A Brief Look
Presented by: Lori Burns
The Colonial Period
The “Oxbridge” Model:
 Refers to the system of higher education put into
place by Oxford and Cambridge
 Both were English universities that developed a
formal system of endowed colleges that
combined living and learning within quadrangles
 The college was an isolated, “total” institution
whose responsibilities included guiding both the
social and academic dimensions of
undergraduate life
It was this modeled that influenced college
builders in the New World
The Colonial Period
Colonial Period Cont.
The American colonist built colleges because
they believed in and wished to transplant and
perfect the English idea of an undergraduate
education as a civilizing experience that
ensured a progression of responsible leaders
for both church and state.
Colonial colleges incorporated a tight
connection between the college board and its
host civil government, fostering both
responsible oversight and a source of
government funding from taxes, tolls, and
The Colonial Period
Early Colleges
 Founded in Massachusetts Bay colony in
The College of William and Mary
 Founded in Virginia in 1693
 Founded in Connecticut in 1701
The Colonial Period
Characteristics of Early College Life
A majority of institutions developed
denominational ties
 Religious concerns and sectarian competition
often fueled the creation of colonial colleges
 Most college presidents were men of the cloth
Tension between faculty and students
 In residential colleges complaints would range
to dissatisfaction with the dining commons to
dissatisfaction with the curriculum sparking riots
and revolts from the students
 In loco parentis – put the faculty in the position
of supervising student conduct as well as their
moral development
The Colonial Period
Characteristics of Early College Life
Enrollment and Completion
 Confined to White males, mostly from
established, prosperous families
 Attendance tended to ratify or confirm
existing social standing rather than provide
social mobility
 There was little emphasis on completing a
The Colonial Period
The National Period
Following American Independence in
1776 and extending into the midnineteenth century
 Time of the Civil War and the Morrill
Land Grant Act
 Saw the introduction of extracurricular
activities, a shift in socioeconomic status
of students, introduction of women and
African Americans into higher education
The National Period
The Civil War
In the South the Civil War lead to a
depletion of student and faculty and to
physical damage to the colleges
 Provided opportunities to initiate new
higher education programs
 Provided a political opportunity to push
through legislation that had been stalled
 Morrill Land Grant Act is an example of this
(Thelin, 2004)
The National Period
Morrill Land Grant Act
Passed in 1862
 Piece of federal legislation that lead to
better access to higher education
 Originally set up to establish institutions
in each state to educate people in
agriculture, home economics,
mechanical arts, and other practical
 Helped shift curriculum from classical to
more applied studies
The National Period
Extracurricular Activities
Included literary societies, debating
clubs, and service groups
 Considered to be the roots of the
extensive university library of today
 Analysis of extracurricular activities
shows that students exerted great
influence on the life of their college and
determined which activities and values
were emphasized
The National Period
Changing of the Student Body
A change in the socioeconomic make up of
students occurred
Students from a wide range of incomes
replaced the more homogeneous group,
referred to as a convergence of “paupers to
First-generation college students came from
farming families, many of which were older
than the usual 17-21 year olds
This also led to the formation of charitable
trusts and scholarship funds to help colleges
provide financial aid to this group of students
The National Period
Changing of the Student Population
Women became formal participants in higher
education by the mid-nineteenth century
“Female academies” and “female seminars”
were created
 These offered a range of courses and instructional
programs beyond elementary and secondary
 Curricula included home economics as well as
formal instruction in sciences, mathematics, foreign
languages, and compositions
By the 1860s and 1870s many female
seminaries became degree-granting colleges
The National Period
Changing of the Student Population
Between 1865 and 1910 provisions were
made for African Americans to pursue
higher education
 The Land Grant Act of 1890 provided
funding for Black colleges offering studies
in agriculture and mechanical arts
 Other funding for Black colleges came from
Northern philanthropic groups, Black churches,
and a mix of federal and state appropriations
The National Period
The National Period
Nearing the end of the nineteenth
century there were multiple college
models ranging from comprehensive
institutions with diverse student bodies
to special-purpose colleges serving
more distinct, specific groups of
The National Period
The Rise of the University
Between 1870 and 1910 America
witnessed a dramatic “university
movement” which involved the following
 Annexation of professional schools such as
medicine, law, business, theology,
pharmacy, and engineering
 Creation of extracurriculars including
athletics, fraternities, sororities, campus
newspapers, and other clubs
 Beginning of organized alumni associations
The National Period
Higher Education after World War I:
Enrollment rose during the Great
Depression due to lack of employment
 Beginning in the 1920s institutions enjoyed
the luxury of choice
 There began to be more applicants than spots
 This lead to the creation and refinement of the
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
Diversity was still an issue and
discrimination still existed for minority
The “Golden Age”:
Saw an academic revolution in which
colleges and universities acquired
unprecedented influence in American
 In 1947 Harry S. Truman authorized a
report to expand the access and
affordability to higher education
 There was also effective lobbying for the
expansion of government and foundation
sponsored research grants for university
The Golden Age
World War II
Following the declaration of war colleges
accelerated the progress of students in
 Military services established cooperative
on-campus programs for the training of
officers, pilots, and other specialized
personnel (Fincher, 2001)
The Golden Age
The GI Bill
The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act,
also known as the GI Bill, made federal
scholarships for postsecondary
education available for returning war
 It set a precedent for making portable
government student aid an entitlement
 Provided a policy tool for increasing
diversity of American universities
The Golden Age
The 1960s
Rise of the “Multiversity”
 Consisted of a flagship campus with
advanced degree programs
 Enrollment often exceeded twenty thousand
 Budget relied on “soft money” of research
and development projects funded by the
federal government and private foundations
The Golden Age
The 1960s
The Downside to Expansion
 Students began to complain of large lecture
classes, impersonal registration, crowded
student housing, and the psychological distance
between faculty and students caused by
booming campuses
 Student concern over external political and
social events (Vietnam, the draft, Civil Rights)
sparked the widespread of student activism
 By 1970 national media portrayed the American
campus as a battleground in a protracted
generational war between college students and
the established institutions associated with adult
The Golden Age
Era of Adjustment & Accountability:
Introduction to more financial aid
 Federal government introduced large scale
entitlements for student financial aid
○ Basic Educational Opportunity Grants
○ Supplementary Educational Opportunity
Grants (later known as Pell Grants)
Era of Adjustment
Era of Adjustment & Accountability:
Continual rise in diversity of students
 Traditional image of “Joe College” was being
replaced by:
○ Women
○ Native Americans
○ African Americans
○ Asian Americans
○ Hispanics
Era of Adjustment
Era of Adjustment & Accountability:
Uncertainties of campus futures
 Institutions were facing financial hardships in the
late 70s early 80s
 Enrollment declines were answered by the
recruitment of older students, women and
 By 1990 higher education saw more financial
hardships with state revenues coming up short
○ This prompted educational leaders and critics to
consider the need for a fundamental shift in
attitudes towards higher education and the
collegiate structure in the US.
Era of Adjustment
From the 20th to the 21st Century:
1990 - 2001
Between 1990 – 2000 most colleges
and universities were prosperous and
had high enrollments
 Colleges and student affairs officials still
had concerns about how to rethink the
college campus and college experience
to acknowledge the qualitative and
quantitative changes of the recent past
 Concerns about rising college cost still
20th - 21st Century
From the 20th to the 21st Century:
1990 - 2001
Student services accounted for a
substantial portion of the higher costs
 By 2000 the diversity of students helped
influence the shape and structure of the
 Women became a decisive majority of
student enrollments at both private and
public institutions
20th - 21st Century
From the 20th to the 21st Century:
1990 - 2001
With the rise in diversity of student there
was also a rise in campus leadership
 Tribal Colleges gained autonomy and
funding after deliberations with federal
and state governments
 Distance learning emerged due to
technological advances
20th - 21st Century
From the 20th to the 21st Century:
1990 - 2001
Student affairs leaders now faced how
to embrace changes in the national
culture while still providing a campus
experience that will be substantive and
20th - 21st Century
Fincher, C. (2001). Higher Education in World War II. IHE
Perspectives , 8.
Komives, M. F. (2007). Student Services: A Handbook for the
Profession. New York: Jossey-Bass.
Lightcap, B. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2008, from
Thelin, J. R. (2004). A History of American Higher Education.
JHU Press.

History of Higher Education