Blogs » Hudson On Higher Learning » Access to higher education

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There is nothing in the world to compare with the opportunity for individual empowerment and social mobility that the American system of higher education represents – and I say this after working and conducting research in more than 40 countries around the world. Everybody knows I love to travel. I caught the “bug” when I was 18 and was given “half” the cost of a tour of the Mediterranean and Holy Land if I would agree to be the pastor-leader’s “gopher.” (Come to think of it, was this “half” business a hint from the folks? I suppose that’s another story!)

Anyway, I’ll never forget my first steps in Cairo, the eerie calm and solace of the Sea of Galilee, or the hike up the foot-worn stone steps of the Parthenon in Athens. And I’ll also never forget the first time I laid eyes on a PLO refugee encampment. My reaction was, if I had to live in those conditions, there was no telling what I might do. Travel continues to be an important part of my ongoing effort to understand the world we inhabit together, and to paraphrase Mark Twain, I try to never let my schooling interfere with my education.

So, what does this have to do with UHV? Everything. Because among the many things I have learned, like tolerance for other perspectives and to appreciate the commonalities of the human experience, is that despite all of our challenges and shortcomings at times, America is the greatest country on earth – and remains the foremost “land of opportunity” ever devised.

And in today’s technology-mad, globally connected, knowledge-driven world, the key to that opportunity is education. As they say, you can never get too much of it, and they can never take it away. Here, ANYONE with the drive and motivation can access higher education and some of the greatest minds and ideas of all time. Right here in Victoria! Yes, the thing we have going for us is: access.

I’ve seen months-long lines of people from Colombia to Korea trying to get a slip of paper that would allow them to come to the U.S. to study, and I’ve seen heartbroken students in China and Japan wailing over the fact that they were denied access to a university education in their own countries FOREVER based on the results of a single exam at age 17 or 18.

Grounded in our democratic ideals, through technology and a change from the idea of the scholar as an isolated “thinker” to one of the scholar as the driver of innovation, social improvement and individual development, America has evolved a higher education system that, warts and all, is the envy of the world.

Like any vibrant university, UHV is in the midst of great change and development. I’ll be discussing all this in the weeks ahead.

Meantime, stop to think about this issue of “access.” HERE, opportunity is available for the asking. And let me hear your ideas about how we can make sure that our universities continue to play a fundamental role in ensuring that American higher education is available for ALL and continues to lead the world.