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Holden Thorp, Buck Goldstein launch book about higher education in America

book launch.jpeg

Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein discuss their new book, Our Higher Calling, with Kevin Guskiewicz. From left to right: Kevin Guskiewicz (dean of College of Arts and Sciences at UNC), Holden Thorp (provost and professor at Washington University in St. Louis), Buck Goldstein (professor and Entrepreneur in Residence in Economics department at UNC). 

Washington University in St. Louis Provost Holden Thorp and UNC Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship founder Buck Goldstein launched their book "Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership between America and its Colleges and Universities" Monday evening.

Thorp served as UNC's chancellor from 2008 until 2013. Goldstein is an entrepreneur-in-residence and professor of the practice with the Shuford Program. 

Chancellor Carol Folt introduced the speakers. She said "Our Higher Calling" is special because most education books are written by people who are no longer involved with education themselves. 

“It’s written by two people who are still very much in the way of doing it," Folt said. "This is very much a book about right now and where we want to go tomorrow." 

Thorp and Goldstein also co-authored "Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century" in 2010 about entrepreneurship in universities.

“What’s different around this book, I think, is that it’s built around the idea that there is a partnership,” Goldstein said. “Our hope is to begin a conversation about this implied compact.”

The launch started as a panel discussion, then audience members submitted questions for the authors. 

“I’m in professor Goldstein’s 'Intro to Entrepreneurship' class, so it was really cool to see how big of a crowd came out to hear about this new book,” said sophomore Callie Barnard. 

Topics discussed included the worth of a four-year college degree and incorporating entrepreneurship into higher education. Goldstein and Thorp said that despite increasing costs, college degrees are worth earning. 

“Quality of life is just higher for folks who have college degrees,” Thorp said.

One attendee asked about the book’s emphasis on not just attending but graduating college. 

Thorp said the society we've built, "penalizes folks who don't have a degree" and said a college education can be useful to all people.  

“I’ve noticed the people who are asking ‘Does everyone need to go to college?’ I say, 'Well, where did your kids go to college?'” said Goldstein. “The people who question if college is worth it are questioning if it’s worth it for other people’s kids, but they know they’ll send their own kids to college.”

They called for improved university career services so students can choose majors they truly care about.

“We have a lot of students come to use and say ‘I’m a history major or I’m an English major, but my parents say 'What are you going to do with that,' so I’m minoring in entrepreneurship,” said Goldstein. “With better career services, students could study what they want to and still expect to get a job after college.”


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