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Grant number like: FEL-267719-20

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Ethan W. Ris
University of Nevada, Reno (Reno, NV 89557-0001)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2020 – 7/31/2020

The Origins of American Higher Education Reform, 1890-1936

Completion of a book on higher education reform movements in the United States during the Progressive Era.

A historical examination of the first iteration of sustained, systemic reform efforts directed at American colleges and universities, based on new archival research. The project identifies a cohort of reformers, the "academic engineers," who derived their power and prominence from the earliest permanently endowed philanthropic foundations. The academic engineers attempted to constrain the ambitions of both institutions and students, but fell short in the face of mounting bottom-up resistance. Still, they left a legacy that includes key infrastructural developments like the community college, as well as a logic of reform that lives on, focused on efficiency, accountability, and utility.