AHA Roundtable on President Obama’s College Affordability Plan

Last week, President Obama offered a proposal to help make higher education more affordable, specifically addressing the increases in tuition costs and reliance on student loans. In town hall-style meetings in Buffalo, Syracuse, and Binghamton, New York, Obama argued that the problem of paying for college can be addressed through a combination of publishing performance measures, advancing innovation on campuses and competition between institutions, and providing more options for holders of student loans.

Jason Reed/Reuters

Jason Reed/Reuters

In this AHA Roundtable, we offer perspectives on this proposal from a number of prominent historians and faculty leaders at a variety of institutions. We also recommend reading the White House fact sheet on the proposal, the transcript from the president’s speech in Buffalo, and a summary of reactions to the proposal (including that of AHA executive director James Grossman) in Inside Higher Ed.

The Respondents:


Quality of Education: High Schools, MOOCs, and Mentors

—Elaine Carey, Vice President, Teaching Division, of the AHA


Real Value in Higher Education

—Kriste Lindenmeyer, Dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, Rutgers University—Camden


What Obama Should Have Said: An Alternate Text

—Terrence J. McDonald, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of history, and dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan


From Crisis to Crisis: Costs Only Part of the Problem

—Rusty Monhollon, Assistant commissioner for academic affairs at the Missouri Department of Higher Education


Doing Something—But What?

—Kenneth Pomeranz, President of the AHA


Can We Cut Our Way to Quality?

— Tyler Stovall, Professor of French history and the dean of the Undergraduate Division of the College of Letters & Science at the University of California, Berkeley


A Narrow Proposal at a Time of Crisis

—Charles Zappia, Dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Multicultural Studies and a professor of history at San Diego Mesa College

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