How Colleges and Universities Transformed America

Commencement day, senior parade, University of Michigan

In their address to Howard University's graduating class of 1898, Kelley Miller said: "You have now come to the end of your scholastic labors. To you, years of hopes, ambitions, aspirations and strivings are epitomized in the proceedings of this hour". 

As the newly minted graduates left their colleges and universities, they embarked upon a brave new world. They went to school to learn the latest information, to contribute to the growing assemblage of knowledge, to become developed and qualified professionals, to express new definitions of freedom, and to discover themselves. The growth of these schools were fueled by these same pursuits and thus led to the proliferation of greater knowledge and greater qualifications. The growth of the American college and university system coincided with the establishment of a middle class and “white collar” jobs which offered high pay and clean working environments for those who qualified. It also coincided with the expansion of freedoms for women and African Americans, who took higher education as an opportunity to continue to push the social boundaries of what womanhood and Blackness could mean. These expeditions were not always smooth; many times these efforts were met with both external and internal tensions. Nonetheless, they moved the country forward.

How Colleges and Universities Transformed America