The Future of the University

November 18, 2021

In November of 2021, Jewish Currents hosted the third event of a new series devoted to the future of key concepts in society today: The Futures Forum. This third exciting conversation discussed the future of the university. How has the pandemic altered higher education, and which of these changes are likely permanent? What should the public understand about some universities’ attempts to mitigate or eliminate the rights associated with tenure? And how are grad and adjunct unions changing the face of academia today?

Curated by David Myers, this conversation featured Professor Davarian Baldwin, a leading urbanist, historian, and cultural critic; Dr. Eddie Cole, associate professor of higher education and organizational change at UCLA; historian Caroline Luce, researcher for the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment; and Dr. Maud Mandel, president of Williams College.

Davarian L. Baldwin is a leading urbanist, historian, and cultural critic. He currently serves as the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Smart Cities Lab at Trinity College (CT). Baldwin is the author of several books, most recently In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities (Bold Type Books). He serves as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and on the executive committee of Scholars for Social Justice. His opinions and commentaries have been featured in numerous outlets from NBC News, PBS, and The History Channel to USAToday, the Washington Post and TIME.

Eddie R. Cole, Ph.D., is associate professor of higher education and organizational change at UCLA, and the author of The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom (Princeton University Press, 2020).

Dr. Cole’s research focuses on college presidents’ historic role in shaping racial policies and practices both inside and outside of the educational sphere. Dr. Cole’s scholarship and public writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chronicle of Higher Education. He has also appeared on BBC World News and C-Span BookTV.

Dr. Cole has also received research fellowships and grants from Princeton University and the University of Chicago, and has been a Dean’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also a senior fellow for the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.

Caroline Luce is a historian whose work sits at the intersection of labor history, Jewish studies, and digital humanities. Currently a researcher for the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, she previously served as Chief Curator of Mapping Jewish LA, a project of the UCLA Leve Center for Jewish Studies. She is also an organizer and chair of the Communications Committee of UC-AFT, the union that represents 6000+ non-tenured teaching faculty at the University of California. Her research explores immigration, labor, and working-class culture in the American West, and she is currently writing a book titled Yiddish in the Land of Sunshine: Jewish Radicalism, Labor and Culture in Los Angeles.

Maud S. Mandel, Williams’ 18th president, earned her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1989 and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 1993 and 1998, respectively. President Mandel has engaged the Williams community in articulating a vision for the college’s future through a strategic planning effort involving faculty, staff, students, alumni, families and friends. She has advanced educational work at Williams, from major grants to important conversations about the role of technology and the creative arts in a liberal arts education. In addition, she has encouraged a culture of shared, community-wide responsibility for diversity, equity and inclusion work and continued Williams’ investment in the sustainability of its built environment. President Mandel is also an accomplished historian, whose scholarship looks at how policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in 20th-century France have affected Jews, Armenians and Muslim North Africans, among other minorities. In addition to her presidential duties, President Mandel holds the title of Professor of History and teaches as her schedule allows.

David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, where he serves as the director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books in the field of Jewish history, including the forthcoming American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York (Princeton) with Nomi Stolzenberg. Myers also serves as President of the New Israel Fund.