Summary of Findings
Part I: Areas of Consensus
Part II: Areas of Disagreement
Supporting Tables
About the Author
About the National Center
About Public Agenda

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Taking Responsibility
Page 8 of 12


This study reports the views of 601 leaders in academia, government and business who responded to a mail survey conducted in the fall of 1998. Public Agenda mailed an invitation to participate along with the questionnaire to a sample of 3,930 individuals selected as follows:

  • College professors: 750 professors from both public and private colleges and from two- and four-year institutions, randomly selected from a list provided by Market Data Retrieval.

  • College administrators and deans: 750 from both public and private colleges and from two- and four-year institutions, randomly selected from a list provided by Market Data Retrieval.

  • Business: 1,430 CEOs, owners, presidents, or general managers of companies with 50 or more employees, randomly selected from a list provided by Dunn and Bradstreet.

  • Government: 1,000 legislators and advisors at both the state and federal level, including education advisors to governors and representatives from the state governing boards of both community colleges and four-year institutions. Names were taken from Leadership Directory's Congressional Yellow Book Summer 1997, The Capitol Source, the National Governors' Association's Governors' Staff Directory, March 1998, and lists provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO).

The initial mailing of the questionnaire was on September 16, 1998, followed shortly by a postcard reminder and a second mailing of the questionnaire. All data in this report are based on questionnaires returned by October 16, 1998. The mailings resulted in a total of 601 returned questionnaires, as follows:

  • College professors: 130

  • College administrators and deans: 163

  • Business: 146

  • Government: 162

"Total" percentages represent the average calculated after weighting each group to 150 respondents, so that each group of leaders has an equal impact on the reported total.
The questionnaire stressed that, unless otherwise indicated, we were concerned with both two-year and four-year institutions of higher education, as well as both state and private higher education. Design of the survey instrument and all interpretation of the data in the report were done by Public Agenda.

In preparation for the study, the author conducted a series of interviews with a leadership panel of 14 experts in the field, representing a variety of different perspectives on higher education (listed below). In addition, focus groups were moderated by the author at two conferences, one with college faculty (June 14, 1998, in Cincinnati) and another with legislators and legislative staff (July 22, 1998, in Las Vegas). Quotes were drawn from the leadership panel and focus groups to give voice to the attitudes captured statistically through the survey. These were supplemented by interviews conducted by telephone with respondents who agreed to be contacted after the survey.

Leadership Panel
Dr. John Brademas
President Emeritus
New York University
Dr. Doug D. Christensen
Commissioner of Education
State of Nebraska
Charles E. Cobb Jr.
Cobb Partners, Inc.
John W. Creighton
Senior Advisor
Weyerhaeuser Company
Dr. Karen Cummings
Clinical Assistant Professor in Physics
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Alfredo G. de los Santos, Jr.
Vice Chancellor for Student and Educational Development
Maricopa Community Colleges
Governor Daniel J. Evans
Board of Regents
University of Washington
Kati Haycock
Education Trust
Dr. Daniel J. Larson
Dean of the Everly College of Science
Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Edward A. Lynch
Associate Professor of Political Science
Hollins University
Scott Miller
Director of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement
The College Board
Dr. Wentworth Ofuatey-Kodjoe
Executive Officer, Political Science Department
Graduate School and University Center at CUNY
Dr. Anne A. Paolucci
Chairwoman of Board of Trustees
City University of New York
Adam Yarmolinsky
Regents Professor of Public Policy
University of Maryland



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