Boyer II: Twenty-First Century Undergraduate Education Excellence at U.S. Research Universities

On November 14, 2020, U.S. higher education leaders will convene at the Reinvention Collaborative Biennial National Conference in Arlington, Virginia, in part, to endorse Boyer II, a statement of core principles that should inform standards for undergraduate education at U.S. research universities. Boyer II assumes a continuing reliance on and commitment to Boyer’s Academic Bills of Rights and Ten Ways to Change Undergraduate Education, but to achieve Boyer’s vision today, we must emphasize these tenets:

·         Access. Enrollment management must offer fair selection and viable pathways to completion.

·         Teaching. Instruction must be founded on evidence-based, inclusive pedagogies. No exceptions.

·         Learning. Required curricula must be enriched by plentiful opportunities for in-depth learning.

·         Advising. Academic guidance must contribute to the education of the whole student.

·         Success. Timely degree completion must empower self-directed lifelong learners and leaders.

Correspondingly, Carnegie Classification Highest and Higher Research Activity U.S. universities must:

·         eliminate unjust barriers, such that can result from misuse of standardized testing in admissions and scholarship allocation, and insist upon diverse, inclusive, and just learning environments.

·         require that all instruction is grounded in the scholarship of teaching & learning, including instruction provided by faculty of all types and at all ranks, as well as by teaching assistants.

·         adopt, scale, and render accessible high-impact learning experiences so that undergraduate students benefit from two or more of these enrichments as part of their integrated learning.

·         strengthen academic guidance through intentional support for those who educate students, including student life professionals, advisors and faculty advisors, coaches and mentors.

·         evaluate themselves, not by the renown of research faculty alone, but by the number and diversity of baccalaureate alumni, including their ability to contribute broadly to society.

As twenty-first century challenges mount in severity and multiply globally, U.S. research universities shoulder disproportionate responsibility for solving the urgent problems of today while educating the problem-solvers of tomorrow. Research universities must also re-double investment in liberal education, to nurture a reflective and skilled citizenry via distinctive alumni who are empowered individually, who are socially mobile and globally conscious, and who are prepared for leadership in democratic society.

Due to their resources and the scale and diversity of their manifold educational efforts, U.S. research universities may be uniquely situated to address the full range of twenty-first century needs. Yet, any institution of higher learning may benefit from consideration and implementation of Boyer II principles.

Thus, The Reinvention Collaborative, a national research university consortium founded in 2000 and inspired by the 1998 Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, and the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, a national postsecondary education non-profit founded in 1999 by John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot with a focus on improving teaching, learning, student success, and advancing broader social justice aims, serve as initial conveners.