The Glion Declaration – The University at the Millennium (1999)

NW Glion Declaration, Publications

The industrial countries of the West have much in common in defining and meeting the great challenges facing their Higher Education systems in the new millennium. Recognizing this, a small group of Western Europeans and Americans, long closely associated with Higher Education, arranged for a Colloquium to examine these challenges
in depth and to propose promising initiatives for meeting them. Toward this end, a group of ten Europeans and ten Americans met in Glion, Switzerland during May 13-17, 1998.


The industrial countries of the West have much in common in defining and meeting the great challenges facing their Higher Education systems in the new millennium. Recognizing this, a small group of Western Europeans and Americans, long closely associated with Higher Education, arranged for a Colloquium to examine these challenges
in depth and to propose promising initiatives for meeting them. Toward this end, a group of ten Europeans and ten Americans met in Glion, Switzerland during May 13-17, 1998.

At the request of the members of the “Glion Colloquium”, Professor Frank H. T. Rhodes, President Emeritus, Cornell University, gave expression to the collective views of the participants in the form of this Declaration. The participants are grateful to him for his sensitive and eloquent summary, the first draft of which was circulated to
all participants, who then contributed editorial comments and suggestions.

While the principal focus is on research intensive universities in Europe and North America, significant portions of the Declaration also speak to the colleges and other institutions of Higher Education in both Europe and North America, e.g., information technologies, new patterns of governance, leadership and management, and issues
of accountability.

We thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Swiss Science Agency, the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the University of Geneva, the Swiss Rectors Conference and Swissair for their generous financial support. We are also indebted to the Association of European Universities in Geneva which kindly put Mrs. Mary O’Mahony, Deputy General Secretary, at our disposal for the full length of the Colloquium.Werner Z. Hirsch University of CaliforniaLuc E. Weber University of Geneva

Participants and Signators

  • Prof. Paolo BLASI, Rector, University of Florence, Chairman of the Italian Rectors’Conference, Member of the Board, International Association of Universities
  • Prof. James J. DUDERSTADT, University Professor of Engineering, President Emeritus of the University of Michigan
  • Prof. David P. GARDNER*, President, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, President Emeritus of the University of California and of the University of Utah
  • Prof. Hans Van GINKEL, Under-Secretary-General and Rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo, Vice-President International Association
    of Universities and Association of European Universities
  • Prof. Werner Z. HIRSCH*, Department of Economics, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Prof. Stanley O. IKENBERRY, President of the American Council
    on Education, President Emeritus of the University of Illinois
  • Prof. Charles F. KENNEL*, Director of the Scripps Institution
    of Oceanography and Vice-chancellor, University of California at San Diego
  • Dr Guy NEAVE, Research Director of the International Association
    of Universities
  • Prof. Howard NEWBY, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of
    the Universities of the United Kingdom
  • Prof. Jacob NUESCH*, Member of the International Committee of the
    Red Cross, President Emeritus of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich
  • Mr. Peter PREUSS, President, The Preuss Foundation and Regent of
    the University of California
  • Professor Frank H. T. RHODES, President Emeritus of Cornell
  • Mrs. Auriol STEVENS, Editor of the “Times Higher Education Supplement”
  • Prof. Chang-Lin
    , NEC Distinguished Professor of
    Engineering, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley
  • Prof. Martin
    , Graduate School of Public Policy, University of
    California at Berkeley
  • Prof. Dennis
    , Professor at the University of Geneva,
    Chairman of the Executive Board, German National Research Center for
    Information Technology
  • Dr Alan
    , Principal Administrator, Directorate for
    Education, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD Paris
  • Prof. Luc E.
    , Consul for international Affairs of the Swiss
    Rectors’ Conference, Member of the Board of the International Association
    of Universities, Rector Emeritus of the University of Geneva
  • Prof. Harold M.
    , President Emeritus of the Getty Trust and
    former Regent of the University of California
  • Prof. Heide
    , President of the International University in
    Germany, Rector Emeritus of the University of Stuttgart
  • The University at the Millennium

    The new millennium, into which we move and which our children will inherit, confronts us with a bewildering mixture of promise and threat. On the one hand, we glimpse the promise of revolutionary advances in biomedicine, communications, information technology, alternative energy sources, new materials, automation and globalization; on the other hand, we contemplate the looming threats of balkanization, tribalism, terrorism, sectarianism, north-south inequalities, hunger, the intricate balance between population, resources and environment, the challenge of sustainable development and the relationship of all
    these to the future of traditional nation-states. And, if the balance
    between promise and threat is unclear, what is clear is that the essential key — though not the only key — to human well-being in this daunting
    new world is knowledge.

    Now knowledge is not a free-good; it is not a naturally-occurring resource. It is a personal discovery, an individual creation. It comes only to the prepared mind, coaxed into existence by personal reflection and inquiry, individual discovery, sophisticated research and
    costly exploration. And it can be received, understood, and applied only
    by the educated and informed individual. Those things on which the
    future of humankind will chiefly depend in the new millennium —
    education, personal skills, natural resources, effective capacities,
    sustainable communities, as well as wise leadership, informed choice,
    national discipline, sound policies, international agreements, the humane use
    of technology and the judicious and benevolent use of resources —
    will depend increasingly on knowledge: knowledge discovered,
    knowledge gained, knowledge tested, knowledge shared, knowledge applied.
    And these things, in turn, will require wisdom: the way in which
    knowledge is weighed and used.

    Knowledge is the core-business of the university. In every
    aspect of its discovery, testing, dissemination and application, the
    universities of the world play a crucial role. In this role, they are not alone. They are part of a great network of tertiary education; they depend on
    the work of schools and colleges; they are partners with
    professional associations, non-government organizations, industry,
    business, research institutes, hospitals, government agencies and
    international organizations; they share the concerns and contribute to the needs
    of their communities, regions and nations. But, beyond all these
    alliances and dependencies, vital as they are, the universities play a unique
    and crucial role. They are the chief agents of discovery, the major
    providers of basic research that underlies new technology and improved
    health care, they are the engines of economic growth, the custodians
    and transmitters of cultural heritage, the mentors of each new
    generation of entrants into every profession, the accreditors of competency
    and skills, the agents of personal understanding and societal
    transformation. In them, on a daily basis, the young and the old seek to bring
    wisdom, insight and skills to bear in the daunting complexities of human affairs.

    The university is one of the greatest inventions of the present millennium: although created more than nine centuries ago, it
    remains one of the glories of human aspiration and one of the triumphs of
    the power of imagination. We, as members of its community of
    learning, challenge it to play a transforming role in society, and thus to transform

    To the university:

    a call to imaginative boldness and responsible freedom

    Universities are learning communities,
    created and supported because of the need of students to learn,
    the benefit to scholars of intellectual community, and the importance
    to society of new knowledge, educated leaders, informed citizens, expert
    professional skills and training, and individual certification
    and accreditation. Those functions remain distinctive, essential
    contributions to society; they form the basis of an unwritten social compact,
    by which, in exchange for the effective and responsible provision of
    those services, the public supports the university, contributes to its
    finance, accepts its professional judgment and scholarly certification, and grants
    it a unique degree of institutional autonomy and scholarly
    freedom. Within this compact, the university has a reciprocal obligation
    for impartial scholarship, the highest professional competence and
    integrity, the cultivation of advanced knowledge and a love of learning among
    its students, and a sensitivity towards the need for its services in
    society at large. The situation confronting all nations — both industrialized and developing — now requires, as never
    before an informed citizenry, an educated workforce, skilled in
    handling changing and increasingly sophisticated tasks, and this, in turn,
    requires not only achieving an optimum level in student enrollment, but also
    the means of providing and pursuing life-long learning. At the very time
    of these new demands, the universities are experiencing severe
    financial constraints, with increasing competition for scarce public funds for
    other pressing public needs. Yet these other social needs demand, in turn,
    a renewed public investment in higher education, as the need
    increases for creative solutions to social problems, sustainable development
    and the expansion of skilled professional services. Wise political
    leadership will be required to sustain long-term investment in learning,
    without which social advancement is an empty dream.

    We call on our colleagues in the universities

    to recognize their unique responsibilities and opportunities
    to their communities, regions and the larger global society by :
    Their affirmation that teaching is a moral
    involving not just the transfer of technical information,
    however sophisticated, but also the balanced development of the whole
    person. That will mean an emphasis on the development of a creative
    learning environment — rather than relying solely on the traditional pattern
    of formal lecturing and “one-way” teaching — the cultivation of a
    student-centered and student-friendly atmosphere and the goal of
    producing not only highly skilled, but also broadly educated,
    self-motivated graduates, with a thirst for life-long learning, aware of their
    heritage, conscious of their civic obligations and ethically responsible in
    their professional careers.
    Their affirmation that scholarship is a public trust. All members of the university community — young and old —
    are committed to learning, and to the discovery and exploration on which
    it is based. Scholarship, though it is rooted in individual insight
    and personal inquiry, is a cooperative venture, supported by public
    funds and private patrons as a social enterprise, because it enriches
    human understanding and contributes to human well-being. That public
    support presupposes the impartiality and independence of the scholar, and
    the integrity of the scholarship. Two opportunities — new alliances and
    the use of information technology — now offer the possibility of
    expanding the range and usefulness of scholarship and providing
    unprecedented benefits to society. Creating new intellectual alliances within the university and
    new partnerships outside it.
    Traditional disciplines, with their deliberate concentration
    and abstraction, are powerful engines of scholarship but, for all their
    power, they impose self-created canons and constraints on broader
    inquiry. Strong departments, for all their benefits, may restrict the range
    and limit the scope of critical investigation. Strong disciplinary
    expertise will continue to be essential, but, wedded to the insights and skills
    of those from other disciplines and professions, it now offers
    unusual promise in confronting broader public issues.

    Partnership with institutions, agencies and corporations beyond
    the campus can supplement and extend the skills of the academy.
    Scholars have been slow to apply their skills to pressing social issues,
    partly, one supposes, because of their complexity and intransigence;
    partly, perhaps, because of a lack of both means and incentives to
    address them, and partly because the issues are often controversial and
    the risks of failure are high. But society needs the insight and expertise
    of the academy in all areas of great public concern. New alliances,
    new support and new incentives are needed to address them, just as
    the land grant university was created in response to the needs of
    mid-19th century America. These new alliances will not replace the norms
    and canons of traditional disciplines, but will be a powerful supplement
    to them.

    Employing new information technology (IT),

    which now allows the organization of these partnerships on a
    grand scale, whether locally-focussed, or globally-based. This new
    technology can now provide massive interdisciplinarity, and experiment
    and simulation of undreamed-of power. It is likely to transform every
    aspect of the university’s activities, but if its capacities are to be fully
    employed in their learning, research and public service, universities will need
    to encourage flexibility, entrepreneurism, experiment and breadth
    within their organizational structures and among all their members. Recognizing public service as a major institutional obligation and providing the means and
    the incentives to pursue it. For all its independence and autonomy,
    essential as these are, the university has a social responsibility and a
    public obligation. It must use its autonomy, not as an excuse for
    isolation, indifference or advocacy, but as a means of making an
    independent contribution to society, providing an impartial voice and
    professional service to the public good. Providing new structures, flexible career paths and
    selective support
    for new patterns of creative inquiry, effective learning, and
    responsible public service. Universities have proved remarkably adaptive over
    the centuries in responding to new challenges and novel
    opportunities. Financial constraint will, however, require the future development
    of new initiatives more by substitution, than by addition; this will
    strain existing hierarchies and structures, require new patterns of
    appointment and employment and demand new methods of funding and
    support. Antiquated structures, cumbersome procedures and narrow,
    exclusive career tracks are likely to require substantial modification if
    universities are to make the most effective contribution to changing challenges
    and opportunities. Developing new patterns of governance, leadership
    and management
    that promote effective learning, creative scholarship and
    responsible service. Universities have prospered to the extent that they have developed an effective and responsive pattern of shared
    governance, which has served them well. This has typically involved a
    three-fold pattern of public oversight and trusteeship, shared collegial
    internal governance and informed — and generally consensual but often
    short-term — administrative leadership. Though the particulars have
    varied with time and place, this overall three-fold pattern has proved
    both durable and effective, but it now shows signs of intense strain.
    Some public governing boards have become more politicized than has
    been historically true, asserting authority over areas once viewed as
    faculty prerogatives; government ministries and state agencies in
    some countries have engaged in micro-management of university
    affairs; faculty councils have sometimes used their powers to promote
    special interests, delay action, and prevent proposed reforms;
    administrative leadership has been seen as too weak in some institutions and
    unwisely assertive in others, while effective management is widely seen as
    the casualty of these competing interests, held hostage to
    indecision, compromise and overlapping jurisdiction. At its best, the
    contemporary university is seen as a model of effective participatory governance;
    at its worst, it is seen as an archetype of bureaucratic bumbling and
    learned inefficiency.

    All universities need to work with their stakeholders to ensure
    the preservation of the benefits of collegial governance and openness
    with the achievement of excellence, responsiveness and effectiveness in
    all their various activities. This will require institutions to clarify and
    redefine jurisdiction and responsibility; it may also require rethinking
    and strengthening the role of the rector/chancellor/president and the
    terms of appointment to this office. Accepting the obligation for accountability. It is the public, through direct state and federal payments,
    tax exemption, voluntary support, corporate contributions and private
    gifts — as well as fees for service — such as student tuition, housing
    charges and patient fees, for example — who sustain the university. To
    them, the university must be openly and appropriately accountable for
    the prudent use of its resources. This accountability requires, of
    course, the fullest level of professional financial reporting and
    independent professional auditing. What it does not mean, however,
    is accommodation to every political pressure, popular-demand, public
    interest, scholarly fashion or social whim, whether from within
    or without. The university must be properly accountable for its
    “output”; the integrity of its scholarship, the quality of its professional
    standards, the impartiality of its judgments and the competence of its
    graduates. But, beyond those things, it must remain sturdily independent,
    yielding neither to internal activist interests, nor to external pressure,
    but changing deliberately, selectively and responsibly, in the light of
    public needs and changing knowledge. Anything less would make it
    truly unaccountable, as well as fundamentally compromising its
    essential function. Affirming the ancient values upon which the academy is established. In a society of shifting
    goals and uncertain values, the university must stand for something
    more than accurate data and reliable information; more, even than
    useful knowledge and dependable standards. The university is the
    custodian, not only of knowledge, but also of the values on which that
    knowledge depends; not only of professional skills, but of the ethical
    obligations that underlie those professional skills; not only of scholarly
    inquiry, disciplined learning and broad understanding, but also of the
    means that make inquiry, learning and understanding possible. In
    its institutional life and its professional activities, the university
    must reaffirm that integrity is the requirement, excellence the
    standard, rationality the means, community the context, civility the
    attitude, openness the relationship and responsibility the obligation upon
    which its own existence and knowledge itself depend. For 900 years of the present millennium, the university, as a community dedicated to those values has
    served society well. Its effectiveness in the new millennium will depend on
    its reaffirmation of those ancient values as it responds creatively to
    the new challenges and opportunities that confront it. This is the
    moment for both society and the university to reaffirm the social compact,
    on which the future of all our peoples will so largely depend, and for
    their leaders to work together towards the achievement of their
    common goals.* * *