Welcome and Academic Mission to the Future Panel

Welcome and Introductions - Joy Crawford, President CUBA

PANEL: What is the role of the university in society? This existential question is timely, given the high level of disruption in the sector. The disruption has certainly been exacerbated by the lengthy COVID-19 pandemic, but there are several forces intersecting in our conversations about the future of universities, including the desire to protect institutional autonomy, the rise of populism, stakeholder demands related to sustainability, innovation, diversity and inclusion, global societal threats, among others. Visionary leaders are not in short supply in our sector, but they face headwinds, including internal skepticism, flat revenues, and public disdain.

Our panel will dig into big questions by sharing different perspectives on the role of universities. They will discuss universities as change agents, the need to respond to societal trends in employment, green economic growth, and government priorities, and the need for institutional resiliency in light of lessons learned from two years of pandemic restrictions. They will explore competing narratives about whether we exist to generate and protect the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake or whether we must be accountable for other, more tangible outcomes.