Public and private institutions of higher learning coexist throughout the United States in a pattern of diversity that is unknown in any other postindustrial society — and Massachusetts is a prime example of U.S. pluralism in education. In an era of scarce resources and mounting costs, the contrary instincts for cooperation and competition are at work. This article is an account ofa voluntary attempt among private and public colleges and universities between 1973 and 1976 to forge a fragile partnership — the Massachusetts Public-Private Forum — which first flourished, then foundered. Tracing the course of its early successes and final failure may help shape present education policy, as Massachusetts tries to find a common ground for a partnership between the public and private sectors.



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