The Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE) was established by a small group of philanthropists who have donated millions of dollars to U.S. colleges and universities and are concerned about higher education's continuing decline. Our purpose is to educate the public about the state of higher education in America and help donors promote excellence in higher education through philanthropy.
Though America's top colleges and universities are among the best in the world, the majority of America's nearly 2800 four-year colleges and universities are struggling to keep up. According to the 2012 US News world university rankings, 6 of the top 10 universities in the world are located in the United States, with Cambridge University ranked number one. After that, 15 out of top 25 are U.S. universities but only 31 out of top 100. With three out of every seven universities in the world here in America, beyond the very top schools, the United States is clearly underrepresented.
Various supporting data confirm higher education's problems. For example: A 2006 study by the American Research Institute, supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found that only 38 percent of all students at four-year colleges and universities were proficient in reading and understanding such things as newspaper editorials, just 40 percent were proficient in completing documents such as job applications, and only 35 percent were proficient in quantitative tasks such as balancing a checkbook or understanding the terms of a car loan described in a newspaper ad.
The source of this problem is not money. Annual expenditures on U.S. higher education are almost $450 billion and have risen by more than 30% in the past five years. Taxpayers provide a substantial portion of these funds. Alumni and other donors provide another substantial portion - more than $30 billion a year. The question many are asking is: Are we getting our money's worth?
The Center for Excellence in Higher Education believes the answer is "no." Through effective philanthropy, due diligence, proper governance, and management accountability, however, America's colleges and universities can be transformed into high-performing institutions that prepare today's students to be tomorrow's leaders.