Archive for November 5th, 2013

In times of rampant academic false consciousness, it is no surprise that some people choose to leave academia. Rebecca Shuman at Slate provides a roundup of what she calls “an Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays,” focusing on Zachary Ernst’s “Why I Jumped Off the Ivory Tower.” Some of his reasons involve the corporatization of higher education. As Shuman writes:

His essay has ignited academic Facebook, and may be pilloried by those who find his departing huff to be immature, ungrateful or unprofessional. But even to his detractors, his climactic critique of the “corporatization” of the American university should be unassailable (at least until the end). As has become common in higher education, the University of Missouri system now hires former multinational CEOs as presidents, on the basis of what Ernst criticizes as nebulous and irrelevant “business experience”—but not because Ernst is himself “anti-business.” Rather, he explains, a multinational CEO focuses on “marketing, cutting costs, and improving outcomes that are based on short-term economic measures. This means serving more customers with a smaller number of employees while cutting costs.” This actually makes no business sense in the university world.

I suspect that the hiring of CEOs as university presidents will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, trustees may see the failure of a president/CEO as a sign that a better, more experienced CEO should be hired since the first obviously didn’t have enough business experience to run a university…

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