Professor-elect Obama: All Around the Liberal Arts

By Marissa Warden

Obama’s victory not only breaks down racial barriers and promises an era of hope and change, it is also the first time that the president, vice president and their wives will have worked in higher education, which may influence future policy decisions.President-elect Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Michelle Obama worked there as well, serving as the vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospital.

Joe Biden was an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, while Jill Biden taught English at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Stanton-Wilmington campus.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, there have been several reports of how Obama ran his campaign and Senate office “discussions with advisers much like graduate seminars, by seeking a diverse range of options and opinions.”

Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities told the Chronicle of Higher Education that Obama’s victory “bodes well for education in general and for higher education.”

Berdahl noted that although the economic crisis and war in Iraq would allow only limited discretionary spending, Obama’s plan for reducing greenhouse gas pollution would allocate $15 billion a year for energy-related research. Colleges and universities would receive some of this funding.

“I don’t see Obama being interested in trying to manage universities,” A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and a former assistant secretary of education under President Clinton told the Chronicle. The Bush administration has tried to regulate higher education by limiting any research concerning human embryonic stem cells.

“It would be a brighter day for higher education because at the top we would have people who understand it better,” Fritschler said.