At the start of the 21st century, public higher education appears to be in a state of crisis. The overall share of state funding going to education has declined during the past 20 years, and with it the share of state ecucation funding going to higher education. Ehrenberg's research indicates that, as a result of these changes, faculty salaries at public doctoral institutions have declined over the past five years relative to faculty salaries at private doctoral institutions. This undoubtedly makes it more difficult for public institutions to attract high quality faculty. Public higher educational institutions, where about 80 percent of all college students and 65 percent of all four-year college students are educated, appear to be in serious trouble. In order to delve more deeply into his topic, Dr. Ehrenberg invited a wide-ranging team of experts to examine changes in public higher education over the last quarter century, and to present their findings at a conference at Cornell University in May 2005. Edited versions of their papers are presented here. The authors of the essays are leading researchers from around the country who have intensively studied the causes of the changing finances of public higher education and the ways in which these changes have affected public higher education institutions, their students, and their potential students.