Readers of the incendiary charges leveled by Daniel Greenberg in his June 8 op-ed column, "Where Higher Ed Has it Backward," deserve a more complete picture.

Mr. Greenberg complains that college costs are going up, that the record of providing opportunities for women is appalling and that superstars are paid more than apprentices.

Let's look first at costs. For most of this decade, the rate of increase in college tuition and fees has gone down, not up. Mr. Greenberg compares the cost of higher education to the consumer price index, but the cost of what colleges and universities have to buy -- faculty and staff salaries, laboratories, libraries and technology -- tend to increase faster than goods and services on which the index is based.

True, colleges and universities must find ways to become more "efficient," and new providers have emerged attempting to do just that. But at the end of the day, quality matters most.

As to opportunities for women, much more remains to be done. Women make up some 40 percent of the faculty in America's colleges and universities -- up from only 22 percent in 1959-60. And in 1995-96, some 40 percent of PhD recipients were women -- including 57 percent of the doctorates in the health professions, 42 percent in the biological and life sciences, and 23 percent in the physical sciences and technology. Increasing numbers of college deans, provosts and presidents are women.

Mr. Greenberg need look no further than the masthead of The Post and other national daily newspapers to identify the names of senior news staff -- executive editor, managing editor and deputy managing editor -- to gain a sense of the inequalities and challenges that remain. The same is true in higher education. But to say the record is appalling does both higher education and Mr. Greenberg's credibility a disservice.



American Council on Education