Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education

A Survival Guide for the New Normal

by James Ottavio Castagnera (Author)
Textbook X, 138 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance praise for Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Part One: The Challenges
  • Chapter 1. The Five Great Waves: An Overview
  • Chapter 2. The Fifth Wave: A Deeper Dive
  • Chapter 3. The Decline and Partial Resurrection of Public Higher Education
  • Chapter 4. The Decline and Crippling of For-Profit Higher Education
  • Chapter 5. The Decline of Not-for-Profit Higher Education
  • Part Two: Some Possible Solutions
  • Chapter 6. Addressing the Cost of Instruction
  • Chapter 7. Addressing the Facilities “Arms Race”
  • Chapter 8. Capitalizing on a Potential Window of Regulatory Relief
  • Chapter 9. Some Real-World Solutions

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At least for me, 2015 went down as the watershed year. The year began with Sweetbriar College, a tiny school for women in northern Virginia, announcing it intended to close its gates in June, only to be hauled into court and ordered to remain open. Next came the gutting of once mighty Corinthian Colleges by the U.S. Department of Education, leaving some 16,000 current enrollees wondering where that left them…other than saddled with student-loan debts and lacking diplomas. Next, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted the CEO and CFO of ITT, another major player in the for-profit sector of American higher education, for fraud.

The drumbeat of institutional destruction rattled into the ridiculous, when a for-profit business school in north Jersey—revealed as recruiting the homeless into its student body—threw in the towel.

Meanwhile, further south in the Garden State’s mid-section, my own institution—a private, not-for-profit university of some 4,000 students and 600 employees—was just coming off its Sesquicentennial celebration and sustaining an operating deficit for FY 2015–2016. After announcing a third year of no raises for its staff, along with a cut in pension contributions, and negotiating a new contract with AFSCME containing similar flat wages for its clericals, the administration turned to the faculty for additional relief. ← 1 | 2 →

When the American Association of University Professors, which has represented the faculty, librarians, and coaches since 1974, declined to proffer any concessions in midcontract, the president and his cabinet pulled the trigger just days prior to the October 31st deadline for declaring a faculty layoff…the first in the 40-year collective bargaining relationship. The announcement at a “town meeting” attended by perhaps 80 percent of the workforce ignited a predictable firestorm of protest from faculty and students alike. Fourteen programs were targeted for closure with a concomitant release of a like number of full-time faculty, some tenured, and a somewhat larger number of adjunct teachers, some with seniority rights.

The president and trustees weren’t bluffing. But they did welcome the union’s capitulation. Significant wage concessions, combined with an excision from the collective bargaining agreement of several onerous articles that stifled innovation, resulted in a rescission of the furloughs and closings…at least for the time being.1

A dozen years earlier, I had published a journal article entitled “The Next Great Wave in American Higher Education.” In it, I charted four earlier waves of innovation in our industry, beginning with the founding of liberal arts colleges as early as colonial days, progressing through the establishment of the great public land systems starting soon after the Civil War, followed by the creation of the equally distinguished and influential private research universities bearing telling names such as Carnegie-Mellon, and finally the megaversity movement of post-WWII.

My article postulated—not an original prognostication, I grant you—the fifth great wave, a wave generated by new technologies, most notably the computer and the Internet. Twelve years later, that wave has broken upon our shores and, like the tsunamis so powerfully presented in several recent feature films, this wave is threatening some edifices of higher ed once thought impervious to such changes in the environment of our enterprise.

This little book is aimed at assisting my colleagues, who must keep their heads above the maelstrom or drown, in understanding the onslaught they face and, I hope, in their coping successfully with it. Survival is the imperative, smooth sailing the ideal.


1. These events and their sequel are recounted in greater detail in Chapter Nine.

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Part One

The Challenges

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· 1 ·


An Overview

Four distinct epochs or waves can be discerned in the history of higher education. This chapter argues that a fifth wave, perhaps the most revolutionary of all, is currently cresting, posing a unique challenge to higher education administrators and faculty. The four previous waves can be summarized briefly as follows:

In the 85 years between the Declaration of Independence and the Civil War, some 800 liberal arts colleges sprang up across the United States. My own alma maters are typical. Franklin & Marshall College owes half its name to a modest amount of seed money donated by the great Benjamin Franklin in 1787. Case Western Reserve University first saw the light of learning as Western Reserve Academy. “The undergraduate college took…the essential step necessary for a broad education for general citizenship.…These institutions were of a size and scale that could be created by a group of private individuals—not requiring great fortunes or state support” (Cox, p. 14).

The end of the Civil War until the turn of the last century was the era of the great land-grant institutions. This expansion of higher education led to the first shakeout. “By 1900, only 180 of those first 800 small colleges remained active; larger, subsidized state universities consumed ← 5 | 6 → market share by offering more educational services, subsidized prices, and often more pragmatic and career-oriented curricula” (Cox, p. 14).

Around the turn of the last century, the third great wave broke upon the shores of higher learning. Wealthy industrialists such as John D. Rockefeller (The University of Chicago), Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Mellon University), Cornelius Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt University), and Leland Stanford (Stanford University) founded high-quality, private universities. The institutions were often world class in their curricula, faculty, and architecture, importing many of these elements from their great European counterparts. Thus, with Chicago, “Cambridge inspired the architecture, while Berlin inspired the pedagogy and faculty structure” (Cox, p. 14).

Fast forward yet another 50 years, and we see the GI Bill and the postwar technology boom, fueled in part by the Cold War, driving the creation of the “megaversity.” This term is commonly used to describe a variety of large institutions, all of which share at least the following characteristics: faculty numbering in the thousands and student bodies numbering in the tens of thousands; sprawling and/or multiple campuses containing a large number of undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools and colleges; and a large and cumbersome administrative bureaucracy overseeing these complex operations. (We have also seen the proliferation and maturation of the community college. However, in this chapter, I will limit my focus principally to four-year institutions.)

In all, then, we can identify four distinct waves of institutional development in American higher education, each of which spanned about a half century of American history.

The fifth wave is breaking. “The age of the Internet and other new media forms is giving rise to a new wave of institution building, right before our eyes.… Ours is an extraordinary moment in history” (Cox, p. 17). What is it we may expect to observe and experience among the phenomena of this new era? Among the main indicia of this new wave are the following:

There will be a shakeout of weaker institutions as the current disruption leads inevitably to a concomitant contraction.

When the shakeout is complete, higher education will not be populated exclusively by e-educators. Nor will the landscape of higher education boast only the largest and wealthiest bricks-and-mortar institutions. Rather, as in the past, we should anticipate a mix of liberal arts colleges, ← 6 | 7 → land-grant universities, and wealthy private universities, including megaversities, coexisting in rationalized competition with the e-educators and other for-profit entrants of this 21st-century wave.

What do these predictions portend?

The wealthiest among us need not worry about this latest wave of change. For example, with something like $20 billion in endowment money and a reputation second to none, Harvard University has a secure position. An apt analogy might be to the oil industry. At the turn of the last century, Standard Oil was the most powerful corporation in the United States and Rockefeller was its wealthiest citizen. Despite the government’s antitrust suit 100 years ago against Standard Oil, our love affair with automobiles ensured a powerful position in corporate America for the Seven Sisters, those seven corporations, including Mobil and Chevron that succeeded Standard Oil in settlement of the suit.

At the opposite extreme are institutions that might be no more than one or two bad-freshman enrollments away from closing their doors. For these, daring solutions make sense. With little to lose, risk taking is their best bet.

For the rest of us—the overwhelming majority of traditional institutions of higher learning, which are neither assured of success nor in imminent danger of failing—the observations of Fernand Braudel may be worth noting. One of the world’s leading economic historians, he stated the following concerning the waves of prosperity and poverty that have buoyed up and sunk nations: “The moral of the story is that a loss is never the result of a single throw—nor indeed is a triumph. Success depends on seizing the opportunities of a given period, on doing so time and time again, and piling advantage on advantage” (Braudel, p. 50).

Colleges and universities are often the targets of criticism, particularly from would-be or actual corporate partners, for the slowness of decision processes. But corporate America has come in for criticism from its counterparts in Japan and Germany for just the opposite trait—too much attention to a single quarter’s profits as against long-range planning and performance.

We might very well reflect upon the possibility—dare I say, the probability—that we are only at the very start of this next wave of change, a wave that will wash over higher education and ebb around the middle of the new century. We also might consider that while the weakest members of the herd ← 7 | 8 → will fall and perish, representatives of every species—liberal arts college, land-grant institution, private university, megaversity—will survive as part of the new higher education landscape. And survival may depend upon adopting medium- to long-range strategies, rather than racing after quick fixes.

My belief is that the majority will survive. What leads me to this conclusion, rather than the conclusion that the decline of small liberal arts institutions in the second wave will be proportionately repeated? At present, only one percent of the world’s population holds college degrees. In this Information Age, the world’s uneducated masses will look to the United States to meet an enormous, pent-up demand. There will be plenty of “customers” for everyone. And while many millions will want the convenience of learning at a distance, millions more will continue to buy a traditional product or some combination of the two. Therefore, there is ample room for all of us to ride the new wave of change. With good medium- to long-range strategies, which match historical mission, current strengths, and particularized opportunities, we all have a chance to land safely on the beach by mid-century.

The Second Wave: 1865–1900

The period 1820–1896 has been termed “The Victorian Equilibrium”:

The new change regime might be called the price equilibrium of the Victorian era. It coincided almost exactly with the life of Queen Victoria herself (1819–1901), and was closely linked to the cultural values that she represented. Its character was most clearly evident in Great Britain. Prices in that nation fell sharply from 1813 to the early 1820s, and then fluctuated within a fixed range for more than fifty years. They fell again during the depression of 1873, and stabilized once more until nearly the end of the 19th century. There was no sustained inflation in Britain from 1820 to 1896 (Fischer, p. 156).

In the United States, the Civil War stimulated an inflationary spike that disrupted this equilibrium. For the failed Confederacy, the spike was one of hyperinflation. But the war’s aftermath was characterized by deflation; by 1880, the 1861–1865 inflation had been wrung right out of the U.S. economy (Fischer, p. 157). During the latter half of the 19th century, “[l]ong-term improvement was the rule for both highly skilled artisans and farm laborers” (Fischer, p. 160).

Although depression engulfed the Western world in 1873, from about 1876 onward, a “public health revolution” caused death rates to decline dramatically (Fischer, p. 186). The effect was a general rise in world populations, ← 8 | 9 → with the United States getting much more than its share due to immigration. While Rockefeller was building Standard Oil and revolutionizing the way American business operated in the eastern part of the country (see Yergin, chapter 2), East Coast cities, notably New York, were bulging and bustling (Kazin, p. 257).

Among the notable developments of this era were the great land-grant institutions, the genesis of which may be seen from an examination of the career of John Wesley Powell, best remembered as the explorer of the Colorado River (see Worster). Powell’s achievements were supported mostly by government largess, as were the land-grant institutions, including the future University of Illinois, with which he enjoyed an early affiliation. Powell was the son of immigrants whose story typifies that of millions who came to America during the 19th century. Combining an old-world trade (tailoring) with attempts at farming, the family moved from upstate New York to the Midwest. There they bought, developed, and sold a succession of ever-larger tracts of rural land, building their nest egg, until they finally retired in modest affluence to Wheaton, Illinois, by about the time of the Civil War.

The founding of the town, a bit northwest of Chicago, is a typical tale not only of American frontier society but also of American higher education in that early era.

A conference of Wesleyan Methodists meeting in Batavia, Illinois, in 1851 resolved to create a new comprehensive school and college under church auspices—an Oberlin for the prairie. Two brothers named Wheaton stepped forth to offer forty acres of land for a campus in the new town they were platting, a town bearing their name. They conceived of a Christian community free of alcohol, with a Christian school at its core. The conferees readily accepted their offer, for the location was ideal. The new town of Wheaton lay on the outskirts of Chicago in DuPage County, 25 miles west of the city’s Michigan Avenue, and the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad came directly through it. Within a couple of years, five hundred inhabitants were living there, some of them commuting to work in the city, and they were a sober, diligent bunch. Soon a school, the Illinois Institute, was under construction in their midst (Worster, p. 54).

In 1859, President Jonathan Blanchard of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, left there to become the institute’s first leader. Early in his tenure, he proposed that the school be called Wheaton College, probably to encourage further generosity from the brothers who were its first benefactors. The school’s vision was “a combination of intellectual growth and Christian faith” ← 9 | 10 → (Wheaton College). Because Blanchard was an avid abolitionist, it’s no surprise that the student body contributed some 67 soldiers to the Union cause during the Civil War.

Blanchard served Wheaton until 1882. Then, as was not unusual in those times, he was succeeded in the presidency by his son, Charles Albert, whose run was equally impressive—all the way to 1925. An 1870 alumnus of the college, he built both the curriculum and the campus. Science and the industrial arts became important parts of the college (Wheaton College).

One of the fortunate group of antebellum liberal arts institutions to survive and prosper during the successive waves of competition, Wheaton today is a member of the Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges. The consortium is an organization “comprising many of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States, chartered to explore and promote the use of information technology in the service of [their] liberal arts educational missions” (Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges). Dating to 1984 and naming as its founding catalyst President S. Frederick Starr of Oberlin College, the consortium is a fetal form of the consortia that must be fostered for some sectors of higher education to fulfill its promise and its potential in the 21st century (see Worster, chapter two).

In the mid-1850s, the young Powell was drawn neither to Wheaton nor to the mother of all great Midwestern liberal arts colleges, Oberlin, though he briefly sampled both. Seeking science, he was drawn to Illinois College in Jacksonville. Founded in 1829 by the self-styled “Yale Band” of that university’s alumni, Illinois College followed Yale University’s example and opened a scientific department in 1852 (Worster, pp. 70–71).

Like Wheaton, Illinois College is among those early liberal institutions of the first wave that have survived into the 21st century. Today, one of nine Phi Beta Kappa members in the Land of Lincoln, Illinois College enrolls about 900 undergraduates. Among its 19th-century alumni was William Jennings Bryan, class of 1881. By its own account, “A basic strength of Illinois College is its large productive endowment” (Illinois College). Along with membership in a consortium, a large and productive endowment is a key to the survival of these precious morsels in the roiling stew of 21st-century American higher education.

When Powell, after the Civil War, commenced his career as a western explorer and scientist, among his first patrons he counted the new Illinois Industrial University, now the University of Illinois. Here, at last, having had three years of college education by moving among Wheaton, Oberlin, and Illinois College, Powell encountered an early arrival on the second great wave of American higher education. ← 10 | 11 →

Ever since the first student walked through its doors in 1867, the University of Illinois has been a tremendous resource for the State of Illinois. Founded in response to the federal Land Grant Act of 1862, the University immediately met an important need to provide higher education opportunities for working class people (University of Illinois).

Today, the University of Illinois employee more than 6,000 faculty, 6,500 administrators and other professionals, and 8,700 graduate assistants. It awards approximately 20,500 degrees per year and counts more than half a million living alumni. Its annual operating budget is about $5.64 billion, while it enrolls some 78,500 students in 800 buildings scattered across three campuses (University of Illinois).

The Third Wave: 1900–1945

While one might choose any of the great private universities to illustrate the third great wave in American higher education, I have selected Case Western Reserve University for two reasons. The first reason is personal: Case Western Reserve is my alma mater; I care about it very much and come to this place in my narrative knowing something about it. The second is that Case Western Reserve—today one of the 30-plus American universities in the so-called “Billion Dollar Club,” comprising institutions boasting $1 billion or more of endowment—is a splendid example of a resilient institution, whose long history spans all four great waves identified above and which seems well positioned to survive and prosper in this fifth one.

Western Reserve Academy, founded in Hudson, Ohio, in 1826, can be counted among the proliferation of liberal arts colleges established during the first wave. Of the 800 such colleges founded during that 85-year cycle, only about 180 survived the second great wave of land-grant institutions during the second half of the 19th century. In 1880, the college moved to Cleveland. Amasa Stone, an ally of Vanderbilt and an adversary of Rockefeller, financed the move. Said to be the “richest man in Cleveland,” he gave the college $600,000 over a three-year period (Cramer, pp. 77–78).

In 1881, the Case School of Applied Science opened in downtown Cleveland. Through the sustained generosity and vision of Stone and other moneyed Clevelanders, 43 acres were acquired on Cleveland’s east side, and Case’s first permanent building was built beside the new facilities of Western Reserve. Thus, Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology, ← 11 | 12 → as the institutions came to be named, grew together, their campuses more or less divided by Euclid Avenue, the city’s major east–west thoroughfare. Symbolic of the symbiosis between the two institutions was the Michelson–Morley ether-drift experiment in 1887. Albert Michelson was a Case physicist who was at The University of Chicago by the time he won a Nobel Prize for his work. Edward Morley was a Western Reserve chemist. Their collaboration would one day help confirm Einstein’s theoretical work (Cramer, pp. 57–70).

While the two institutions would not formally merge until 1967, in a very real sense they were to Cleveland what The University of Chicago was to the Windy City and Carnegie Mellon University was to Pittsburgh for the half century before they tied the legal knot.

It was the titans of the American industry, enriched, sometimes to fabulous levels of wealth, during the latter half of the 19th century, who built these great private universities. Case in point was Rockefeller. No industrial magnate’s story is more closely tied to the rise of American industrial might than his. On February 1, 1865, Rockefeller bid $72,500 and bought his first oil refinery—in Cleveland. “I ever point to that day as the beginning of the success I have made of my life,” he later wrote (Yergin, p. 35). The purchase was the start of the rationalization of the chaos that was the western Pennsylvania oil boom. And Standard Oil was the instrument of Rockefeller’s power. By the end of the 1870s, Rockefeller and his associates ruled an empire of refineries, pipelines, and oil fields that amounted to a near monopoly.

So powerful had Standard Oil become by the turn of the century that in 1904, recently re-elected President Theodore Roosevelt targeted the conglomerate for attack under the newly enacted Sherman Anti-Trust Act. In 1909, the federal district court found in favor of the government in its suit to bust the Standard Oil trust, and in 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that verdict. Although the remedy resulted in the creation of seven separate companies from the Standard monopoly, the so-called Seven Sisters (Yergin, pp. 109–110), Rockefeller himself would end up even wealthier than before the lawsuit. Indeed, he was the wealthiest American of his time, his riches surpassed only by some few potentates and royal families.

Rockefeller’s charitable activities touched a wide range of causes and projects. In higher education, his baby was The University of Chicago, where his largess enabled the theft of top faculty from competitor institutions around the nation, including Michelson of Case (Cramer, p. 213). But Rockefeller did not ignore the leading private institutions of his hometown. For example, in 1904, he provided Case with $200,000 to build two new buildings, one for physics, and the other dedicated to mining and metallurgy (Cramer, p. 243). ← 12 | 13 →

The Fourth Wave: 1945–2000

For a while, at least, all boats rose on the gargantuan fourth wave of American higher education. Millions of returning servicemen, supported by the GI Bill, sought learning at institutions of all shapes and sizes across the country. To this day, the odd Quonset hut, hastily erected to help house this vast influx, is still being used in one way or another on a few campuses. While World War II devastated the rest of the world, the United States was much more than just untouched: its economy was strengthened and expanded. Population growth drove a housing boom that swept into the countryside, where William Levitt used Henry Ford’s techniques in the development of the suburban sprawl (Halberstam, p. 132).

Added to the influx of students was an influx of government funding as higher education was enlisted into the Cold War in the 1950s. The Vietnam War kept the largess flowing throughout the 1960s, notwithstanding the leftist critique of the megaversity and the antiwar sentiment and the campus violence the war spawned. Only in the 1970s, as the war wound down and new competition—notably, a proliferation of community colleges—grew did the quarter century of growth and affluence show signs of weakening.

By the early 1970s, many universities were overbuilt and financially overextended. The male student population dropped off as the military draft gave way to a lottery system and then ended entirely. In Cleveland, meanwhile, two new institutions, Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College, competed primarily for undergraduates with Case Western Reserve and the other private colleges and universities in the city. On top of all this, in Cleveland, the great steel mills were starting to contract and finally close in the face of foreign competition from countries economically recovered from World War II. During the first year of its merger, Case Reserve suffered a $3 million deficit. Shortfalls of $4 million followed in each of the succeeding three fiscal/academic years (Cramer, p. 284).

During the past three decades, higher education has pursued a range of strategies that have enabled most of its institutions to survive challenges and even to grow and prosper. Numerous colleges have expanded their offerings and activities and become universities.

Major private institutions such as Case Western Reserve discovered the capital campaign, and learned to overlap the private stage of each new campaign with the public stage of the one just winding down, ideally having surpassed its stated monetary goal. By the end of the century, billion-dollar ← 13 | 14 → capital campaigns had become almost common. The billion-dollar club among university endowments at the turn of this century included some 30 members. Harvard is consistently on top with an endowment approaching $37-plus billion, and the likes of Case Western Reserve brought up the rear with about $1.5–2.0 billion in the bank (Chronicle of Higher Education).

Prestigious liberal arts institutions, some dating all the way back to the first wave—such as Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Franklin & Marshall colleges in Southeastern Pennsylvania—chose to remain small, selective colleges and enjoyed the financial soundness to sustain that choice (Chronicle of Higher Education).

Public universities, enduring declining appropriations, learned to play the endowment game, cultivating contributions from their often-vast alumni associations, while competing successfully for the soft dollars of government and private grants. Community colleges are also learning to raise private funds in the face of legislative austerity, though their alumni are not so easily tapped, because many go on to shift their affiliations to four-year institutions. Population growth in the last decade of the 20th century helped all these boats to rise.

The Fifth Wave: 2001–?

American higher education entered the 21st century with great advantages. The world respected it and wanted what it had to offer. World population was growing, many would say at an alarming rate. And only one person in every 100 on this planet had a college degree. In short, there was a massive market out there and American higher education had the product that most in that market wished to purchase.

It must be added, though, that not all current entrants in the market were destined to benefit proportionally from this unique opportunity. To the contrary, some were not destined even to survive. Only two years into the new century, four U.S. colleges had closed (Selingo, p. A10).

However, no one should be surprised to learn that the many weak sisters among the large family of U.S. institutions were planning and striving to survive and to improve their financial and competitive positions. The surprising news was that Harvard’s then-new, and already controversial, president, Lawrence H. Summers, was arguing that the nation’s richest and most prestigious institution needed “nothing less than a cultural revolution on campus” (Symonds). According to an article, Summers had concluded that “Harvard ← 14 | 15 → College is failing to provide undergrads with the education they need in today’s fast-changing global economy.” He also wanted to place Harvard at the center of education reform in medicine and the life sciences, making Cambridge/Boston the Silicon Valley of biotechnology.

While a powerhouse like Harvard can pick and choose the paths it will take to ensure its primacy in the new era, most colleges and universities may be said to be reacting rather than leading. And much of this reaction has been to the challenge of the for-profit, often Internet-based, competitors. For many schools, meeting this challenge meant a leap (often, a leap of faith) into distance-learning ventures. Early results were decidedly mixed. Some, like Temple University, shut down their e-ventures after losing a bundle and took a step back from the distance-learning market. This corresponded with some disappointing results for business schools that bet heavily on e-commerce programs (Alexander) only to be fried in the great dot-com meltdown of 2000–2001 (Carr and Blumenstyk, p. A-39). But the online learning enterprises of at least some traditional, nonprofit universities appear to be prospering down to the present day in the rough-and-tumble world of distance learning.

As for the for-profit bogeymen themselves, consolidation and collapse became the order of the day during the Obama years. Geoffrey Cox was correct 17 years ago that “a new wave of institution building” is occurring “right before our eyes” (Cox, p. 14). For example, the University of Phoenix started with a class of only eight working adults in 1976. Today, it is the nation’s largest for-profit university, under the umbrella of a publicly traded parent, the Apollo Group. At its peak, it boasted of some 70,000 part-time students attending classes at 100 physical locations across the country. Its sister, the University of Phoenix Online, which trades separately from the Apollo Group, counted more than 25,000 degree seekers in its virtual classrooms as it marked a 47 percent increase in revenues and an 11 percent climb in profits between 2000 and 2001 (Brenowitz, p. 22). But in the second decade of the new century, Phoenix stumbled and enrollments slipped… more on this later.

The response of many traditional nonprofit institutions to the challenge of these for-profit players was to forge partnerships across the gap. Some prime early examples included the following:

Columbia’s Fathom teamed with four for-profits, including Kaplan Colleges,1 to offer online learning.

As the University of Phoenix made a second attempt to be licensed by the State of New Jersey, it announced in 2001 a deal with New Jersey ← 15 | 16 → City University to use the latter’s library facilities, thus overcoming a major problem that had led to denial of its application several years earlier (Smith).

Corporate universities, which tailored their offerings to the perceived needs of major corporations in partnership with nearby colleges and universities, had reportedly ballooned from 400 to 2,000 during the first dozen years or so of the new era. Some examples included Walt Disney World and Valencia Community College; the Bank of Montreal and Dalhousie University; Ford Motor Company and Mott Community College; and The Hartford Financial Services Group and the University of Connecticut (Meister, p. B-10).

Faced with increasing student enrollments and the deferred maintenance of aging dormitories, some institutions, such as McNeese State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, partnered with such private developers as University Housing Services to build new residence halls (Sausner, pp. 35–36). (This is another trend we will explore more closely a bit later.)

Other traditional nonprofits were looking to merge with one another rather than partner with the for-profit sector. At the very start of this century, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that “a wave of collegiate mergers…appears to be picking up steam. Since November [2000] six mergers of higher-education institutions have been announced. At least three more are in the talking stages” (Van Der Werf, p. A-26). In 2000, 24 of the nation’s 28 Jesuit colleges and universities formed JesuitNET to pool resources, mostly via distance education offerings (McMurtrie, p. A-45).

Lastly, it’s worth noting that a few universities were moving beyond the well-established study-abroad models of international institutional relationships to form more intimate links. These links were aimed at enabling the American partner to deliver desired educational services to needy foreign institutions, the logistical, financial, and cultural hurdles notwithstanding. For example, early in 2002, Purdue University signed a contract with Afghanistan’s minister of higher education at the height of the War on Terror, under which the Midwestern university would work closely with the new Afghan government in the rebuilding of the shattered Kabul University (Del Castillo).

And, so, we plunged headlong into the surf, as the Fifth Wave broke on our shores. ← 16 | 17 →


1. In May 2017 Kaplan was purchased by Purdue in the first such acquisition of a for-profit chain of campuses by a public university…more on this later, too.


Alexander, D., “E-M.B.A. Just Another Dot-Com Casualty,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 1, 2001.

Arnone, M., “Fathom Adds Corporate Training to Its Distance-Education Offerings,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2002.

Braudel, F., The Perspective of the World (New York: Harper & Row, 1984).

Brenowitz, S., “Phoenix Rising,” Matrix Magazine, September 2001, pp. 21–23.

Carr, S. and G. Blumenstyk, “The Bubble Bursts for Education Dot-Coms,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 30, 2000, p. A39.

Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Chronicle Almanac 2002–03,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 30, 2002.

Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges, Charter, September 24, 2002, accessed at www.liberalarts.org

Cox, G. M., “Why I Left a University to Join an Internet Education Company,” Change, November/December 2000, pp. 12–18.

Cramer, C. H., Case Western Reserve: A History of the University, 1826–1976 (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1976).

Del Castillo, D., “Afghanistan Signs Pact with Purdue to Aid Kabul U,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 14, 2002.

Fischer, D. H., The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Halberstam, D., The Fifties (New York: Villard Books, 1993).

Illinois College, Historic Years, September 24, 2002, accessed at www.ic.edu/About/historic.htm

Kazin, A., Fear of the City. In A Sense of History: The Best Writing from American Heritage, edited by Byron Dobell (New York: American Heritage, 1985).

McMurtrie, B., “Jesuit Colleges Try to Bring Their Values to Online Education,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 12, 2000.

Meister, J. C., “The Brave New World of Corporate Education,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2001.

Sausner, R., “Building Out of the Crunch,” University Business, February 2002, pp. 35–38.

Selingo, J., “New England Loses Its Edge in Higher Education,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 15, 2002.

Smith, E., University of Phoenix. Personal e-mail to author, September 28, 2001.

Symonds, W. C., “Larry Summers Has an Ambitious Agenda to Remake the Nation’s Leading University. Can He Do It?” Business Week Online, 18 February. September 24, 2002, accessed at www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_07/b3770001.htm ← 17 | 18 →

University of Illinois, University Profile. September 24, 2002, accessed at www.uillinois.edu/university.

Van Der Werf, M., “More Colleges Are Seeing the Virtues of Merging,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 23, 2001.

Wheaton College, “General Information: History and Heritage,” September 24, 2002, accessed at www.wheaton.edu/heritage.html

Worster, D., A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Yergin, D., The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).

← 18 | 19 →

· 2 ·


A Deeper Dive

Fast forward to the second decade of our new millennium and meet the voice of higher education’s doom: Professor Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School. In March 2013, Dr. Christensen garnered headlines with his prediction that by 2028 (i.e., in a little more than another decade from now), 50 percent of all American colleges and universities will likely be facing bankruptcy (Castagnera, p. 7).

The professor’s prognostication was prompted by the then-imminent closure of Saint Paul’s College, a historically black school founded in 1888 in Lawrenceville (VA). In the three years since that closure, others have followed in its wake. During the first half of 2015 alone:

March 2015: Two small, Southern liberal arts colleges—Virginia’s all-female Sweetbriar College and Tennessee Temple University, a Christian liberal arts institution—announced their intent to close the gates (Bidwell).

April 2015: The for-profit Corinthian Colleges, once one of America’s largest chains, abruptly closed its remaining 28 campuses, leaving some16,000 current students stranded (Zillman).

May 2015: For-profit Education Management Corporation announced the closure of 15 out of 52 Art Institute locations (Zillman). ← 19 | 20 →

May 2015: Career Education Corporation indicated its intent to terminate its 14 Sanford Brown College campuses (Zillman).

While somewhat startling, this short sampling might not seem cause for concern, considering that institutions of higher education number somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000, depending upon how inclusive one wants one’s list to be. Nonetheless, these failures have led some leading prognosticators to join Clay Christensen in predicting an accelerating trend. Notably, in September 2015, Moody’s Investor Service released a report that highlighted “a persistent inability among small colleges to increase revenues,” with the resulting prediction that some 15 more such schools would close by the next year (Woodhouse).

Yet again, one might retort that these closures represent a miniscule percentage of the 2,300 private, nonprofit colleges that dot the American landscape (Woodhouse). The multimillion dollar question thus becomes: Is Dr. Christensen correct? Or, put another way: Are the current closures the crest of a coming deluge of institutional demises, or merely an extension of a steady-state historical tendency of a few colleges and universities to fail almost every year, since time out of mind? (See “Index….”) An attempted answer to this question might begin with a summation of Dr. Christensen’s “Disruption” theory.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

In 1997, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Christensen) was a disruption in its own right. It quickly made Dr. Christensen one of the most influential business thinkers on the planet. The Economist anointed his book one of the half-dozen best of the 20th century’s second half. Thinkers50 twice appointed him to a top ranking (Goldstein, p. B6).

In his introduction, Christensen says,

This book is about the failure of companies to stay atop their industries when they confront certain types of market and technological change…. Such seemingly unaccountable failures happen in industries that move fast and in those that move slow; in those built on electronics technology and those built on chemical and mechanical technology; in manufacturing and service industries. (Christensen, p. 7)

His opening example is Sears Roebuck. He cites Fortune for the proposition that in 1964 “everybody in its organization simply did the right thing, easily ← 20 | 21 → and naturally. And their cumulative effect was to create a powerhouse of a company.” But, continues Christensen in 1997,

[N]o one speaks about Sears that way today. Somehow, it completely missed the advent of discount retailing and home centers. In the midst of today’s catalogue retailing boom, Sears has been driven from that business. Indeed, the very viability of its retailing operations has been questioned. (Christensen, p. 7)

The Innovator’s Dilemma is replete with additional examples of once-prosperous companies falling from grace in the face of cheaper competitors. Some 165 pages later, he offers a summation of his thesis in seven succinct points:

“[T[he pace of progress that markets demand or can absorb may be different from the progress offered by technology.” That, he claims, means that products apparently not useful to today’s customers, i.e., disruptive technologies, may be just the ticket tomorrow.

Managing innovation means giving enough resources to the right technologies and letting others starve.

Then you need to match the market with the new technology.

Most companies’ capabilities are a lot more specialized than their managers realize.

The information may not even exist to make large and decisive investments in new, disruptive technologies.

Disruptive technologies favor “first movers.”

Bottom line, despite their technology, brands, manufacturing prowess, managerial experience, distribution clout, and cash on hand, successfull, established firms have a hard time flexing to innovations that don’t immediately make money. “Because disruptive technologies rarely make sense during the years when investing in them is most important, conventional managerial wisdom at established firms constitutes an entry and mobility barrier that entrepreneurs and investors can bank on” (Christensen, pp. 173–174).

Application of this theory to higher education was but a short step for Christensen. The application of his thesis to higher education runs roughly like this: Higher education has never before faced a core technology capable of disrupting the status quo.

[A]n Ivy League wannabe could follow only one route: intensive investment in facilities, faculty and the other indicia of a first-tier university. By contrast, Christensen ← 21 | 22 → contends, today online learning is that missing core technology. Almost anyone now can capture, stream and distribute Ivy League-level content over the Internet. And this will blow the walls off traditional higher education. Put another way, why should a student borrow money, pay exorbitant tuition, and sit in a traditional classroom listening to a mediocre professor, when she can learn the same material from the top expert in the world in a MOOC (Massive Online Open-enrollment Course), for which her college will give her course credit? (Castagnera, p. 7)

Christensen spun out this higher ed adaptation to book length in The Innovative University (Christensen and Eyring).

In the past 20 years, Professor Christensen has become a cottage industry with two consulting companies guided by a son and a daughter, nine (mostly coauthored) books, and a reputed lecture fee north of $40,000 (Goldstein). At the same time, his disruption theory has come under attack, most notably by an in-depth examination of the 77 case studies in his seminal work. This paper reportedly finds that only 10 percent of the companies studied meet all the criteria laid down by Christensen (Goldstein). Meanwhile, the Harvard guru of disruption continues to expand his theory into such diverse arenas as religion and politics. And he holds fast to his prediction that, as online learning becomes more sophisticated and effective, it will be the disruptive technology that will put large swaths of colleges and universities under water (Goldstein).

Only time will tell if Clay Christensen is correct. But we should not wait another decade for the answer. Indeed, if he’s right, that will be too late.

A Perfect Storm?

We should not wait because online learning is not the only disruptor of higher education crashing against the shores of our college campuses. Other forces also are at work, combining to create a potential perfect storm to disrupt the lethargic, the complacent, and the slothful among us. Those forces include:

The decline of the middle class and, in particular, the erosion of home equity;

Increasing competition among colleges and universities;

The liberalization of credentialing, by which I mean the nearly universal ability of students to cobble together a college degree from a mix of life experiences, community college credits, AP examinations, as well as Christensen’s vaunted online programs. ← 22 | 23 →

As in the book The Perfect Storm, these three “weather systems” are converging, such that Dr. Christensen’s prediction may come true even though his theory of the cause is only a partial explanation.

The Middle Class and Its Diminished Home Equity

On December 14, 2014, The Washington Post explained “Why America’s Middle Class Is Lost.” Explained the article’s author, “It used to be that when the U.S. economy grew, workers up and down the economic ladder saw their incomes increase, too. But over the past 25 years, the economy has grown 83 percent, after adjusting for inflation—and the typical family’s income hasn’t budged.” Continues the piece, “In that time, corporate profits doubled as a share of the economy. Workers today produce nearly twice as many goods and services per hour on the job as they did in 1989, but as a group, they get less of the nation’s economic pie” (Tankersley).

The New York Times agreed. “The middle class, if defined as households making between $35,000 and $100,000 a year, shrank in the final decades of the 20th century.” That partly, said the writers, was a good thing: many Americans moved into the upper-middle class, sometimes called “the affluent.” But, since 2000, “the middle class has been shrinking for a decidedly more alarming reason: Incomes have fallen” (Parlapiano et al.).

And in April of 2015, Time Magazine joined the chorus of media voices singing the dirge for the middle class. “Under the traditional economic model, which ranks all American families by their incomes and then analyzes those in the middle, the median income of the middle class increased only slightly, by between 2% and 8%, between 1989 and 2013.” But, the article continues, “if you use a different economic model that takes into account demographic and sociological attributes, such as age, educational attainment, race, or ethnicity, the median income of the middle class has actually decreased by 16% during that same period….” (Edwards). Time based this assertion on a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, entitled The Middle Class May be Under More Pressure Than You Think (Emmons and Noeth).

Last but not the least, let’s look at what Fortune Magazine had to say. Its June 20, 2015 article offered up the following disturbing data:

America’s child-poverty level is the worst among developed countries, even worse than Greece and Eastern European nations. ← 23 | 24 →

Median adult wealth, standing at $39,000, ranks 27th, behind such countries as Cyprus and Ireland.

Per capita median U.S. income is $18,700, described as both “relatively low” and “unchanged since 2000.”

14.5 percent of Americans—north of 40 million—live below the official poverty line, putting the U.S. behind Albania and Morocco.

The U.S. suffers from the fourth highest income inequality in the world, trailing only Chile, Mexico and Turkey. (Coplan)

As troubling as these data may be, equally or more cautionary for higher education is the decline in Americans’ home equity… typically the major repository of savings for most of us. In 2011, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed that home equity across the country had declined by 60 percent since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008 (Yedinak). As recently as September 2015, 4.4 million properties remained “underwater,” i.e., in a negative-equity situation (Gerrity).

Why do these dismal data matter to higher education? The answer should be obvious: American families’ ability—and willingness—to borrow for college costs have been profoundly impacted.

The dimensions of student debt are astonishing. Some 40 million Americans owe an estimated $1.2 trillion in student-loan debt (Rayfield). The class of 2014 graduated with average “mortgages” on their diplomas of $28,950, up 2 percent from the previous year’s graduating class (Institute). Ironically, these numbers may be a giving us a glance in our rear-view mirrors, rather than a vision of the future. While tuition and fees at four-year public universities have risen 40 percent in 10 years, 29 percent at two-year institutions, and 26 percent at nonprofit privates, student borrowing declined 6 percent in the academic year 2014–2015 and was 14 percent lower than in AY 2010–2011 (Camera).

This gap between college costs and consumers’ willingness and/or ability to borrow must be closed somehow. And one way—the major way—is tuition discounting. In 2003, nonprofit private colleges and universities reported average tuition discount rates of around 37.9 percent. In 2014, that average had risen to 48 percent. The average freshman in 2014–2015 received an institutional grant worth 54.3 percent of tuition. Eighty-nine percent of all incoming freshmen received some sort of a discount (Woodhouse 2).

According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, “While the economy has improved, many families are still struggling. In a lot of communities you’re seeing, if not job losses, jobs that don’t pay nearly as much as they did. There’s an increased inability [of needy ← 24 | 25 → students to go to college] and an unwillingness to pay even if you did have the money” (Woodhouse 2).

This phenomenon means that tuition increases, by and large, are negated by deepening discounts. Net revenue is growing at an anemic 0.4 percent annually in the nonprofit private sector of higher education. It doesn’t take a Clayton Christensen to understand that this is a formula for failure, if the trend continues. Indeed, most administrators get it and many “are trying to leverage other strategies to recruit students, like freezing tuition, expanding marketing efforts, or increasing selectivity” (Woodhouse 2).

What expectations can we hold out for these strategies?

“When Everybody Is Somebody…”

“When everyone is somebody, then no-one’s anybody,” cautioned Gilbert and Sullivan in “The Gondoliers.” In his seminal work on prioritization in higher education, Robert Dickeson captured that thought this way:

“First, institutions’ own marketing efforts to induce students to enroll have driven the accretion of academic offerings for several years…. This pattern of outbidding the competition academically is both costly…as well as usually futile” (Dickeson, p. 16).

“Most institutions are unrealistically striving to be all things to all people in their quest for students, reputation, and support rather than focusing their resources on the mission and programs that they can accomplish with distinction” (Dickeson, p. 15).

And “it is clear that colleges and universities have been adding programs, services, equipment, buildings, and public relations efforts to achieve greater reputational prominence” (Dickeson, p. 6).

Increasing selectivity requires increasing amenities in a sort of “arms race” with the competition. From 2001 to 2011, the percentage of university budgets devoted to “student services” increased from 17 to 20 percent. Observed one expert, “Schools are all going after a fairly small pool of students who are high achieving and high income and able to pay much of their own way to college. They’re trying to build more amenities—so you hear about the rock climbing walls and the lazy rivers” (Schoen).

The crucial question, of course, is whether the consistent growth of higher education from the tiny liberal arts colleges of the colonial days to the ← 25 | 26 → megaversities of today, which I chronicled in Chapter One, will continue, or has our industry peaked prefatory to a protracted decline. “So if the big picture is of persistent growth over the long haul, of increasing numbers of campuses, instructors, researchers, administrators, support staff, undergraduates, and graduate students, how can we speak today of an apparently sudden reversal into decline?” (Alexander). Here’s how:

The number of students enrolled in colleges has declined despite growth of the American population. A 2013 survey of admissions directors found that 60 percent had fallen short of their enrollment goals (Jaschik). More ominously, that year’s 2-percent decline hit four-year colleges hardest (Perez-Pena).

As pointed out above, those students attending college are spending less on tuition due to a declination in home equity with a concomitant reluctance to tap into what assets remain, a trend countered by ever-increasing tuition-discount rates.

And so, here is the challenge: In order to compete for a decreased pool of “customers,” universities are investing in (often-extravagant) physical amenities and a dizzying menu of majors, minors, and certifications…to be all things to all students. At the same time, declining tuition revenue demands trimming unprofitable programs. A combination of investment and cost cutting must results in a net revenue balance, or preferably a net gain, if a tuition-driven institution is to survive.

But, even if this strategy is executed ably by school administrators, will this prove sufficient? Here, we return to this chapter’s start.

Liberalized Credentialing

In discussing this, I am circling back to Christensen’s disruption theory, but with an expanded conception of its application to higher education. Where Christensen focuses on his so-called “core technology” of online learning, I propose to include here a wide range of options now presented to students seeking to gain a college credential as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.

Dr. Christensen, as we have seen, grounds his prediction of a 50 percent fallout from private higher education upon the disruption being caused by online learning. The Babson Survey Group’s 12th annual survey of online learning reported slower growth in 2014 than in prior years. ← 26 | 27 → The slowdown was driven by an 8.7 percent decline in online enrollments in the for-profit sector (Grade Level). However, “The fact that online learning still grew illustrates that its fundamental appeal—primarily in public four-year institutions and private non-profit four-year institutions, according to the report—remains quite strong. Today’s big news that Arizona State University will offer its freshman year online for credit at a price that, at last, positions an online program from a public university as disruptive will only fuel that growth is my guess. Furthermore, according to the report, the proportion of academic leaders who say that online learning is critical to their institution’s long-term strategy is at an all-time high of 70.8 percent, and those institutions reporting that it is not a critical part of their long-term strategy has dropped to a new low of 8.6 percent” (Horn).

Community colleges were particularly favored by the Obama Administration (White House), as well as many state governments. One result of this favoritism was (and pretty much still is) growing pressure upon four-year institutions to articulate their curricula so as to accept every credit earned at the lower level. An outstanding example is NJ Transfer (NJ Transfer), about which Inside Higher Ed observed, “A New Jersey law signed by the governor Thursday offers an unusual approach to easing transfer of community college credits by requiring that, upon acceptance, an associate degree awarded by a county college must be fully transferable and count as two years toward a baccalaureate degree at any of the state’s public institutions” (Redden). This approach is no longer “unusual.” Whether mandated by law or not, four-year institutions would rather have half a loaf than have no student at all.

A growing number of universities also are awarding credit for life experiences.

One proponent has identified five ways in which various institutions facilitate this shortcut to a degree:

Challenge examinations, which include the College Level Examination Program ; the DSST Standardized Subject Tests; Excelsior College Credit by Exam;

Academic portfolios;

Corporate training programs; ← 27 | 28 →

Professional licenses and certifications, such as FAA pilot, engineer and mechanic licenses, and the respiratory therapist certification; and

Military training (GETEDUCATED).

The upshot is that while Professor Christensen’s disruption theory may be wanting in itself, it is receiving plenty of help from other educational trends and economic forces, such that the Harvard superstar’s reputation may be rescued and his personal empire continue to prosper, as his prognostications pertaining to the dismal future of American, and especially private, higher education are proven to be accurate.

At any rate, prudence demands that his prophesies be taken seriously, lest through our lethargy they become self-fulfilling.


Alexander, Bryan, “Has Higher Ed Peaked?” Inside Higher Ed, April 7, 2014, accessed at https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2014/04/07/essay-considers-whether-higher-education-us-has-peaked

Bidwell, Allie, “Two Private Liberal Arts Colleges Will Shut Down,” U.S. News & World Report, March 3, 2015, accessed at http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/03/declining-enrollments-financial-pressure-force-two-liberal-arts-colleges-to-close

Camera, Lauren, “College Costs Rise, But Student Borrowing Declines,” U.S. News & Word Repost, November 4, 2015, accessed at http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/11/04/college-costs-rise-but-student-borrowing-declines

Castagnera, James Ottavio, Handbook for Student Law for Higher Education Administrators (New York: Peter Lang, Revised Edition 2014).

Christensen, Clayton M., The Innovator’s Dilemma: When Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press 1997), accessed at http://jhqedu.com:1042/upload/books/Book1010/20140311115729871.pdf

Christensen, Clayton M. and Henry J. Eyring, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass 2011).

Coplan, Jill Hamburg, “12 Signs America Is on the Decline,” Fortune Magazine, July 20, 2015, accessed at http://fortune.com/2015/07/20/united-states-decline-statistics-economic/

Dickeson, Robert C., Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services: Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, Revised Edition 2010).

Edwards, Haley Sweetland, “The Middle Class Is Doing Worse Than You Think,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2015, accessed at http://time.com/3814048/income-inequality-middle-class/

Emmons, William R. and Bryan J. Noeth, The Middle Class May Be Under More Pressure Than You Think (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 2015), accessed at https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/in-the-balance/issue11-2015/the-middle-class-may-be-under-more-pressure-than-you-think ← 28 | 29 →

Gerrity, Michael, “4.4 Million U.S. Properties Remain in Negative Equity,” World Property Journal, September 15, 2015, accessed at http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/united-states/irvine/negative-equity-housing-data-2015-frank-nothaft-corelogic-national-home-price-index-hpi-home-foreclosure-data-completed-foreclosures-frank-nothaft-anand-nallathambi-real-estate-news-9358.php

“5 Ways to Earn College Credit for Career and Life Experience,” GETEDUCATED, accessed at http://www.geteducated.com/cutting-online-university-cost/145-online-life-experience-degree

Goldstein, Evan R., “The Undoing of Disruption,” The Chronicle Review, October 2, 2015, pp. B6–B9.

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Horn, Michael, “Report That Says Online Learning Growth Is Slowing Misses Big Picture,” Forbes, April 23, 2015, accessed at http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2015/04/23/report-that-says-online-learning-growth-is-slowing-misses-big-picture/

“Index of Colleges and Universities that Have Closed, Merged, or Changed Names,” College History Garden, November 25, 2014, accessed at http://collegehistorygarden.blogspot.com/2014/11/index-of-colleges-and-universities-that.html

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Jaschik, Scott, “Feeling the Heat: The 2013 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors,” Inside Higher Ed, September 18, 2013, accessed at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/feeling-heat-2013-survey-college-and-university-admissions-directors

NJ Transfer, accessed at https://www.njtransfer.org/

Parlapiano, Alicia, Robert Gebeloff and Shan Carter, “The Shrinking American Middle Class,” The New York Times, January 26, 2015, accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/01/25/upshot/shrinking-middle-class.html?_r=0

Perez-Pena, Richard, “College Enrollment Falls as Economy Recovers,” The New York Times, July 25, 2013, accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/education/in-a-recovering-economy-a-decline-in-college-enrollment.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1

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X, 138
ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2018 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2018. X, 138 pp., 1 table

Biographical notes

James Ottavio Castagnera (Author)

James Ottavio Castagnera , J.D., Ph.D., has spent more than 30 years in higher education. He has published 20 books, as well as some 50 professional/scholarly articles and book chapters. Dr. Castagnera’s teaching has taken him to the University of Texas-Austin, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Widener University School of Law, and at present Drexel University’s law school; he also does about 30 webinars per year on higher education topics. Currently, he is Associate Provost and Legal Counsel for Academic Affairs at New Jersey’s Rider University and the managing director of his own consulting firm. In these dual capacities he regularly conducts internal investigations in sexual harassment and assault cases; advises on and develops student policies and adjudicates student disciplinary cases; develops new academic programs; manages international-student legal issues; supervises services for students with disabilities; and handles a wide variety of other regulatory and legal matters.


Title: Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education