Higher Ed Bubble
How to Fight Administrative Bloat on Campus
show comments
  • ljgude

    I am 71 and a veteran of institutions of Higher Education both in the US and Australia. and as both a student and a faculty member and with the exception of the view as an undergraduate at Columbia, administrators were always the most important people on campus. Not that they were unimportant at Columbia, but at least as an undergraduate it was the big name academics who seemed most important to us as naive undergraduates. There was Lionel Trilling of the English department for example, who later begat Edward Said who begat Obama…but I digress. Everywhere else it was the president, the barely disguised CEO, who was the most important while the faculty was relegated to the role of fractious employees. The trend was plain in the 60s. At their best these corporatist leaders and their ever growing bureaucratic cadres were visionaries who really did build better institutions that met community needs. But mostly they just served themselves and their hangers on and have ended up continuously debasing the value higher education. .I think the root cause of this little social disaster is a category mistake. We have aped the success of our for profit corporations (from Standard Oil to Google) and forgotten what universities are for – to prepare the next generation to carry on in their turn and instead made them into profit making institutions where the students become customers to be exploited rather than our posterity to be developed for the common good. Professor Meade, I notice, comes out from the Ivory Tower (made safe, no doubt, by the Rooks and Bishops of the Bard administration) into the rough and tumble of the intellectual commons on the Internet and brings his interns with him. And. Brings. His. Interns. With. Him. – who will go on ably, long after he and I have passed from this world.

    • Jim__L

      Since the 60’s, eh?

      That explains how the academy was taken over by intellectually useless radicals — pandering. Simple pandering. I’ve often wondered how that was allowed to happen.

      Now, how to turn it around? Can the very entrenched nature of these useless “intellectuals” be used against them?

      • ljgude

        I wasn’t trying to explain academic radicalism, but administrative bloat in Higher ed. I was certainly well placed at Columbia to see the beginnings of 60s radicalism in the academy and indeed I did witness the build up to it graduating in ’64. But it was at the state universities, and other second and third tier institutions that I noticed the primacy of administrators and found the same pattern in Australia when I came to teach here in ’76. I think there is a connection between the corporatism of the administrators and the remarkably uniform leftist politics of the faculty room which in part arises from the natural tension between management and labor. In my experience the corporatist administrators treated faculty as common laborers extracting higher productivity in the form of greater teaching loads as my career progressed. I think faculty have responded in many cases like spoiled children and well …weed in the soup by mendaciously subverting the academic search for truth by teaching reductionist leftist ideology. I think there is much more to it, but that is where I start trying to connect the two.

  • free_agent

    You write, “Given schools’ exquisite sensitivity to the U.S. News rankings”.

    That’s quite true. I’ve talked to administrators at my alma mater, and they report that if the school drops a few places on the USN rankings one year, the professors can tell the next year that the freshmen are noticeably less smart.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.