Maybe we think that history is something that we can escape or at least transcend. After all, why should we be caught in the past when we have so many important responsibilities in the present moment, and leaders are supposed to be finding our way into the future? We talk about leaders with vision, but what is it that they see? Sometimes, we assume that vision is all about foresight, those things that we'll encounter as we move forward together. But vision also requires an absolute focus on what is occurring right now and a deep awareness and some responsibility to that which preceded us. History matters, and it's particularly important to recognize that history is delivered to us through the structures and cultures that surround us in American higher education. Structures are inherited which in many ways, empower us but also constrain us, and cultures determine almost everything about the way we approach our work, our relationships, and even our aspirations. Structures and cultures interrelate, and they are deeply influenced by the history which shaped them. Structures and cultures have very long memories and even longer tentacles. When we think about American higher education, we often take some pride in the fact that it has articulated a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and opportunity. But a closer look at the history of higher education, especially a view taken from the system level of higher education, is quite different than that. From the very beginnings of higher education in what became the United States, our colonial colleges were organized on a denominational perspective. What do I mean by that? Harvard was created as a way of preparing ministers for a specific Protestant congregation. And then William and Mary was the second colonial college; it was founded to prepare individuals and to advance the interests of the Church of England. And up and down the Eastern Seaboard, these early colleges were all organized with a particular religious consideration in mind – and it didn't stop there. Baptist colleges found their way to the South. Catholic institutions were founded largely in cities as they emerged with large immigrant Catholic populations. Wesleyan colleges moved from east to west and continued as far as Iowa, Nebraska until they ran out of steam or ran out of Methodists to find them. The same was true with women's colleges. When the decision was made at a societal level that women could benefit from some form of higher education, these colleges were set apart from the mainstream. Women were taught differently by different people and they were taught a different curriculum. The same was true with normal schools. These were places where we would prepare future teachers, and they adopted their own pedagogy, their own curriculum, and, for the most part, were closely associated with women's education. Even our land grant and public colleges, the moral that being one of what people around the world believe to be the great democratic commitment to higher education in the United States has to be understood as an effort to provide an entirely different set of knowledge and skills to individuals. And those institutions followed in their founding the same cultural pattern that the United States was experiencing at that time, right? They were founded state by state, and as you know, states were admitted to the Union in pairs for some part of the 19th century: a slave state and a free state. And so our land grant institutions followed that same pattern. When colleges were established for black students, they were not integrated for the most part in an existing system of higher education – they were set apart. These were the forerunners of what we now call our historical black colleges and universities. And even the land grant legislation which was renewed in 1890 set HBCUs apart from the state land grants. This same pattern of exclusion – exclusion in what we taught, who was taught, where we taught, and who taught – followed all the way through American higher education until quite recently. In the great expansion of higher education following the Second World War, we know that the G.I. Bill, for instance, followed some of the same structural parameters that had been built into our housing and our financial aid mechanisms, thereby structurally reinforcing the differences between individuals who were white males and others who might have joined higher education following World War II. And when we got to the point in the 1960s and 1970s where we decided that we needed to serve an entirely different kind of student, first-generation students and students who may have come from limited economic means, students who didn't or could not go away to college, students who wanted to enter the job market or remain in a job that they already had, part-time students, and importantly, students not previously considered to be college material, college-ready. We created a whole new group of institutions: community colleges. And these were not well integrated into the existing system of higher education. In fact, through structure in many parts of the country, especially with the California plan, these were set aside, oh yes, with the intention that individuals could climb the ladder. But let there be no mistake. Following the pattern of accommodating difference through exclusion, our community colleges were quite different in who they served, who taught, where they were located, and what was taught. This could occur to you as historical artifact or even accidental, but these same structural exclusions are reinforced in all sorts of ways in today's higher education. Think of how we issue accreditation and charters to colleges and universities and how we classify them. Think of what athletic conferences they join. Gives some thought to how promotion and tenure requirements differ from one set of institutions to another's. Whose letter of recommendation means the most in a promotion discussion? We're left with the structures embedded in tiered state systems that are loosely navigated through articulation agreements, but nonetheless different groups, different institutions, different purposes, different constituencies. And this all of course relates to rankings, to admissions practices, to the way we set tuition. It's very evident in accumulated endowments. Part of our institutional system, our higher education system, is very well endowed, but ironically, those are the very institutions serving, in many cases, the least needy students. And give some thought to standardized testing, something that emerged in the 20th century, something that's based on a somewhat constructed view of what constitutes intelligence, aptitude, or performance, and how deeply that has been structurally built in to the way in which we sort students into these different institutional categories. We accommodate differences through exclusion. We've done so throughout the history of American higher education: we do so today in who is taught, what is taught, when, where, and how, and ultimately to what purpose? What are the outcomes? Having this understanding of history, knowing that as a system, we profess the importance of inclusion, diversity, and equity, and yet, at the same time, we operate within structures that work against those very goals as part of the knowledge that every leader must have. And we have to be able to use the tools of our positions and our influence and have the courage, first to understand what's occurring here and how these structures affect us, but then to change them.