president and director of the National Humanities Center in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his Byzantinist wife, Carolyn Connor, and their Labrador, Cree. He holds honorary degrees from several colleges and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Visit W. Robert Connor's website.


In the News

Recent research has found that 45% of students show "no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years" ("45% Of Students Don't Learn Much In College" Huffington Post, 01/18/11).  W. Robert Connor spoke on Tuesday, April 5 about the crisis that threatens higher education and what can be done about it.