Transformation of America’s Universities & Colleges – Nu Leadership Series

“ Every failure is a blessing in disguise, providing it teaches some needed lesson one could not have learned without it. Most so-called Failures are only temporary defeats.”
Napoleon Hill

External forces are demanding traditional academia to change. Unfortunately, traditional universities have ignored cultural trends. If American institutions want to remain global competitive, change must take place. Handy (1990) argues for a major overhaul of the educational system in America.

Obviously, more knowledgeable students and a demanding market are forcing educational changes. Let’s analyze this more closely. The quickening pace of technology, global competition, and educational innovations have caused students to view themselves as customers. Many institutions continue to discredit working students, but the current undergraduate markup is 73% of nontraditional students (Clayton, 2002). Also, the demographic changes of more women, minorities, and low income students have created social pressure on traditional institutions.

What are market forces demanding? According to Clayton (2002), the 21st century needs students who possess good communication skills, critical thinking, applied knowledge, intellectual depth, ethics, and cultural understanding. Berg (2005) cites the following reasons for these institutions to change: (a) diminishing financial support, (b) mandating to serve adult learners, (c) needing to balance applied and liberal arts curricula, and (d) the subsequent necessity of evolving institutional mission. According to Lyon, Kysilka, and Pawlas (1999), students want more than the traditional academic institution is willing to give. Unfortunately, it will take a special academic institution to listen to market influences and survive.


Berg, G. (2005). Lessons from the Edges. San Francisco: American Council on Education Praeger.

Clayton, M. (2002). New models for higher education. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 5, 2006, from

Lyon, R., Kysilka, M. & Pawlas, G. (1999). The Adjunct Professor’s Guide to Success: Surviving and Thriving in the College Classroom. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Handy, C. (1990). The Age of Unreason. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

© 2008 by Daryl D. Green