AAU president to discuss research universities as part of 21st Century vision conversation

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 in Campus and Community

Hunter Rawlings, president of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), will share his views about research universities Sept. 27 as part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s yearlong conversation about the future of U.S. public higher education.

Note: Chancellor Thorp invited Rawlings to give this lecture earlier this summer. That is separate from another future campus-wide conversation Rawlings will help lead regarding the proper relationship between academics and athletics.

Hunter Rawlings, president of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), will share his views about research universities Sept. 27 as part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s yearlong conversation about the future of U.S. public higher education.

Rawlings will give a free, public lecture at noon in Gerrard Hall. The campus community is invited to attend.

Rawlings became president of the AAU in 2011. Prior to this position, Rawlings served as president of Cornell University from 1995 to 2003, and as interim president for one year between 2005 and 2006. He was president of the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1995.

As AAU president, Rawlings directs an organization of 61 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1900, AAU focuses on issues that are important to research-intensive universities, such as funding for research, research policy issues and graduate and undergraduate education. The 59 U.S. members award more than half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in the sciences and engineering. AAU membership is by invitation; UNC-Chapel Hill joined in 1922.

In recent national opinion-editorial columns, Rawlings has articulated the need for the nation’s research universities to improve undergraduate education as public campuses receive less state support and more students struggle to keep up with mounting college debt and fewer job opportunities after graduating.

Those themes overlap with the launch of a campus-wide conversation this fall focusing on a 21st Century Vision of the Public University, an initiative undertaken by Chancellor Holden Thorp and the Board of Trustees. The resulting report, due next May, will help shape the University’s future and provide a foundation for the next fundraising campaign.

Thorp invited Rawlings to give the campus lecture and meet with the trustees.

“As the nation’s first public university, it’s fitting that we look at important issues facing our peers:  college access and completion, undergraduate education and how faculty research can help solve the world’s most pressing problems,” Thorp said. “Hunter Rawlings is one of American higher education’s most articulate spokespersons. His insights will be invaluable in helping guide our conversations about Carolina’s future aspirations.”

Rawlings has served as chair of both the Association of American Universities and the Ivy Council of Presidents. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he serves on the boards of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Haverford College and the National Academy Foundation.

Before becoming AAU president, he led Cornell from 1995 to 2003 and was interim president for one year between 2005 and 2006. During his tenure, Cornell made its need-blind admissions policy permanent and focused on undergraduate teaching. He established the new position of vice provost for undergraduate education and the Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Program, now named in his honor. He envisioned and launched the Residential Initiative, a new approach to residential life for undergraduates that developed North Campus as an all-freshman campus, and West Campus as a collection of residential colleges for sophomores and juniors.

While president at the University of Iowa, Rawlings chaired the Governor’s Commission on Foreign Language Studies and International Education. He also oversaw major research enhancements, particularly in the life sciences and the College of Medicine.

Rawlings spent 18 years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was a faculty member, chairman of the classics department, associate vice chancellor for instruction, and then vice president for academic affairs for the University of Colorado system.  His scholarly publications include a book, “The Structure of Thucydides’ History.” His wife, Elizabeth, is a professional translator and earned a master’s degree in French from UNC-Chapel Hill.

To download a photo of Rawlings, go to http://bit.ly/PAZeHc

Related links:

http://www.aau.edu/about/article.aspx?id=9064 (Rawlings biographical information)

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/03/30/essay-research-universities-must-pay-more-attention-student-learning (Rawlings op-ed column in Inside Higher Education)

Contact:  Mike McFarland, (919) 962-8593, mike_mcfarland@unc.edu

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