Higher education in the United States is currently at the center of heated debates about who should have access to an education, what that education should include, and how the work done at colleges and universities should serve society, the nation, and the world. These debates yield no easy answers. Regarding access, higher education remains the primary, perhaps only, route to social mobility in the U.S., and yet financial and social realities keep many people from finding a way into the system. Regarding educational philosophy, the demand for a liberal arts education remains strong in the U.S. and increasingly abroad, but American colleges and universities are also under strong pressure to graduate students well-versed in technology and with practical work experience. Regarding societal mission, increasing concern about the security of the intellectual property produced at U.S. universities is challenging their longstanding commitment to open inquiry and access to knowledge. These debates and their resolutions have implications for higher education globally.
Deborah Prentice is Provost and Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She was appointed Provost July 1, 2017 and in this role serves as the University’s chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer. Prior to becoming Provost, Prentice served as Dean of the Faculty from 2014-2017 and was Chair of the Psychology Department for 12 years. She also served as co-Chair of the Princeton Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity. A social psychologist, Prentice’s research focuses on social norms and behavior change. Prentice received her B.A. in Human Biology and Music from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University. She joined Princeton’s faculty as an assistant professor in 1989.