No matter where you stand on the controversy swirling to some conclusion -- perhaps -- at the University of Virginia today, one thing is clear:
The issues occurring at Mr. Jefferson's university -- and at places like Purdue, which selected Gov. Mitch Daniels as its next president -- are occurring throughout public higher education.
As Chronicle of Higher Education Editor Jeffrey Selingo says in today's New York Times:
"There is good reason for the anxiety. Setting aside the specifics of the Virginia drama, university leaders desperately need to transform how colleges do business. Higher education must make up for the mistakes it made in what I call the industry’s “lost decade,” from 1999 to 2009. Those years saw a surge in students pursuing higher education, driven partly by the colleges, which advertised heavily and created enticing new academic programs, services and fancy facilities."
The transformational issues include how best to grapple with technology; how to increase access and affordability after years of tuition increases and flat or declining state support; how to determine what constitutes an educated man or woman in a dynamic and struggling 21st century, global economy?
None of the answers are easy ones.
But higher education has to get them right -- not just for the future of universities, but for states and the country we all serve.