Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who's dismantling

the Ivory Tower?

"It’s hard to find a day we aren’t inundated by the news of more financial troubles for the University of Minnesota and higher education in general. It’s hard not to feel students’ educations are being left on the bench in place of a profit-driven administration"
From an outstanding column by Nora Leinen in the University of Minnesota Daily.

There is an excellent book on this topic by UC Santa Barbara English prof, Christopher Newfield, published by Harvard U. Press, "Unmaking the Public University."

The answer to the question about who is dismantling the Ivory Tower (and why) may be found there.

Just one example:

"I also show in Part III how privatization has distorted the universities accounts, thus underestimating the contribution of cultural fields to the university and of the university to society.

Though most universities insisted that the university be allowed to engage in self directed non-commercial activity, they increasingly kept the books as thought basic research would lead to commercial benefit. They also kept the books incorrectly, which resulted in disfavoring the humanities and social sciences while obscuring the little-known fact that externally funded scientific and technological research requires subsidy from internal funds that are generated in part by teaching enrollments in the human sciences."

This book should be required reading for the Morrill Hall Gang.

“I am deeply concerned about the notion that if we spend much less, that we can somehow weather these storms and still deliver the same quality of education, President Bruininks said in the Daily article.
This has already happened, at least according to the students who are here.

"As for commitment to quality education at an affordable cost? Meaningless drivel. The administration has flatly failed on its promises of excellence and affordability." Daily (13 Oct 2009)

There are solutions to these problems. Ask your colleague Gordon Gee at Ohio State and change the University's behavior at the legislature.

Leadership matters.

Also align the goals of the University with those of the citizens of the state. Are they interested in an affordable, high quality education? Or do they believe that more sand should be pounded down the rat-hole that is the third best public research university in the world fiasco? For shame! You know the answer to this question.

For some suggestions on how to get out of this mess, please see an old rant that is relevant even today:

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