I think it means this.
A university education is great but ordinary at the same time. It is not a means to create great people, like Washington, or Confucius, or Beethoven. It does something more ordinary; it improves the intellectual life of society. While this seems like an ordinary end, it is also a great end, because higher education gives people the tools to understand and improve their own culture, at the same time opening a door to the rest of the world.