By Richard Vedder
I don't write much about us --our little but growing research center. But I feel compelled to write about four transitional developments.
1) HALF CENTURY OVER. I am just completing a 50 year involvement in higher education. I entered college in 1958. Things have changed a lot since then. I think, however, the overall average quality of the learning experience has NOT improved, perhaps in part an inevitable consequence of reaching further down the gene and motivational pool of talent as colleges expand -- both faculty and student talent. When I entered an elite private university (Northwestern) in 1958, the tuition was $795 ---a year. The NU tuition has more than tripled in real terms since --typical of other schools. Kids attend classes in nicer classrooms, sleep in fancier quarters, and have nicer rec facilities today, but the learning experience has not improved at many campuses with the reduction in standards arising from grade inflation and other factors. I fear we have expanded quantitatively but not qualitatively, although an exception may be with respect to scientific research efforts at university.
2) BRYAN MOVES ON. CCAP would not be a viable organization today without the quiet, behind the scenes efforts of Bryan O'Keefe, my Associate Director and dear friend. Bryan is going on to law school at Dickinson this fall, and Pennsylvania's gain is CCAP's lost. We will miss him a lot.
3) ANDY FINISHES HIS FORMAL EDUCATION. Andrew Gillen becomes my new number one sidekick as Bryan transitions out. Andy is quiet, reserved, but very bright --and growing on the job every day, becoming more assertive and impressive by the hour. He is helping me write a book on universities and human welfare that will be the sequel to GOING BROKE BY DEGREE, and increasingly I lean on him for advice and counsel. In August, Andy should pass his final examination for the Ph.D. degree in economics. That will be an occasion for great celebration.
4) MATT TURNS 21. Why do I keep teaching despite being past the regular retirement age? Because of guys like Matt Denhart, Whiz Kid in Chief. Matt is 21 today, and I have never had a student (and I have had over 10,000 in my career) I liked more than Matt --he is bright, hard working, dependable, good humored, and gives good advice. He acts like an experienced adult. Mark my words, he will be a huge success some day in whatever he does. I hear rumors that he drank too much celebrating his birthday, but that is part of the college life transition to adulthood as well --learning from experiences both social and academic.
I have the best team of persons I have ever worked with helping me, and all of them are 27 years old or less. It makes me young again, keeps me going, and propels CCAP to ever greater efforts to be part of the solution, not the problem, in higher education.