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Higher Education Watch
Is Corporatization the Problem?
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  • Episteme

    When you say “it’s too corporate but not corporate enough,” you have it exactly correct – although it’s perhaps more apt to say that it’s too corporate but not market enough. There are all the corporate architectures in place but not the responsibilities that come with them, both on account of the dirigisme of federal spending and the speech-code elements that come with hiding around tenure and unionization. It’s a Frankensteined system that grows both without internal results for itself (as other corporatized organizations would need) or external results for its student “customers” (increasingly in an economy with certification requirements not of a piece with training requirements and broad changes in worker supply and demand impacted not just by the usual suspects but, in the case of the college-educated, the weigh-down of older workers remaining in the work force). As you note, deBoer is describing parts of a real problem but casting a selective thesis around it – one that you put a fuller take on. As all these stories on higher education and resultant employment/non-employment show, we have a cluster of issues that have no one or two easy solutions (and politicians who want to posit one or two easy solutions – and never ones that will actually help the problems actually at play). Meanwhile, those of us in younger cohorts face real economic issues stemming from this that all the blog posts about “underwater basket-weaving majors” in the world won’t actually do one whit to alleviate.

  • Anthony

    In trying to understand the American Higher Ed system (generally), we would do well to look at the social context in which it operates. American Colleges (Universities) are more than an education system; they are an entire cultural and social order, first and foremost. The majority, if not all, are organized as corporations – so thesis of post Res ipsa loquitur. To this end, discussion about administrative bloat, Federal intervention, right/left anchoring of policies, acknowledged purpose of University/College missions, etc. overlooks corporatist architecture – Universities/Colleges ruled by Boards of Trustees (exercising final judgment [generally] over institutional matters). That being the case, we witness fundamentally not only institutional control but also the the subtle directing of real dominant values of social organization via Corporate Model; so, DeBoer has point but his critique omits a true purpose of Academe.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Here is the gem sentence from DeBoer’s full piece:

    “That the contemporary campus quiets the voices of both students and teachers — the two indispensable actors in the educational exchange — speaks to the funhouse-mirror quality of today’s academy.”

    TAI, in its all-too-familiar myopia of wanting to blame everything on “the Blue Model”, seems to not understand that what is wrong with college is that any meaningful Blue-Model power in the hands of students and teachers has been conquered and—-for all practical purposes—– no longer exists. It has been replaced by something more like a red model where customers are milked, executives are over-compensated and the teaching employees are diminished into a to a hapless and helpless herd of temps.

    • MartyH

      The rise in higher education costs costs while decreasing quality is totally blue model.

      1) Subsidize something. Government backed student loans offered by banks were the start. Tuition starts rising as the schools-not the students- benefit from the subsidies.
      2) Declare the public/private subsidy system inefficient and make all subsidies completely public. Schools invest in the “experience”, not the education-the Taj Ma-Dining-Hall, the apartment like “dorms”, the high tech gyms and rock climbing walls, etc.-anything to get the students in and the subsidies flowing.
      3) Costs continue to climb, and the proposal to make it affordable again is to make it free, as President Obama has proposed.

      Here’s a paper by the Fed saying that 65% of student loans go to increasing tuition:

      As a result, student loan debt is second only to mortgage debt in this country-with the debt holders being our youngest and naivest adults.

      Eliminate the Federal Student loan program and schools will have no choice but to focus on education again, as opposed to focusing on getting that sweet student loan money from Uncle Sugar.

      • FriendlyGoat

        College administrators collecting six-figure salaries while paying coaches seven figures and luring the “youngest and naivest adults” into debt is not “blue”. It’s red. That’s the point.

        • Kevin

          Arguing over red or blue is besides the point. Universities are just one example of where public resources are diverted to private consumption in the name of some public virtue, often with the funding’s origin from the treasury disguised and the whole sordid enterprise cloaked as some noble endeavor to better society and insulate it from public criticism.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I “sort of” agree with you. To me, there was no good reason for TAI to use this particular subject as a platform for arguing against “the Blue Model.”

        • Dale Fayda

          “Luring into debt… It’s red.” Piffle!

          The higher education system is controlled top to bottom by the Left – practically EVERYONE employed in either the academic or in the administrative capacity by pretty much every college is left-of-center and in many cases far-left. Fact.

          The Left has been pushing people into college by hook or by crook for decades now. According to the Left, EVERYONE – legal, illegal, literate, sub-literate, male, female, other, etc. is entitled to a college education, on the tax payers’ dime, if necessary. Affirmative action, state scholarships for illegal aliens, racial quotas, speech codes, stifling of all dissent on campus – the Left. The sorry state of education in America is a direct result of a massive amount of social engineering, created by and promulgated with maniacal zeal by the Left. A college education is now another manufactured “right”, about which the Left bleats daily.

          “College administrators collecting six-figure salaries while paying coaches seven figures…” is the epitome of the Left’s elitism and avarice. Once again, are most of the college administrators collecting these said six-figure salaries liberals or conservatives? Be honest, FG. It’s the sheer numbers of the administrative bloat (liberals all) that have served to push the tuition rates into the stratosphere.

          As for paying coaches seven figures, from where do you think all the money comes to maintain all the Title IX mandated sports teams, like women’s golf and field hockey, hmmm? And even there, a number of coaches making seven figures is a few dozen nationwide, at most. A case can be made for de-emphasizing college athletics, but that means that thousands of athletic scholarships for minority and women athletes will have to be eliminated. How do you think the Left will react to that?

          • FriendlyGoat

            If all the sports coach salaries at all colleges were capped at some reasonable number—–say $200,000——athletics would go right on.
            No one would stop watching or paying money into the enterprise of college ball. We should be profoundly embarrassed that those “few dozen” you mention happen to be the highest-paid public employees in the nation—-bar none. Presidents, Congress, cabinet secretaries, governors, generals—–their responsibilities just don’t hold a candle to coaching football or basketball. That’s the present-day USA way!

            You would have us believe liberals like it this way. We don’t. We think it’s nuts and mostly a product of not having income tax rates which would prevent this kind of excess—-as they once did when much higher.

          • Boritz

            Can we cap your posts to some reasonable number —– say 2 per week —–?    Just kidding.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Everyone needs a loony leftie. I’m yours.

    • JR

      Riiight, it is all those conservatives that dominate all levels of our public universities that caused the administrative bloat. WE should get another diversity coordinator hired and pay Hillary Clinton $250,000 for 30 minute speech about the dangers of student debt…

  • J K Brown

    Welcome to State-strangled enterprise. Or I guess the more kindly government-guided enterprise. The university was instrumental in providing the arguments for clasping the hands of the state around the throat of business, but seemingly thought they would never feel the pressure the commisar’s fingers around their throat.

    Sixty years behind, but the university made its bed and should now lie in it.

    And observation from 1950:
    “Is the big and successful corporation its own master, then? Not quite.

    To begin with, it is severely circumscribed by the government. as Professor Sumner H. Slichter has said, one of the basic changes which have taken place in America during the last fifty years [1900-1950] is “the transformation of the economy form one of free enterprise to one of government guided enterprise….The new economy,” says Dr. Slichter, “operates on the principle that fundamental decisions on who has what incomes, what is produced, and at what prices it s sold are determined by public policies.” The government interferes with the course of prices by putting a floor under some, a ceiling over others; it regulates in numerous ways how goods may be advertised and sold, what businesses a corporation may be allowed to buy into, and how employees may be paid; in some states with Fair Employment laws it even has a say about who may be hired. “When a piece of business comes up,’ writes Ed Tyng, “the first question is not likely to be ‘Should we do it?’ but ‘Can we do it, under existing rules and regulations?’ “He is writing about banking, but what he says hold good for many another business. Furthermore, in the collection of corporate income taxes, withholding taxes, social security taxes, and other levies the government imposes upon the corporation an intricate series of bookkeeping tasks which in some cases may be as onerous as those it must undertake on its own behalf. Thus the choices of enterprise are both hedged in and complicated by government.”

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “If universities became “more corporate” in the sense that they were actually able to manage their own harassment policies, rein in inefficient administrators, and compete with one another in a truly competitive market, campus political culture might get healthier in some ways.”

    I’m glad to see that Via Meadia agrees with my position that: “It is the “Feedback of Competition” that provides both the information and motivation which forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in free markets”.

    • question?

      which has been absent in higher education up till now.

  • Fat_Man

    Your story of administrative empowerment has some plausibility, but I think there at least 2 questions you need to address.

    First, student activism is not new, but in the US it dates back into the 1960s, long before the explosion of administrators on campus. And even then, it was common for spineless administrators and faculty to cave in to ridiculous demands. The template for this was the Cornell black power take over of the late 1960s.

    Second, it makes an enormous difference that the Academic community is so solidly leftist. The administrators, even if they want to leverage the SJWs, have no ability to understand when the students are being childish, and no ability to stop them before they embarrass the University, and cost it great deal politically.

    If you expect the government to give you a lot of money without accountability, you need a lot of public goodwill. The universities may be on thin ice here.

  • question?

    It is not corporate, it is cronyism and patronage straight out of Boss Daley’s playbook. The only difference, is the bare knuckle politics is wearing white gloves.

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