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Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education

A Survival Guide for the New Normal

James Ottavio Castagnera

The Fifth Wave in higher education is breaking on American shores. Unlike the four waves that preceded it from colonial times through the post-WWII mega-versity expansion, this wave is disrupting all sectors of the higher education industry. It will sweep away those institutions—be they public, private non-profit, or for-profit—that fail to recognize and meet the threat. Harvard professor Clay Christensen, the father of "disruptive innovation," predicts that as many as half of all American universities will close or go bankrupt within the next 10 to 15 years (See Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2017).

Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education: A Survival Guide for the New Normal charts the dimensions of the Fifth Wave challenge and offers numerous general and specific suggestions for surfing the wave and surviving its tsunami-like impact. Part One of this concise handbook explains why our industry is in treacherous waters and outlines the impact of the Fifth Wave to date on all three major sectors of American higher ed. Part Two offers a range of practical responses, including ways we might break out of the tuition-discount "death spiral" and the facilities "arms race," as well as identifying our prospects for removing the albatross of onerous federal regulations from around our necks before it drags us under. If you have time to read only one book about today’s crisis in American higher education, Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education is the right choice. If you plan to research the topic in depth, Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education is the perfect place to start.

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About the author

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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.

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