Review of “The Fall of the Faculty” – meddle management

As one who resigned a tenured faculty position last year in order to devote fulltime to my current web publishing (and related) efforts, I enjoyed Carl Elliott’s review in the Wall Street Journal of the book, “The Fall of the Faculty.”

Fall of Faculty book cover.jpgElliott writes that author Benjamin Ginsberg…

“…argues that universities have degenerated into poorly managed pseudo-corporations controlled by bureaucrats so far removed from research and teaching that they have barely any idea what these activities involve. He attacks virtually everyone–from overpaid presidents and provosts down through development officers, communications specialists and human-resource staffers–but he reserves his most bitter scorn for the midlevel “associate deans” and “assistant deans” who often have the most direct control over the faculty. Mr. Ginsberg refers to them as “deanlets,” but at my institution they are often called “ass. deans.”

This enormous investment in administrators has not translated into a better college education. As administrative numbers have ballooned, teaching has been turned over to the academic equivalent of temp workers–low-paid adjunct professors who must often travel long distances between campuses and who are employed on short-term contracts without benefits. In the 1970s, 67% of faculty members were tenured or tenure-track appointees; today that figure is a mere 30%. Administrators prefer adjuncts not just because they are cheap but because they are less likely to resist administrative overreach.”

As difficult as it may be to relive some of the memories, I think I need to buy and read Ginsberg’s book. Those who sign huge checks for college tuition may want to as well.

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