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"Designing the New American University" cover
February 2015
Johns Hopkins University Press

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Designing the New American University

Michael M. Crow
William B. Dabars

America’s research universities consistently dominate global rankings but may be entrenched in a model that no longer accomplishes their purposes. With their multiple roles of discovery, teaching and public service, these institutions represent the gold standard in American higher education, but their evolution since the nineteenth century has been only incremental. The need for a new and complementary model that offers broader accessibility to an academic platform underpinned by knowledge production is critical to our well-being and economic competitiveness.

"Designing the New American University" examines the emergence of this set of institutions and the imperative for the new model, the tenets of which may be adapted by colleges and universities, both public and private. Through institutional innovation, universities are apt to realize unique and differentiated identities, which maximize their potential to generate the ideas, products, and processes that impact quality of life, standard of living, and national economic competitiveness.


Michael Crow became the sixteenth president of Arizona State University on July 1, 2002. An academic leader and educator, he is guiding the transformation of ASU into one of the nation’s leading public metropolitan research universities, an institution that combines academic excellence, inclusiveness, and societal impact — a model he terms the “New American University.”

William Dabars is senior research fellow for university design and senior director of research for the New American University in the Office of the President, Arizona State University. He received a doctorate in history from the University of California-Los Angeles, and his research and publications focus on the evolution of the American research university.

Praise for this book

"Over the past twelve years, Michael Crow has transformed ASU into one of America’s proudest research universities. Now, he and his colleague, William Dabars, share this model of success and the efforts of the university to bring it to scale — presenting untapped opportunities to boost our economic and global competitiveness and to further invest in our next generation of leaders."

Bill Clinton
Former president of the United States

"America has been blessed with the world's best universities, but it won't stay that way without wise change. Michael Crow has been inventing the new university for years; friends of higher education should go to school on his innovations, with this as their textbook."

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr.
President of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana