WMU News

Criticisms and strengths of higher education

Sept. 21, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- On issues ranging from tuition to teaching loads to tenure, America's higher education system has its share of vocal critics. But one of its most vigorous defenders, Dr. James Axtell, will be at Western Michigan University Wednesday, Oct. 3, to talk about what's right with the nation's colleges and universities.

Axtell, the author of the 1998 book "The Pleasures of Academe: A Celebration and Defense of Higher Education," will speak about "What's Wrong -- and Right -- with American Higher Education" at 7 p.m., in the Kirsch Auditorium at the Fetzer Center. A reception and book signing in the Fetzer Center lobby will follow the presentation. Axtell's presentation is the 2001 Hamner Lecture sponsored by the WMU Department of History and is free and open to the public.

In his address, Axtell, an award-winning scholar and ethnohistorian, will draw upon national statistics, scholarship and anecdotes to confront the major criticisms of higher education and to celebrate the value of the nation's colleges and universities.

The Kenan Professor of Humanities at The College of William and Mary, Axtell has written 11 books and more than 50 articles on education in America and the ethnohistory of early America. Among his books are "The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America" and "Natives and Newcomers: The Cultural Origins of North America." He is currently working on a history of Princeton University in the 20th century.

While on campus, Axtell also will meet with WMU faculty and graduate students for an informal presentation titled "Whither Ethnohistory? A Conversation with James Axtell" at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct.4, in Room 3301 of Friedman Hall.

The Hamner Lecture was established by the WMU Department of History in 1999 through an endowed gift by H. Nicholas Hamner, a WMU professor emeritus of history. The first Hamner Lecture was held in November 2000 and featured James W. Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong."

For more information about Axtell's appearance, contact Dr. Jose Brandao, WMU assistant professor of history, at (616) 387-4645 or <jose.brandao@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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