Richard Hersh, L.H.D.’99, former HWS President and co-author of “We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education,” recently appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” to talk about his new book.
Emphasizing the role of higher education in helping people think creatively, he notes that there is a crisis in higher education that needs to be addressed.
“Too often we ask students to go through college rather than put in the time and effort that allows them to be challenged and develop their highest capabilities, both intellectually as well as emotionally,” says Hersh. “We have lowered the standards we had 30 or 40 years ago.”
Hersh says that some colleges are sufficiently challenging and have students who take a variety of electives and dedicate themselves to the process of learning, but other institutions have students who work towards meeting the required number of credit hours and simply earn their diplomas.
An advocate of a classical liberal arts education, Hersh named Hobart and William Smith among colleges who are sufficiently challenging their students to reach their fullest potential.
“Colleges that are doing it right have cultures that are very challenging and ask students to engage in far more work, including reading, writing and integration of knowledge,” explains Hersh, noting that M.I.T. and University of Virginia are schools that are “doing it right.” “Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where I formerly served as president, is doing some exciting work.”
Hersh, a senior consultant with Keegan & Associates since 2006, served as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges from 1991 to 1999. He oversaw what was at the time the most successful fundraising program in the history of the Colleges. Under his leadership, the Colleges constructed Napier and Rosenberg Halls, the Winn-Seeley Gymnasium, and the L. Thomas Melly Academic Center.