A new book, Becoming Great University: Small steps for sustained excellence (Princeton University Press), describes 10 "central challenges" facing each university and university. The authors insist that problems and their solutions are not based on a university having a lot of money to spend. The authors are Richard J. Light, Carl H. Pforzheimer's teaching and learning professor at Harvard University, and Allison Jegla, Michigan Higher Education strategist. They answered by email to questions about the book.

P: How did you join two to write this book? It seems a pretty unlikely pair.

A: It is true, at first glance, we could not be more different. Dick, a Harvard grandfather and professor, grew up in HardsCrabble Bronx, New York, and attended three immutable urban public schools. Allison, a recent postgraduate student, went to a small high school in the rural area of ​​Mid-Michigan. When we arrive at the University of Pennsylvania for the University, although separated in approximately 50 years, each one fights. We both finally discover it, thanks in part to Penn's strong commitment to the success of his students. That part of the shared history, despite the fact that our experiences were so separate, they gave us a lot to talk about when we were fortuitously matched as an academic advisor/student advisor graduated in Harvard. In our many conversations, particularly on the powerful impact that a great university can have on many aspects of students' life, we realized that we had a unique perspective to share. This book was really inspired by our love and optimism shared on higher education.

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q: dozens of books are written every year about higher education. What makes yours different?

A: There are several key things that we can highlight. First, our book is intentionally conversational and focuses more on real world examples than complex theoretical frameworks. We offer many processable examples that we hope that readers feel energized to implement the ideas we highlight, or to consider acting on their own.

Secondly, Dick has visited more than 250 university campuses worldwide during his career. He talks to students and advises administrators to each one, deepening in the specific challenges and triumphs of it. This has led to its continuous work to synthesize strengths, weak points and opportunities for improvement in the entire type of institution, size, composition of the student body, wealth and geography, all of which has been infused in the book.

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We also adopt an approach focused on discussing the importance of building a culture that fosters the sustained improvement of the campus. One of our first arguments is that there are hundreds of good universities, even very good, throughout the United States and the world. However, a much lower number is really exceptional in some way. Almost all who are exceptional focus on building a culture of innovation and improvement in the life of the campus. Our friendly challenge for readers is that everyone on campus, from a first -year student to teachers and personnel and many among university leadership, have a key role to play to improve undergraduate experience. We give many concrete, attainable and backed suggestions for evidence to begin. The "evidence -based" words are a driving topic for this book.

Finally, we are proud that our book has a strong underground current of positivity and optimism. We believe that there is much to get excited in the world of higher education. We hope that our book feels like a breath of fresh air in what is now a often critical field.

P: Do your book focus on

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Tide of Exits Without Degrees Still Rising

The number of students in the United States who attended university but left before receiving a credential, certificate or title has increased to 39

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