The decision by the Association of American Universities to expel the University of Nebraska at Lincoln from its membership last spring showed the "growing disconnect between the elites of American higher education and contemporary reality," the university's chancellor said in his first comments on the decision since the controversy first flared in May. In his State of the University speech Thursday, Harvey S. Perlman, Lincoln's chancellor, focused most of his attention on what the university needs to do to raise its ambitions as it joins the Big Ten Conference, where its peers will include many of the country's strongest public research universities. (Among his goals: by 2017, increasing enrollment to 30,000 from 25,000, tenure-track faculty to 1,300 from 1,140, and the six-year graduation rate to 70 percent from the current 64.)
But he also acknowledged lingering disappointment about the AAU snub, though he asserted that it said more about the group of research universities than it did about Nebraska itself. "Our path is the right one for a socially relevant and forward-looking public research university," he said. "That path simply diverged from the new course that some AAU members have set. We'll let history judge which path will pay greater dividends."
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