Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education

Thomas Jefferson once stated that the foremost goal of American education must be to nurture the “natural aristocracy of talent and virtue.” Although in many ways American higher education has fulfilled Jefferson’s vision by achieving a widespread level of excellence, it has not achieved the objective of equity implicit in Jefferson’s statement. In Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, William G. Bowen, Martin A. Kurzweil, and Eugene M. Tobin explore the cause for this divide. Employing historical research, examination of the most recent social science and public policy scholarship, international comparisons, and detailed empirical analysis of rich new data, the authors study the intersection between “excellence” and “equity” objectives.


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