Release Date

June 2024


From decreased funding to censorship controversies and rising student debt, the public perception of the value of higher education has become decidedly more negative. This crisis requires advocacy and action by policymakers, educators, and the public. Championing a Public Good presents a clear set of strategies and tools for advocates making the case for renewing our civic commitment to public higher education.

Taking a fresh look at one of the most controversial moments in the history of US higher education, the work of the Spellings Commission (2005–2008), Carolyn D. Commer argues that this body’s public criticisms of higher education and its recommendation to increase accountability and oversight—via market-based metrics—accelerated the erosion of the concept of higher education as a public good. Countering that requires a careful, forceful approach on the part of advocates. Commer draws from the public record to demonstrate a common set of arguments, metaphors, and rhetorical frames that can, in fact, flip the public debate over higher education to champion the public value of universities and colleges over their value as market commodities.

Championing a Public Good is a powerful primer on how to change the course of public higher education in the United States. It will appeal especially to faculty, administrators, and policymakers in higher education.