Tag Archives: administration

Harvard Botches a ‘Cheating’ Scandal

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By
Harvey Silverglate and Zachary Bloom

At first blush, the ongoing cheating scandal at Harvard
College appears to raise serious questions about academic integrity at that
fabled institution. If the allegations that 125 students inappropriately shared
notes and answers for a take-home exam in violation of the exam’s rules prove
true, the result will be a massive blot on Harvard’s near-perfectly manicured
public  image–especially now that top 
athletes have been implicated.

But let’s remember that because of the course’s confusing rules and guidelines concerning collaboration, no one, likely not even the
students themselves, can say right now whether their conduct was illicit. Worse
yet, we may
never know the truth, much less have a just verdict on the
propriety of the students’ actions, now that the case is securely in the hands
of the spooks haunting Harvard’s notorious Administrative Board.

Continue reading Harvard Botches a ‘Cheating’ Scandal

John Silber, R.I.P.

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John
Silber was not a humble man. In 1996, when he moved up from the presidency of
Boston University to the chancellorship, he likened his successor to Joshua and
himself to Moses, the only man, according to the Hebrew Bible, who saw God face
to face.

Today
it’s hard to image a college or university president mattering the way Dr.
Silber did then, to many within and without academia. Teresa Sullivan’s ouster
and reinstatement at the University of Virginia grabbed national attention, but
no one claims her leadership is greatly good or bad. Now as in the past, most
presidents exist to cast a glow of learning over mundane activities such as
placating faculty, blessing five-year plans, and, above all, raising money.

When
I worked for him, with the comical title of “Special Assistant for Covert
Operations,” Dr. Silber described himself in his Texan growl as zookeeper to some
of the most rambunctious critters on earth. But far from a mere caretaker, Silber
took a stand–often athwart history–for the sake of excellence. He offers an
example of how an elitist can actually thrive within a democracy.

Continue reading John Silber, R.I.P.

Shirley Tilghman Leaving Princeton

Shirley Tilghman, who has just announced that she will step down as president of Princeton at the end of the academic year,  was chosen as the successor to former president Harold Shapiro in part because the powers that be thought it about time that the university had a female in that office.  She was the first president of Princeton not to have been a former student (graduate or undergraduate) and she didn’t come with extensive administrative experience.

Among her accomplishments is the increased financial aid package that Princeton now offers to students from lower and middle income circumstances.  Undergraduates at Princeton overwhelmingly come from upper-middle-class and affluent families, and there has been a push under Tilghman’s watch to bring in students (including whites) from less affluent backgrounds student body. The idea is a good one and Princeton has enough money in scholarship aid to pull it off.

And under her presidency the undergraduate student body expanded by over 500 through the addition of Whitman College (named after benefactor and Princeton grad Meg Whitman).  The big advantage of this is that the ratio of recruited athletes to other students goes down.  While racial affirmative action still prevails, in keeping the number of athletes constant while increasing the total number of students admitted, a higher proportion of students who get into Princeton now make it on their brains, not athletic ability.

One of her biggest mistakes: Her claim in the face of the Larry Summers affair that “the data that would suggest there are innate differences in the abilities of men and women to succeed in the natural sciences is nonexistent.”  This is ludicrous.  Textbooks (e.g. Diana Halpern’s Sex Differences in Cognition, and Doreen Kimura’s Sex and Cognition) have provided exhaustive data. Only the wilfully blind could ignore the facts.

Another dubious decision: her refusal to allow the student Love and Chastity group to set up a center on campus that would be comparable to the feminist-oriented Women’s Center and the LGBT center.  The purpose of the center would be to present a haven from the campus hook-up culture and a place for students of traditional values regarding sex and marriage to have a place where they could share ideas and feel comfortable talking with students of the opposite sex.  The students even offered to pay for the center with donations from supportive alumni but Tilghman nixed the idea.  Her response, an open letter printed in the student newspaper, seemed remarkably weak. Shirley Tilghman is a nice person without a strong political or ideological compass. In academia, this indicates someone who will almost automatically absorb the secular leftism of the dominant campus ethos and the New York Times editorial page.

When Universities Raid Their Law Schools

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Earlier this month Annette Clark,
dean of Saint Louis University’s law school, abruptly
resigned
from her job via e-mail after only a year. She left after accusing the Jesuit
university and its president, Rev. Lawrence Biondi, of looting the law school
in order to fund other, non-law-related programs on the Saint Louis campus. 

This
was not the first time that a law dean has quit in a dispute over the
“tax”– the premium that law schools and business schools, which
typically charge higher tuition than other campus programs, must hand over to
their host universities. In July 2011 Philip Closius, dean of the public
University of Baltimore School of Law, quit his job under administration
pressure after asserting that the university kept–and used for its own
purposes–some 45 percent of the revenue that the law school generated from
tuition, fees, and state subsidies. In 2009 De Paul University in Chicago fired
its then-dean, Paul Weissenberger, apparently because Weissenberger complained
to the American Bar Association that De Paul had siphoned off more than the 25
percent of its law school’s revenues that the law school had agreed to
contribute.

Continue reading When Universities Raid Their Law Schools

In Hard Times, Diversity Bureaucracies Do Well

By Duke Cheston

Originally Posted from the Pope
Center for Higher Education Policy

About a year and a half
ago, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro attempted to hire a new
chief diversity officer. The university sought an administrator who would focus
on increasing appreciation for racial differences on campus–even though UNCG
already had five administrators in its Office of Multicultural Affairs tasked
with a similar mission. When the news surfaced, many people (some of them
writing in the Greensboro newspaper) expressed anger, arguing that the new
administrator was unnecessary, especially in a time of financial hardship.

Initially, UNCG chancellor Linda Brady
defended the new position (which would have cost the school roughly $200,000 in
salary and benefits) as a cost-cutting measure. In a letter to a local lawyer
obtained by the Pope Center, Brady wrote that the new position would save money
by fixing “an environment that doesn’t sufficiently embrace inclusion and
equity.” Without that fix, she wrote, UNCG would continue to lose money through
additional spending on remediation programs, responding to grievances, and the
cost of students dropping out. By March 2011, however, Chancellor Brady
officially abandoned the search for a new chief diversity officer, maintaining
the office’s current staff level.

Continue reading In Hard Times, Diversity Bureaucracies Do Well

After Awful Tragedies,
The Campus Bureaucracy Expands

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The Boston Herald is a scrappy, politically conservative
tabloid that normally rants and rails against excessive regulations and good-for-nothing
government bureaucrats. Yet in an editorial on the Penn State child
molestations, titled “Keeping campuses safe,” the Herald called for a heavily expanded
bureaucratic response. It excoriated “the football program staff” of Penn State
who, quoting assertions in the Freeh Report, “had not been
trained in their Clery Act responsibilities and most had never heard of the
Clery Act,” a 1990 federal statute requiring colleges and universities to
report crimes that happen on or near their campuses. It is named for Jeanne
Clery, a Lehigh University freshman raped and murdered in her dorm in 1986.

Statutes named after victims of rare but spectacularly awful crimes are
especially likely to be overkill laws that cause unnecessary added bureaucracy and
dismal unforeseen consequences. Yet here was the Herald, which knows better, on the side of more regulation
when it came to universities. The army of advocates for increased
administration in higher education’s already bloated bureaucracies has landed
on the Penn State scandal with considerable gusto. Self-interest motivates many
of those who argue for more regulations and increased numbers of administrators
at Penn State, including the increased use of professionals who provide
“training” for campus student life administrators. 

Continue reading After Awful Tragedies,
The Campus Bureaucracy Expands

Why Many Conservatives Got It Wrong on UVa

uva.jpgBy any ordinary standard, Teresa Sullivan is the kind of
university president conservatives love to hate. In 2010, after the Board of Visitors
unanimously elected her the first female president of the University of
Virginia, one of her first acts was to endorse and publish the UVA Diversity
Council’s statement expressing commitment in–what else?–diversity. Sullivan had co-authored two books on middle-class
debt with none other than Elizabeth Warren, who famously exploited informal
racial quotas at prestigious academic institutions by falsely claiming Native
American ancestry on the sole basis of her high cheekbones. In short, Sullivan
appeared as a diversity hire interested only in campus diversity at UVA and who
has worked with another diversity hire to produce diversity scholarship. It is as if Sullivan was not born but rather fashioned out of the politically correct
clich

A Stage-Managed, Occupy-Like Protest at CUNY

A central mantra of the PSC–the City University of New York’s hapless faculty union–is a complaint about defunding CUNY, as part of an alleged plot (by whom and for what reason we never learn) to “defund” public higher education. Yet over the past several months, the most aggressive advocates of “defunding” CUNY have been none other than union activists, who have piggy-backed on sporadic student protests against mild tuition increases in an attempt to embarrass the CUNY administration.

Continue reading A Stage-Managed, Occupy-Like Protest at CUNY

Out-of-Touch Faculty Act Out

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the peculiar coup attempt against University of Southern Maine president Selma Botman. As word of a no-confidence motion emerged, the plotters–most of whom were deeply-entrenched faculty–struggled to articulate a rationale for such an extreme move. They seemed displeased that a handful of administrators received raises when the plotters’ salaries had remained flat, but in a recession-suffering state with a legislature determined to reduce spending and an anti-education governor, no reasonable person could possibly blame President Botman for faculty salaries. The plotters also seemed to oppose Botman’s efforts to modernize the campus–but, again, they struggled to articulate a positive vision or explain exactly what Botman did that was wrong.

Continue reading Out-of-Touch Faculty Act Out

Diversity Training: Useless but Mandatory

Cross-posted from Open Market.

Diversity training doesn’t work, according to an article in Psychology Today. In it, Peter Bregman notes, “Diversity training doesn’t extinguish prejudice. It promotes it.”

But don’t expect it to stop. Government regulations often require that a school be accredited, a condition that accreditors like the American Bar Association use to force law schools to use racial preferences in admissions or run costly diversity and sensitivity-training programs (despite the dubious legality of some such diversity programs and admissions preferences). Such mandates have contributed to the growth of a vast and costly “diversity machine” in college administrations. (And as a condition of practicing law in California, I had to take continuing legal education on the topic of “elimination of bias in the legal profession.”)

Continue reading Diversity Training: Useless but Mandatory

Misconduct Hearings on Campus Are Rotten and Have to Change

This is the text of a speech given March 28, 2012 at a Manhattan Institute luncheon in New York City.

                                                                      ***

silverglate.jpgI began representing students in 1969. A group of Harvard students took over University Hall in an anti-Vietnam War protest. There was a lot of violence, President Pusey called in the police, and 220 students were charged with trespass on the property of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. My law partners and I took the case, and they tried them in groups of 20 students at a time. Much to the consternation of the President and Fellows, and the district attorney of Middlesex County, the jury said not guilty to the first group. So they gave up the rest of the cases. They figured if the jury wouldn’t convict the first 20, they’re not going to convict the rest.

And that got me interested in this whole area. And two years later,
in 1971, I had my first student disciplinary case in front of the now
feared Harvard Administrative Board. That’s the disciplinary body. And
it was a rather interesting case, and I want you to see where I’m
coming from, what I experienced at the beginning of my career. And then
I’ll tell you a little bit about the last 20 years.

Continue reading Misconduct Hearings on Campus Are Rotten and Have to Change

A Department Of Diversity at Berkeley

Berkeley diversity.jpgThe following job notice was posted August 4:

The University of California, Berkeley invites applications for a position as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in any of the following three areas: (1) Diversity and Identity; (2) Legal or Philosophical Frameworks for Diverse Democracies; and (3) Diversity, Civil Society and Political Action, or some combination thereof. The anticipated starting date is July 1, 2012. The search is part of the interdisciplinary Haas Diversity Research Center and will be conducted under the auspices of the Diversity and Democracy cluster of this Center….

Candidates are expected to have a Ph.D. or J.D. degree (preferably by July 1, 2012) in one of the following disciplines: law, philosophy, political science, or sociology; they should have a research and teaching portfolio that examines how our legal, political, and social institutions and practices adapt (or fail to adapt) to an increasingly multi-racial, multi-ethnic population. Special consideration will be given to candidates who work in any of the following areas: (1) the content and contestation of group identities; (2) the normative and legal implications of racial and ethnic diversity within democratic societies; (3) the civic and political engagement of diverse electorates within local, national, and transnational contexts.

Continue reading A Department Of Diversity at Berkeley

How Administrations Undermine Their Faculties

the fall of the faculty.jpgIt’s no secret that America’s colleges and universities have become bastions of political rectitude. This is often attributed to the left-liberal political orientation of the faculty. Typically, however, the administration, not the faculty, is the driving force behind efforts to promote campus diversity, to build multicultural programming and to regulate campus speech.  The president of the University of Rochester, for example, recently announced a 31-point “diversity plan” saying that diversity was a “fundamental value” of his university.

What accounts for the solicitude shown by university administrators for this progressive political agenda?  The chief reason is that a pitched battle for control of the university is under way, and by championing left-liberal causes administrators hope to bolster their own power

Less Academics, More Narcissism

Reprinted from City Journal. 

California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week’s meeting of the university’s regents. Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.

Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center. 

Continue reading Less Academics, More Narcissism

Faculty Bewildered as Administrators Siphon Off Money

“Inside Higher Ed” reports that Dartmouth College, facing a $100 million budget gap, is taking more funds from endowed chairs and endowed programs to help pay for administrative costs, alarming faculty, some of whom think the move is unethical.

Here is a first reaction to this news: we still think faculty run our institutions, but I’m not sure that is correct any more. Administrations run them, and more and more we are seeing the bureaucracies siphoning off funds from academic enterprises, including faculties.  At almost every school, bureaucratic spending has grown much faster over the past decade than spending on faculty salaries and the like.  There are several reasons for that, I think, but the big point is that the balance of power has shifted.  One thing that struck me on the Dartmouth experience was how much support we had from many faculty members, even those who disliked our politics.  What they liked was that we were railing against the proliferation of bureaucracy and the diversion of resources from the classroom. In many ways the modern academy has become much like the Washington administrative state: the bureaucracy/adminisration has grown in size and power and the legislature/faculty has shrunk. Of course the people (the students) become more and more irrelevant!

Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World

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New Pew Research Center data show that a large majority of Americans think U.S. colleges and universities offer only fair or poor value for the financial cost -but college presidents strikingly disagree, with a majority of them thinking college offers at least a good value (though college presidents are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the quality of American higher education compared to the world ten years from now). Similarly, a majority of Americans question whether college is truly affordable any more, a view that most college presidents do not share. More generally, people in the academy have views widely divergent from the mainstream of the American population.

Turning to college presidents, I think a lot of this attitudinal divide relates to the non-market environment in which colleges operate. How do you become a successful college president? You raise lots of money, which you then use to bribe the various constituents in the university community to keep them happy. The faculty you bribe with low teaching loads, good fringe benefits, and perhaps a nearby parking place. Your fellow top administrators whose support is vital you bribe with not only good salaries, but also lots of assistants who do much of the heavy lifting associated with the job. You bribe the students by giving them nice recreational and dorm facilities, and reach an implicit bargain with them to not demand much academically (hence grade inflation) and to largely ignore their hedonistic bouts of alcoholic and sexual excesses. You bribe the alumni with decent football and basketball teams and a nice campus facility where they can hang out. You bribe the trustees with whatever idiosyncratic whim they want. In short, you spend money to keep a narrow group of people associated with the Ivory Tower happy.

Contrast that with business leaders. They are motivated by profits, maximizing the gap between revenue and costs. To increase revenues, they must please vast numbers of persons with new or improved products. They also enhance profits by reducing costs, raising productivity so they can do more with less. They reward subordinates who further these goals with bonuses, stock options, etc.

Continue reading Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World

College Presidents–Do They Make Too Much Money?

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The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s recently released annual survey of the salaries of university presidents provides empirical support for the proposition that higher education today appears to be less about achieving lofty goals like disseminating knowledge, building character, promoting virtue and expanding the frontiers of what humans can do than it is about something far more mundane: keeping the members of the academy happy and well fed.

I believe strongly that free markets work remarkably well and that includes the market for labor. The reason LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey and CEOs of highly profitable top corporations (including for-profit universities) are exceedingly well paid (many millions of dollars annually) is that their contribution to their employers is huge and can usually be pretty well measured–so markets dictate that they are paid, roughly, what they contribute to output at the margin. The Cleveland Cavaliers sank as a basketball power when Mr. James moved to Miami, and with that the revenue stream generated by Mr. James’s talents fell as well.

Traditional higher education, however, is a different matter. Markets are not truly “free” (indeed, they are rather expensive!) Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State, cost that institution over $1.8 million in compensation last year (double the next highest paid public university president). But did that school have a good year because of President Gee? Who knows? Are students learning more?  Is Ohio State broadening our horizons of human potentialities more than in the past? Is President Gee worth roughly three times the salary of his predecessor? Is he well over twice as productive as the long-time president of the school’s arch athletic rival, Mary Sue Coleman of the University of Michigan? Again, who knows?

Continue reading College Presidents–Do They Make Too Much Money?

Male Market Share and the Distortions of Women’s Studies

gender.bmpHas something finally changed in the sexual politics of academia? For more than a generation the verities of feminist theory and female interests have dominated administration policy, including who gets accepted to college and who graduates.
Anyone who has taken part in academic life for the last thirty years is well aware of the organizational power of women’s studies departments. That power has yielded a tacit veto on initiatives they feel are neither philosophically nor practically in sync with their views. Efforts to study the behavior of men have tended to be smoothly integrated into “men’s studies” which can be harshly but fairly described as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the established women’s industry. For a common example, a review of the current course offerings of the University of Toronto reveals some 40 courses explicitly focused on women and their activities. There are two concerned with men specializing in homosexual and transgendered men.
This is clearly a reason for the growing disenchantment and ineffectiveness of male students which has led to a disproportionate ratio of female to male graduates is at least 40% male to 60% female. From their first day of school, males are less successful than females. Even in nursery school, four of five students expelled are boys (how does anyone get expelled from nursery school?) and the overwhelming number of victims of Ritalin are boys.

Continue reading Male Market Share and the Distortions of Women’s Studies

Could the Feds Tell College Students What to Do?

Women-in-Science.jpgIf the Obama administration’s argument that Congress has the authority to require every individual to purchase health insurance is upheld by the Supreme Court, many students may be in for a big surprise.
Yes, students. The administration argument, briefly, is that access to affordable health care is so essential to both personal and national security that individual choice of when or even whether to purchase insurance must be subordinated to the government’s authority to regulate the health care market. Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce is so pervasive, the administration argues, that it necessarily includes the power to require individuals to participate in that market, and to fine them if they refuse.
Here’s how Judge Henry Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia summarized the government’s argument, on his way to rejecting it:

Continue reading Could the Feds Tell College Students What to Do?

What Is Texas A&M up to?

image001.gifSomewhere in America the president of a public university is getting hammered by the chairman of the board of regents. The hammerer—let’s say he owns a chain of automobile dealerships – is arguing that the president must get faculty costs under control – or else.

“Admit it, John,” the chairman says to the president. “Your faculty are a bunch of lazy, overpaid whiners. You’ve got six months to figure out a pay-for-performance plan, or start looking for another job.”

A former physicist who understands well the hornets nest he’s about to fall into, our beleaguered university president is left with little choice but to come up with a quick and dirty plan.

“Give me a spreadsheet,” he orders his senior vice president for budget and planning. “I want every faculty member in this system to have a dollar value attached to his or her name, reflecting their net contribution to our bottom line. Then I want a faculty salary schedule to reflect that.”

The president got his spreadsheet. A former physics colleague who was awarded a Nobel Prize some twenty years ago saw his salary slashed in half. Though he’d become a star teacher since his Nobel, his research grants had been dwindling for years. By contrast, there was the recent hire in the Construction Management program. She was a new Ph.D. who was already bringing in tons of industry money for “research.” In contrast to the Nobel Laureate, her salary would shoot up 35 percent. Our university president could think only about what Albert Einstein once said: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

Continue reading What Is Texas A&M up to?

Why So Many Administrators?

I’ve often heard professors complain about a curious inverse pattern taking place on their campuses. Classrooms and office spaces for teachers seem to be getting harder to obtain, while administrative offices and buildings keep proliferating.
An important report by Jay Greene sheds light on it. It bears the title “Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education.” Greene collected data from the U.S. Department of Education on enrollments, costs, and personnel, including figures for employees who fall under the category “Administration.”
The major findings begin with costs and the student population:

Continue reading Why So Many Administrators?

Your College President Is Your Pal

Tales of the modern-day college president were reported by the Washington Post in a July 12th article, “College Presidents Taste Life Outside Their Offices,” by James Johnson and Daniel de Vise. The president, we were told, is more accessible and easy to talk to, less formal and willing to do things with students unheard of just a few years ago, including joining in a student snowball fight on campus. Many of them have transformed themselves from authority figures to buddies and big siblings as they show their human side. It is something that many parents and students have come to expect as they pony up tuitions that continue to grow even as their resources do not. The presidents want to show their respective publics that they know their students and their needs and will make a great effort to satisfy them.

The trend toward more effective marketing of the campus leader comes at the same time that colleges are offering greater creature comforts to their students – health clubs, new labs and classroom buildings, better appointed living quarters and increasing variety in campus dining. Thus, the accessible college president is like the concierge in a first-class vacation resort. In addition, the college can make contacts for students off campus – internships, study abroad programs, joint degree programs, new majors, distance learning and enhanced placement services for graduates. It strives to be “the college for all seasons.”

Although the article did not suggest it, the reality is that colleges are falling in line with other institutions in a transformation of major parts of American culture. They are putting extraordinary emphasis on what the consumer would like to have. In some significant ways, the institutions are becoming what the market expects of them. Their actual mission statement begins to describe what will sell. These institutions surrender the sense of self and the understanding of core values that traditionally represented who they were and what they were doing. In many respects they believe that their survival requires them to cast their lot with the future rather than the old past. In this way the accessible, genial, folksy college president is a beloved figure. In many respects, the new college president represents an improvement over the indifferent and aloof administrator. But if all we have is a change in style then we are not offered much in terms of what really matters. Indeed, the cost of satisfying more of what the public wants rather than what it needs is, in the long run, unsustainable. In the universities, these creature comforts mean higher tuitions and increased student debt to meet the costs of attendance. There is a real limit to this kind of accommodation as tuitions and fees consistently exceed cost of living indicators for other needs as the cost-benefit analysis piles up heaps of benefits, some of them unnecessary. A day of reckoning may soon be at hand.

Continue reading Your College President Is Your Pal

When the Administration Takes Over the Departments

New Jersey’s Kean University is planning to institute a controversial new academic structure. The university has presented a draft proposal , its second, to replace the traditional arrangement of academic departments with schools headed by “executive directors” appointed by the president. Initiatives to eliminate such departments as philosophy and social work are already in the hopper, “but this plan would kill even large departments like English and biology, dividing faculty members into new organizational structures they played no role in creating.”
Not surprisingly, Kean’s proposal is sending shock waves through the faculty at Kean and elsewhere. It constitutes a serious challenge to long-standing notions of academic freedom and university life. Among other things, academic freedom entails a significant degree of shared faculty governance, which includes some meaningful say over the organization of teaching and curriculum matters. Kean’s proposal “will allow the upper administration to exert increased control over faculty work lives,” said physics professor James Castiglione, who is also the president of the Kean Federation of Teachers. “That’s what this whole thing is about. This whole thing is about control.”
Defenders maintain that the reform is necessary to save money, but debate rages over the financial consequences of the plan and the costs of reorganization. While cutting 38 department chair positions will save money, the plan also calls for creating eighteen “executive directors” to oversee the new arrangement. Faculty leaders contest the university’s broader claims regarding its financial situation, while university officials stress that the university anticipates a $17.7 million deficit next year. “To suggest that Kean University, for whatever motive, is somehow immune from New Jersey’s severe budget crisis is irresponsible and not in line with economic reality,” a university spokesman told Inside Higher Ed.
Few of us are in a position to determine the truth regarding Kean University’s financial straits. That said, the very existence of the case reflects fundamental changes in the political and economic environment of higher education that are well worth considering. Universities are facing perhaps unprecedented financial pressures in the brave new world of mountainous debt, and something must give. But is the reshaping of higher education a promising step or an occasion to mournfully sing “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie?”

Continue reading When the Administration Takes Over the Departments

Dartmouth Turns on a Dime

I once asked a pilot friend if he didn’t tire of the lumbering, leviathan commercial airliner he flew. He surprised me by saying that a 747 can handle like a Lamborghini if ever it needed to.
A bit of that seems to be underway in Hanover, New Hampshire, where the new president of Dartmouth College, my alma mater, is responding with alacrity to the slackening economy. Even given the market’s nosedive, Dartmouth possesses a substantial multi-billion dollar endowment and employs nearly 2,800 full-time equivalent staff and 450 faculty. That’s a rather large organization—one now operating at a loss of $34 million.
But Dartmouth has one big asset: a group of Carl Icahnesque independent trustees who were elected by worried alumni in 2004, 2005, and 2008. These outsiders were vigorously resisted by Dartmouth—whose power establishment didn’t want activist directors—but the outsiders’ platforms of staunch fiscal conservatism and a leap out of the thicket of professional educrats won the day. After all, who needs a “Sustainability Director” or a “Dean of Pluralism”?
Alumni responded by their levels of giving, and Dartmouth’s former president, historian James Wright, responded by resigning his post early. In that position, now, is Jim Kim, the Harvard doctor who has never been the head of a major organization but who has now been thrown into a parlous billet.

Continue reading Dartmouth Turns on a Dime

Stanford ’89, A Happier Takeover

By John McWhorter
Debra Dickerson said of the Cornell students who took over Willard Straight Hall at Cornell in 1969, “What they actually wanted was beyond the white man’s power to bestow.” Even after they were granted a Black Studies department as they demanded, a core of black students remained infuriated at Cornell as still “fundamentally” racist.
As we mark the fortieth anniversary of that day, I am reminded of one twenty springs later in May, 1989, when 60 Stanford students took over the university president’s building and were arrested. Because 1989 was such a different America racially from that of 1969, such that Stanford had a healthy body of black students of middle-class provenance and above, what went down in the annals as “Takeover 89” was fundamentally a happy event. It was symbolic of a general detour in race ideology in America, and the memory has never left me.
The idea was that in not acceding to certain demands regarding minority issues, the administration had revealed itself to be racist. Interesting, though, what the “demands” were. This time there was already a Black Studies program, plus a student association, and a theme house. So instead, the main demands were four: a Native American Studies department, an Asian-American Studies department (despite there being an Asian-themed dormitory and university-funded Asian students’ association), an assistant dean for Chicano affairs (despite a Chicano student center), and a vague demand for “more” black professors. After all, if black professors are not 13% of the faculty when black people are 13% of the American population, then you know what that’s all about.

Continue reading Stanford ’89, A Happier Takeover