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Americans Are Experiencing a Crisis of Faith Toward Higher Education Leaders, New Survey Reveals

Americans are experiencing a crisis of faith toward higher education leaders and do not fully trust them to prioritize their students, a new survey from U.S. News & World Report and The Harris Poll shows.

The results were revealed December 12 at an exclusive event, “The Evolution of Leadership: Education”. U.S. News – the global authority in education rankings and consumer advice – convened more than 125 education thought leaders, college presidents and government officials in New York for a discussion on crucial topics shaping the future of higher education.

Wendy Salomon, managing director of corporate strategy & reputation at The Harris Poll, presented the survey’s results. Among the key findings:

  • Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe that university leaders are failing students today, while 53% of current Gen Z and Millennials believe the same thing.
  • Only 43% of Americans and 45% of Gen Z and Millennials believe that universities are succeeding in developing leaders of tomorrow.
  • Fifty-six percent of Americans think that university leaders are not good examples of leaders for their students.
  • Only 45% of Americans trust university leaders to do the right thing for their students. However, 57% of Gen Z and Millenials trust university leaders to do the right thing for their students.
  • As for Americans’ trust in their university leaders to prioritize their students:
    • 59% of Americans trust public university leaders 
    • 55% of Americans trust private university leaders
    • 51% of Americans trust ivy university leaders

“We know that important work has had to be undertaken in an increasingly difficult environment in this country where we are seeing declining levels of trust in our academic institutions, as well as decreasing enrollment numbers today where high school students are increasingly electing not to go to college,” Eric Gertler, U.S. News executive chairman and CEO, told attendees. “These last two months have made one’s role as president of a university infinitely more difficult. Leadership has never been easy – especially in times of crisis. But that is what we expect and demand from those in these positions of leadership.”

“Today we aim to share those learnings of leadership with a group of some of the most respected thinkers and leaders in academia – and for that we are truly privileged to be having those conversations,” Gertler added.

The two-hour forum also featured sessions on higher education policy, leading outside of the box, and the evolution of leadership in education. Additional speakers included James Kvaal, under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; John B. King Jr., chancellor, The State University of New York, and 10th U.S. secretary of Education; Mildred Garcia, chancellor, California State University; Jonathan Koppell, president, Montclair State University; and Ari Berman, president, Yeshiva University.

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll, December 8-10, 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 2,031 U.S. adults.

U.S. News has published related content, including additional survey findings on the evolution of leadership. Articles examine the formula for a perfect leader, leadership in the midst of an identity crisis, the state of society’s leaders and Americans’ loss of faith in university leaders.

Source : USNews