Your Chance to Run the Zoo

Ashley Thorne

What’s your idea of an ideal college? If you could design a university the way you wanted it, what would be your blueprint? Do you have opinions about what American higher education should look like? 

Do you want uniforms? Pets in the dorms? Or other reforms?

This summer NAS offers a platform for you to share how you would assemble academia if you had the chance. We are running our second annual “If I Ran the Zoo” series, a collection of essays submitted by readers who think they can improve higher education. Our series runs in the spirit of Dr. Seuss’s book of this title, in which a boy named Gerald McGrew visits a zoo and dreams up all the new and superior creatures he would bring in were he in charge: “But if I ran the zoo...I’d make a few changes. That’s just what I’d do.”

Of course, no individual gets to run all of American higher education, and that’s probably a good thing. But if you’ve ever had a nagging feeling that colleges could use some improvements, here’s your opportunity to say so out loud. We would like to publish a variety of viewpoints, so feel free to write in even if you don’t share NAS’s point of view. Our condition is that we ask each contributor to focus on the positive changes he or she proposes, rather than concentrating on what’s wrong with the status quo.

Highlights from our series so far include essays by Anne Neal, John Leo, and Erin O’Connor and Maurice Black, and we introduced this year’s sequence by making a YouTube video of NAS president Peter Wood depicting his zombie zoo.

There’s still time (we will close this year’s series at the end of the summer) to submit your “If I Ran the Zoo” essay for the NAS website. We also accept video submissions; rhymes are optional; and wild imagination is encouraged. To send in your contribution, email

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