My Discussion with Malcolm Gladwell About What Scares Him in Higher Education


When New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell visited recently, I got the opportunity to sit down with him before his address to campus to talk about some of the issues that have been on his mind lately, as well as mine.

Trends In Higher Education

If you listen to Malcolm’s popular podcast Revisionist History, then his thoughts about higher education won’t shock you. When I sat down with him, I wanted to dive into these very issues.

Why? Because we are, I believe, facing what Malcolm Gladwell famously referred to as a “tipping point” in the United States with regard to how we pay for higher education. Costs are rising, and universities are, by necessity, putting more of the tuition burden on families and students. The level of student loan debt being carried by students is staggering.

Malcolm shared with me the trends in higher education he’s excited about, and the one that scares him the most - and we explored how he would address the issues if he were in charge.

You can watch the discussion here:


Advice for Students

We also had a chat about the ways in which students in today’s educational environment can hone in on what makes them special and leverage those traits to make the most out of their available opportunities.

Malcolm talked to me about the importance of bringing real passion to one’s studies; that pursuing one’s passions is more fulfilling than perhaps just allowing an aptitude for a subject or pursuit dictate your educational experience. I couldn’t agree more, and he gives us some real insight into how to make the most of our time and investment at the University of Michigan.

You can watch the discussion here:


It was an honor to host Malcolm here on campus, and I think for the packed house at Hill Auditorium who heard him speak about the value of being disagreeable, it was an eye-opening, inspiring experience.

He’s certainly started an interesting conversation. And I look forward to continuing that with you all in the coming weeks and months.

Read more about Malcolm's recent visit

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