Jenna Robinson’s latest Martin Center column focuses on bridging a divide between the public and the American system of higher education.

The partnership between America and its colleges and universities is broken. Americans are disappointed with higher education. A majority of Americans (57 percent) now say higher education fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend, according to the Pew Research Center. Universities are equally disappointed with the students they serve. According to the same Pew survey, a majority of college presidents (58 percent) say public high school students arrive at college less prepared than their counterparts of a decade ago.

In a new book, Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein propose solutions to mend this divide and restore the compact between colleges and universities and the public that supports them. Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership between America and Its College & Universities seeks to renew what the authors call “a fundamental compact that has long been at the heart of the American Education System.” Thorp and Goldstein are both higher education veterans. Thorp is a provost and professor of chemistry and medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. Goldstein is a professor of the practice and university entrepreneur in residence in the department of economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Thorp once served as chancellor. …

… Critics of higher education should read the book in the spirit it was written, that of building bridges and beginning a conversation about the best way forward for higher education. It is an invitation to participate in an open, democratic, evolutionary process—despite our differences of opinion on how change should be accomplished and what it might look like.