Roundup of 2021 Higher Ed Books | Just Visiting – Inside Higher Ed

December 16, 2021 by No Comments

I get a lot of books every year. Some are sent to me with permission, some without. I buy more than I’m willing to admit or tell my wife about. 

I write about books every week at one of my other gigs, and occasionally here, and yet at the end of the year there’s always books I’ve read that I’ve been meaning to write about, but just haven’t gotten to.

A lot of this is because to craft a whole post around a single book is a lot of work. It requires an attention to the reading (and re-reading) that I often can’t spare to do a credible job.

But still, these books are worthy of the attention of others, so in the spirit, some capsule comments of some of the books I’ve read this year that I think are particularly relevant to those working in higher education.

(All links go to my bookstore where affiliate income on all purchases goes to support Open Books of Chicago, IL, a nonprofit dedicated to putting books in the hands of children.)


Broke: The Racial Consequences of Underfunding Public Universities by Laura T. Hamilton and Kelly Nielsen (University of Chicago Press)

Those who’ve read me will get why I gravitated to the thesis of this book. Essentially, as public money has been drained from public universities, the resulting institutional adjustments made in order to realize sufficient operating revenue have come at the expense of marginalized students. The institutions attended by Black and Hispanic students are hit harder by austerity, leaving them in schools without adequate infrastructure and support. Hamilton and Nielsen use two schools from the University of California system to prove their hypothesis, but it’s clear this dynamic is nationwide.


Beyond the Diversity Numbers: Achieving Racial Equity on Campus by W. Carson Boyd (Harvard Education Press)

Does it seem counterintuitive that prioritizing quantifiable measures of campus diversity may actually be one of the factors limiting increasing diversity? In this fascinating exploration, Boyd (faculty director of research initiatives for the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan) shows how focusing in surface-level metrics distracts from the far more substantive work institutions must do if they wish to improve on issues of racial equity.


The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal and How to Set Them Right by Adam Harris (Ecco)

This book is the origin story to the two books above it. Harris’s highly readable history …….



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