Higher Ground

Ethics and Leadership in the Modern University

Higher Ground

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: Published: April 2006

Author: Nannerl O. Keohane

Contributor: Fred Chappell

General Interest > Duke University, Pedagogy and Higher Education, Politics > Political Science

Nannerl O. Keohane is one of the most widely respected leaders in higher education. A political theorist who served as President of Wellesley College and Duke University, she has firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing modern universities: rising costs, the temptations of “corporatization,” consumerist students, nomadic faculty members, and a bewildering wave of new technologies. Her views on these issues and on the role and future of higher education are captured in Higher Ground, a collection of speeches and essays that she wrote over a twenty-year period.

Keohane regards colleges and universities as intergenerational partnerships in learning and discovery, whose compelling purposes include not only teaching and research but also service to society. Their mission is to equip students with a moral education, not simply preparation for a career or professional school.

But the modern era has presented universities and their leadership with unprecedented new challenges. Keohane worries about access to education in a world of rising costs and increasing economic inequality, and about threats to academic freedom and expressions of opinion on campus. She considers diversity as a key educational tool in our increasingly pluralistic campuses, ponders the impact of information technologies on the university’s core mission, and explores the challenges facing universities as they become more “global” institutions, serving far-flung constituencies while at the same time contributing to the cities and towns that are their institutional homes.

Reflecting on the role of contemporary university leaders, Keohane asserts that while they have many problems to grapple with, they will find creative ways of dealing with them, just as their predecessors have done.


“[Higher Ground] will remind higher ed leaders about the importance of mission and decision-making.” — Jean Marie Angelo, University Business

“[T]his is an enjoyable book that provides insight into important issues facing higher education and the thought processes of one of the country's prominent higher education leaders.” — Patricia M. O'Brien, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

“In this book, a selection of speeches and articles crafted during her presidency, Keohane is plainly optimistic about the future of higher education.” — Jerrold K. Footlick, Duke Magazine

“Keohane is a solid ethical theorist with a gift for explanation and her book, though centered on and specific to education, has broader application than that.” — Blue Ridge Business Journal

“Keohane’s is a thoughtful, passionate and forthright voice with much to say that will be of interest to those in a leadership role, or with a scholarly interest in higher education governance. She raises questions that are complex, and sometimes discomforting, for the sector’s leaders. They are, however, fundamental, and the reflections on ethical leadership of this well-respected theorist and practitioner make a distinctive and important contribution to the field.” — Charlotte Woods, Educational Review

“Keohane’s readable wide-ranging collection of articles and speeches will appeal to scholars of higher education, especially those who seek insight into the challenges faced by higher education in general and the thought processes of institutional administrators who aspire to be reflective leaders in particular.” — Nancy Taylor and John Thelin, History of Education Quarterly

“Nannerl Keohane shows great mastery in prose, understanding of the complexities of governance, and sensitivity to the conflicts within higher education. Higher Ground provides elegant ammunition to those who believe in access, the value of the campus experience, and inspiring ethical development in students.” — Erica Eckert, Journal of Higher Education

“This collection of essays provides useful insights on a range of themes relevant to contemporary American higher education. . . . [A] particularly literate and useful example of its genre. Keohane writes with conviction as she supports the traditional values of higher education at a time when many have forgotten that the university is about teaching and learning, and the centrality of research and dialogue. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” — P. G. Altbach, Choice

“We’re not there yet but we’re on the road. Nannerl Keohane has been a powerful model and influence in moving women forward on the journey.” — Women in Higher Education

“What is most compelling about Higher Ground is Keohanes' ability to speak with candor about the challenges faced by today’s university leaders. . . . Higher Ground presents a fresh perspective on some of the most contemporary issues faced by university leaders. Its pages are filled with real examples of ethical, philosophical, and moral dilemmas encountered by Keohane while a scholar and administrator. Keohane does a good job of describing these dilemmas from both a historical and personal perspective, while explicating her own convictions used to discover resolutions of these dilemmas. This book holds value for anyone working in higher education, particularly those seeking meaning and purpose for their work.” — Ashley Tull, Journal of College and Character

"An astute academician and a brilliant thinker, [Keohane's] observations are thoughtful as well as pragmatic." — Susan Farrington, Sanford Herald

"Despite a long career in higher education, Keohane retains the enthusiasm of a first-year student when talking about the excitement of life on college campuses. . . . Keohane's approach is a refreshing blend of vision and practicality. . . . Cleary written and peppered with personal anecdotes that make for accessible reading." — Library Journal

With this book, Nannerl Keohane has shown why her name is synonymous with all that is ethical and reflective in the college presidency. . . . Higher Ground could serve as a primer for those who are considering a leadership position in a modern university and as a reflective piece for current leaders. . . . It was a wise choice for the Duke University Press to preserve the words and wisdom of Nannerl Keohane in a book. In my reading of literature on the college presidency, rarely have I experienced such a philosophical, reflective, and direct presentation of the ethical and moral obligations inherent in higher education leadership.” — V. Barbara Bush, Review of Higher Education

Higher Ground is the work of a distinguished university president who has something to say. The totality of Nannerl O. Keohane’s work represented here says much that is really important about the state of the modern American university and the values it ought to represent.” — Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus, Stanford University

“In addition to being one of the most successful university presidents of the 1990s and early 2000s, Nannerl O. Keohane was one of the most thoughtful, and it’s excellent to have her thoughts preserved in this book. Her special virtues are all here: her grace of manner, her unfailing clarity of mind, her forthrightness and honesty, and her abiding sense of the ethical dimensions of the university’s project.” — Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University

“The special value of Higher Ground resides in Nannerl O. Keohane’s stature as one of the nation’s most respected university presidents, and in the unique combination of experiences that undergird her perspectives—those of a political philosopher who has served as president of two very different yet excellent institutions, Wellesley College and Duke University. Ringing throughout this volume is a deep commitment to the fundamental values of the academy. Keohane wrestles with the meaning and application of ancient goals to today’s fast-paced and complex university world.” — Charles M. Vest, President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Availability: In stock
Price: $37.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Nannerl O. Keohane was President of Duke University from 1993 to 2004 and of Wellesley College from 1981 to 1993; she was Professor of Political Science at both institutions. She has taught at Stanford University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to numerous honorary degrees, her honors include the 2003 Marshall Medal. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and a member of the Harvard Corporation. Keohane is currently Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Part I. Articles and Speeches

Collaboration and Leadership: Are They in Conflict? 37

The University in the Twenty-first Century 52

The Mission of the Research University 59

Pro Bono Publico: Institutional Leadership and the Public Good 84

Moral Education in the Modern University 98

More Power to the President? 112

The American Campus: From Colonial Seminary to Global Multidiversity 120

ACE Address: The Atwell Lecture 140

The Liberal Arts and the Role of Élite Higher Education 157

"You Say You Want a Revolution?" Well . . . 178

When Should a College President Use the Bully Pulpit? 187

Are We There Yet? 192

Part II. Duke University Addresses

Opening Convocation Address 209

Inaugural Address 218

The University of the Future 229

Address to the Faculty 241

Threats to Academic Freedom 250

Founders' Day Address 253

Notes 263

Index 277
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3786-7
Publicity material