Red Emma read aloud most of Thomas Frank's Academy Fight Song to Rebel Girl over the weekend, just in case you wonder what their home life is like. It's like that.
In it, Frank recounts the sad tale of the corporatization of higher education and its effects on students and faculty. It can be found in the new issue of The Baffler.
Check out Rebel Girl's favorite section "Where the money goes":
Above all, what the masters of academia spend the loot on is themselves. In saying this, I am not referring merely to the increasing number of university presidents who take home annual “compensation” north of a million dollars. That is a waste, of course, an outrageous bit of money-burning borrowed from Wall Street in an age when we ought to be doing the opposite of borrowing from Wall Street. But what has really fueled the student’s ever-growing indebtedness, as anyone with a connection to academia can tell you, is the insane proliferation of university administrators.
Political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg tells the sorry tale in his 2011 book, The Fall of the Faculty. Back in the day, Ginsberg tells us, American universities were governed by professors, who would take time out from their academic careers to manage the institution’s business affairs. Today, however, the business side of the university has been captured by a class of professionals who have nothing to do with the pedagogical enterprise itself.
Administrators: Their salaries are generous, their ranks expand year after year, and their work requires no peer review and not even much effort. As Ginsberg reminds us, most of them don’t teach courses, they don’t squabble like English professors at the MLA, and no one ever suggests replacing them with adjuncts or temps. As tuition balloons, it is administrators who prosper. In fact, their fortunes are an almost exact reverse image of the tuition-indebtedness of the young.
According to Ginsberg, “administrators and staffers actually outnumber full-time faculty members” nowadays, even though it’s the faculty members who do the real work of education that we believe is so goddamned important. The numbers are startling. While the ranks of full-time professors have grown at about the rate of university enrollment generally since 1975—which is to say, about 50 percent—administrations have expanded at an amazing pace. Administrators proper are up 85 percent, Ginsberg reports, while the number of “other professionals” employed by universities has grown 240 percent. Their share of university budgets has grown by similar margins.
Naturally, an ugly new class conflict has begun to play out amidst the leafy groves. Administrators, it seems, have understood that the fortunes of their cohort are directly opposed to those of the faculty. One group’s well-being comes at the expense of the other, and vice versa. And so, according to Ginsberg, the administrators work constantly to expand their own numbers, to replace professors with adjuncts, to subject professors to petty humiliations, to interfere in faculty hiring, to distill the professors’ expertise down to something that can be measured by a standardized test.
It is not until you read Ginsberg’s description of the day-to-day activities of administrators that the light bulb goes on, however. The particular pedagogy that motivates this class of university creatures is . . . management theory. They talk endlessly about “process management” and “excellence.” They set up “culture teams.” They attend retreats where they play team-building games. And whole divisions of them are dedicated to writing “strategic plans” for their universities, which take years to finish and are forgotten immediately upon completion.
Political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg tells the sorry tale in his 2011 book, The Fall of the Faculty. Back in the day, Ginsberg tells us, American universities were governed by professors, who would take time out from their academic careers to manage the institution’s business affairs. Today, however, the business side of the university has been captured by a class of professionals who have nothing to do with the pedagogical enterprise itself....To read the rest - and you should! Aloud! To each other! - click here.