Education in America, which began with Christian colleges and schools, is in trouble. Private education in particular is facing the greatest crisis in the nearly three and a half centuries of its history. Many independent and private institutions are confronting difficulties that threaten their survival. The shift from black to red has become the common rather than exceptional outcome of annual operations—a trend that, if not checked, will certainly decimate the independent colleges and schools of the nation.
“But for years education has been crying poor,” someone says. “Are things really so critical?” The answer is yes. The New Depression in Higher Education (McGraw-Hill, 1971) by Earl F. Cheit reports an intensive study made for the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. Judging from a cross section of American colleges and universities, Dr. Cheit, former vice-chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, concludes that two-thirds of public and private higher institutions are either having financial troubles right now or are moving toward them. In The Red and the Black, William F. Jellema, research director of the Association of American Colleges, presents the preliminary report of the association’s study of the current and projected financial state of private colleges. A comprehensive questionnaire, sent to most of the independent, accredited four-year colleges in the nation, elicited replies from three-quarters of them. According to the report, the “average” institution among the 554 respondents concluded its annual operations with a net current fund surplus of $39,000 for the year 1967–68; this has now changed to a projected current deficit for 1970–71 of $115,000. No wonder Dr. Jellema says: “Private colleges ...1
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