The Future of Higher Education: Creating Opportunity, Assessing Value

Friday, April 7, 2017
9:30am to 5:30pm
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall
UC Berkeley
Registration Link:

In the post-World War II era, higher education was expanded to meet the increasing demand for expertise in a changing American economy. American universities not only expanded to meet this need, but in the process provided a pathway to social mobility for millions of citizens.  Through government investment, public colleges and universities assumed the largest responsibility in making higher education accessible and affordable to state residents. Over the past two decades, despite increases in student demand for public higher education and steady demand from employers for higher-skilled workers, state funding has declined, forcing public universities to respond with tuition hikes and new funding mechanisms. 

This one-day conference will examine the implications of these developments for the future of American universities, students and society.  What role should universities play in meeting society’s need for expertise and the individual’s need for socioeconomic security in the 21st century?  What value does a higher education degree hold for the individual and for society? Should states increase funding for public universities to accommodate the increasing student demand?  If not states, who will – and who should – bear the costs of public higher education, and how can a return on this investment be measured and demonstrated to students, policy makers, and taxpayers? 

9:30-9:45am - Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:45-10:15am - Keynote Address

Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Public Policy, UC Berkeley, Co-Chair of The Lincoln Project

10:15-11:45am - Keynote Roundtable: Responses to Disinvestment in Public Higher Education: What is to be done?

Roundtable participants will address the causes and consequences of state disinvestment in public higher education, new funding models developed in response to this trend, and the impacts of new funding models on access and quality.

Chair: Robert Birgeneau


  • Henry Brady, Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, UC Berkeley
  • Carol Christ, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley
  • Ronald Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University
  • Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University

11:45am-1:15pm - Lunch Break

1:15-2:45pm - Panel 1: Investing in Higher Education: Research Universities, Innovation and Economic Impact

This panel will explore value of higher education to the state and to society. How can a return on this investment be measured and demonstrated to students, taxpayers, and policy makers? What are the social and economic benefits generated by research universities and are there any social costs?

Chair: John Zysman, Director, Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy


  • Martin Kenney, Professor of Community and Regional Development, UC Davis
  • Sean Randolph, Senior Director, Bay Area Council Economic Institute
  • Edward Penhoet, Associate Dean of Biology, UC Berkeley
  • Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor, UC San Diego

2:45-3:00pm - Coffee Break

3:00-4:40pm - Panel 2: Assessing Value: The Worth of a Higher Education for Individuals

This panel will examine the value of a higher education for the individual. Do students get what they pay for? Does a higher education degree lead to good jobs? How do different college pathways and new forms of teaching and learning impact students’ experiences and outcomes? How should the value of a higher education to the individual be measured? 

Chair: John Douglass, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley


  • Mike Hout, Professor of Sociology, New York University
  • James Rosenbaum, Professor of Education and Social Policy, and of Sociology, Northwestern University
  • Laura Hamilton, Associate Professor of Sociology, UC Merced
  • Mitchell Stevens, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
  • Sandy Baum, Policy Fellow at the Urban Institute, Professor Emerita of Economics, Skidmore College

4:40-4:45pm - Closing Remarks

4:45-5:30pm - Hosted Reception

Sponsored by UC Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Societal Issues and the Institute of Governmental Studies

Co-sponsored by UC Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher EducationGraduate School of Education and the Cal Alumni Association