Clark Kerr Lectures- Finance and Sustainability in Higher Education

Clark Kerr lecturing at Greek TheaterThe lecture series was established in 2001 under the auspices of the Center for Studies in Higher Education on the Berkeley campus. Initial funding for the lectures was provided by the University of California's Office of the President, and subsequently major complementary funding has been received from the Carnegie Corporation. The Center for Studies in Higher Education has established an agreement with the University of California Press for publication of the second and future lectures.

 The Clark Kerr Lectures series honors Clark Kerr, president of the University of California from 1958 to 1967 and long recognized as one of the great leaders of American higher education in the twentieth century.  Kerr headed the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and then the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education from 1967 until 1979. He came to UC Berkeley in 1945 as an associate professor of industrial relations and was chancellor at Berkeley from 1952 until 1958.

The Lectures provide a forum for analysis and reflection about the forces shaping universities and the complex roles they play in modern society.  Recipients of the honor are selected once every two years and are sponsored by Center for Studies in Higher Education.  Lectures are given at one or more of the university's ten campuses.  Previous holders of the lectureship include Simon Marginson, Neil Smelser, Harold Shapiro, Charles Vest, Donald Kennedy, and Hannah Gray.  

 In 2017, we have taken a minor departure from our tradition of inviting one speaker every two years. Instead, we are inviting three prominent scholars each to give one lecture on the critical topic of Finance and Sustainability in Higher Education.

State funding for education has declined in the past two decades, compelling public universities to respond with tuition increases and innovative funding models. Transitioning to financial sustainability requires a reevaluation of expectations rooted in institutional transformation. This multi- day lecture series will examine the future of financial sustainability and propose lasting solutions for an improved higher education system. These lectures will generate discussion and analysis around a number of strategic questions. Topics to include: building toward the future of college opportunity, the political economy of cost control on a university campus, and reigning in rising costs, while offering a quality education.

Event is FREE & Open to the Public. Registration is required

LECTURE 1: We Have Two Hands: Coping with the Present While Building Toward the Future of College Opportunity   Register

Michael S. McPhersonPresident, Spencer Foundation         

Thursday, April 13th, 4pm to 5:30pm,Reception to follow

Banatao Auditorium at Sutardja Dai Hall

 Michael S. McPherson 

Michael S. McPherson is the fifth President of the Spencer Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2003 he served as President of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota for seven years.  A nationally known economist whose expertise focuses on the interplay between education and economics, McPherson spent the 22 years prior to his Macalester presidency as professor of economics, chairman of the Economics Department, and dean of faculty at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  He holds a B.A. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Economics, and a Ph.D. in Economics, all from the University of Chicago.

McPherson, who is co-author and editor of several books, including Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education, Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities;College Access: Opportunity or Privilege?;Keeping College Affordable;Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy; and was founding co-editor of the journal Economics and Philosophy.  He has served as a trustee of the College Board, the American Council on Education, Wesleyan University, and the DentaQuest Foundation.  He was a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  He is currently a trustee of McNally Smith College of Music and President of the Board of Overseers of TIAA-CREF.

LECTURE 2: The Political Economy of Cost Control on a University Campus   Register

Lawrence S. BacowPresident Emeritus, Tufts University    

Thursday, April 20th, 4pm to 5:30pm, Reception to follow

Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Building, Reception to follow in the Garbarini Lounge, Bechtel Engineering Building

President Emeritus Lawrence S. Bacow served as the twelfth President of Tufts University from September 2001 through July 2011. During his ten years as President, he advanced the university’s role as a leader in teaching, research, and public service. Nationally, he became well known as an advocate of broader access to higher education and the importance of need-based financial aid. After stepping down as President of Tufts after ten years of service, Dr. Bacow served for three years as President-in-Residence in the Higher Education Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He is currently the Leader-in-Residence at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He is a Senior Advisor to Ithaka S+R and was one of the authors of its major 2012 study of the barriers to the adoption of online learning systems in U.S. higher education. Prior to becoming President of Tufts, Dr. Bacow served on the MIT faculty for 24 years, the last three as Chancellor. He is also a member of the Lincoln Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Harvard Corporation. Dr. Bacow received his B.S in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his M.P.P. and Ph.D. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  

LECTURE 3: Toward Sustainable Financing of Higher Education  Register

Rick Levin, Chief Executive Officer,Coursera & President Emeritus,Yale University  

Thursday, April 27th, 4pm to 5:30pm,Reception to follow

Banatao Auditorium at Sutardja Dai Hall

Rick Levin is the Chief Executive Officer of Coursera. Coursera provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online. In 2013, Rick completed a twenty-year term as President of Yale University, during which time he played an integral role in growing the University’s programs, resources and reputation internationally. He was named to the Yale faculty in 1974 and spent the next two decades teaching, conducting research, serving on committees and working in administration at the university. Mr. Levin served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. He is a director of American Express and C3 Energy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Rick received his Bachelor's degree in History from Stanford University and studied Politics and Philosophy at Oxford University, where he earned a Bachelor of Letters degree. In 1974, Dr. Levin received his Ph.D. from Yale University and holds Honorary Degrees from Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, and Peking Universities.

For more information about any of CSHE's lectures and events, contact the Center for Studies in Higher Education at 510-643-9212 or email

2017 Clark Kerr Lectures

Michael S. McPherson, President, Spencer Foundation   

Lawrence S. Bacow, President Emeritus, Tufts University 

Rick Levin, Chief Executive Officer,Coursera & President Emeritus, Yale University

2014 Clark Kerr Lecture

Simon MarginsonSimon Marginson, Professor of International Higher Education at the Institute of Education, London


2012 Clark Kerr Lecture

Neil Smelser imageNeil Smelser, University Professor Emeritus of Sociology for the University of California 


2009 Clark Kerr Lectures

Hanna Holborn Gray imageHanna Holborn Gray, President Emeritus, Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Professor of History, University of Chicago 


2007 Clark Kerr Lectures

Donald Kennedy imageDonald Kennedy, President Emeritus, Stanford University, Editor of Science

2005 Clark Kerr Lectures

Charles Vest imageCharles Vest, President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


2003 Clark Kerr Lectures

Harold Shapiro imageHarold Shapiro, President Emeritus, Princeton University, and President Emeritus, University of Michigan