Nancy Cantor, Transforming America: The University as Public Good

ForeseeableFutures #3 (with a response by Kristina Valaitis)

Position Papers from Imagining America

Imagining America’s 2003 conference was hosted by Cantor when she was Chancellor of the University ofIllinois at Urbana-Champaign. The conference theme was “Affirming Action: The New Politics of Cultural Knowledge.” That phrase, “affirming action,” sums up Cantor’s own approach to leadership.

In her address, she outlines a number of bold campus-community partnerships, many of which were integral to the Brown v. Board of Education Commemoration at the University of Illinois. Cantor makes a passionate case for the arts as “a context for exchange” and “a medium for participation” in a society where “pervasive and longstanding racial divides” persist.