A New Demographic Ballgame
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1992, 1(2), 2-3. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

The 1990-2010 period represents a rapidly changing demographic situation for institutional mission, clientele, faculty, access, and equity.

  • One-half of the population growth in the 80s was in three states: Florida, Texas, and California.
  • Non-traditional households grew twice as fast in the 80s as the traditional married couple households.
  • Youth in the "Boomlet" age group will increasingly be at risk of school failure-in large part from the stresses of poverty in single parent homes-and may not be candidates for higher education.
  • Students in higher education are becoming much more ethnically diverse, while the faculty are not.
  • Over the 1990 2010 period, states will become more unlike each other in terms of demographic characteristics.
  • The aging of populations in heartland states may lead to an erosion of public support for higher education in those states.
  • State colleges, independent colleges, and proprietary and vocational institutions are most at risk during the 90s.


Harold Hodgkinson offered these suggestions for meeting the needs reflected by demographic changes.

  • Focus on institutions demonstrating special skills in working with poor and minority students;
  • Send very clear signals that encourage minority participation in higher education;
  • Revise the current basic delivery mechanism to make the system more functional for a diverse student body;
  • Enlarge the pool of talented faculty, administrative and board leaders from minority and poverty backgrounds.


Hodgkinson, H. (1991, March). Testimony to US Congress on the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

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