Whose University Is It Anyway?

The principles of collegial governance and joint decision-making are still on the books, but they are no longer what the institution is about or how it works. His work has appeared in The Walrus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and L’Obs, as well as in a variety of scholarly journals. [14] Op. [10] “Have Canadian Universities Lost Their Way? The extent of our new barbarism becomes immediately apparent in the contrast and it’s quite a shock, and this without even claiming that Kennedy and Nixon were themselves in any way high-water marks of political culture. According to Sarewitz, modern academic “science isn’t self-correcting, it’s self-destructing.”
Contrary to this type of research there is what John Polanyi calls “fundamental science.” [22] Fundamental science is not coerced or coercive, nor is it obsessed with short-term results. [37] Ibid. They seek to “streamline” economic, political, and educational systems by removing expertise and content management from their operation, not by improving them. cit. Just a thinly veiled threat that if he didn’t watch out he’d find himself at the bottom of the academic East River. Finally, you must drop the childish and short-sighted sidelining of sciences and humanities not obviously related to your commercial interests. They are all disappearing for the simple reason that students are no longer in universities to study or to know anything; they are being observed and known. But not always. Concede defeat and quit? Personally, I’m less strident than the activists but more active than the pessimists. Professors were deeply accountable, but in a sense that went far beyond the reach, ambition, and perhaps even the interests of the administrative caste — they were accountable to discover and then to tell the truth, and to encourage their students to do the same. They were, in this sense, stewards of the sacred space, not its rulers. [7] “UPEI settles sexual harassment complaints,” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/upei-settles-sexual-harassment-complaints-1.1323425. But they are a price worth paying for the greatness we may yet discover and cultivate. [7] No reason to pause there? [27] Alan Findlayson, op. In other words, only things you can quantify and none of which require judgment. [19] Martin Hicks and Linda Jonker, “Still Worth It After All These Years,” Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, January 6, 2015, http://www.heqco.ca/en-ca/Research/ResPub/Pages/Still-Worth-It-After-All-These-Years.aspx. Nothing less than Shakespeare, Woolf, and Tolkien will do if we’re going to save our children. [5] Rosanna Tamburri, “Why grooming the next line of university presidents matters more than ever.”
[6] “Amit Chakma, Western University president, earned $924K last year,” CBC News Toronto, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/amit-chakma-western-university-president-earned-924k-last-year-1.3012070. Some of us are forced to it, and some of us go to it willingly, whether for money or power or through a lack of imagination as to what it all means. [16] This isn’t support any longer; it’s a coup d’état, one that students have been bamboozled into paying for. You like that too, right? Humanities education is necessary only if you wish to be human. What image do we find there? [19] All the celebrations of ever-increasing achievement, all the new programming about culture and communication and learning, all the technological systems and improvements to student facilities and services are merely cover for this brutal calculation. Western capitalist societies have come into an inheritance in this respect. [24] Alan Finlayson, “Brexitism,” The London Review of Books, Volume 39, no. We now have intellectual philistines settling the matter of what our children need to know. Pandering and cell phone distraction just won’t cut it. 10, May 18, 2017. Even an arguably lopsided obsession with technology such as ours does not by itself entail the denigration and elimination of other forms of inquiry. From 1991 to 2016 Canadian post-secondary tuition fees increased a whopping 263 percent. [12] Student debt grew apace. Its objects range from a unified field theory to epigenetics to the biophysical life-world of plants. They were responsible to ensure the activities of students and professors were not interfered with and to manage the institution’s financial affairs. My emphasis. Why do calls for austerity and downsizing apply to everyone except these people? One exception to this grim story is how elites educate their own children. https://dataethics.eu/en/humanism-dataism-future-scenario/. If you want great universities, find these great people and let them do what they want, and get the things that prevent them from doing so out of their way, yourselves first of all. But the CBC didn’t mention that. There may be internecine conflicts over turf and authority within the ruling elite, and there may be different levels of decorum required in executing the mandate depending on the pedigree of the institution and the sophistication of its market. Let’s just call it the price of progress and our overwhelming economic and military dominance. [11] Richard Arum & Josipa Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011). This colleague has become so morally troubled by his work in the all-administrative university that he is seeking employment elsewhere. But as for fundamentals, everyone understands and agrees about the path to be taken: administrators are free to govern the university in whatever way they see fit so long as the mandate is furthered. A mechanism was therefore introduced to ensure this judgment was reached before the university committed to a faculty member permanently. They’re realists, so they want their children to be successful now, in the world and university as they are. http://www.academica.ca/blog/part-time-faculty-what-we-know-and-what-we-don’t. Which means that all discussion of foundational questions is denied. Now they’ve got a horse in the race and are using their considerable influence to ensure students dutifully assume their places in front of the screen, pressing the appropriate buttons, whether to refine the system or to further the plunder of its denizens. And ditto for science. Post-bureaucrats are anti-administrative administrators. Since human beings are merely algorithms that can be altered and superseded at will, the technological world promised by our contemporary prophets is much cleaner and efficient than our own — and much more inhuman. It wasn’t long before he was summoned by the president, who informed him that he was naïve to think his university email account was not “transparent” to his “managers.” End of meeting. “Student success becomes an institutional priority when leaders make it so.” “Presidents, deans, provosts” — these are the people who determine the culture of the institution. By the time a society reaches its prime, it has the university it deserves. But not the administrators, who at the same time that faculty have been decimated have grown exponentially both in number and proportion of budget. How have they done with the public trust since having assumed control of the university? As long as the university was primarily about what scholars did — teaching and research in the sciences and humanities — scholars themselves were the ones best suited to administer its activities. [29] Research Matter, Game-Changers, Ontario Council on University Research, http://yourontarioresearch.ca/game-changers/. Some of us have spoken up without any protection at all, and have paid dearly for it. Perhaps it is still so. Structures to assess the soundness of academic programs already exist within the university. Bibliometrics tend to equate quantity with quality. But what happened when the donor became “unhappy” with the university and the center it had supported? You like the perks — the world travel, the cell phones, the cheap sweatshop clothes, Netflix and the other opiates, the general comfort? ¤
[1] Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press, 2011). But the persistence of traditional structures and language has led some to think that the fight over the institution is now just beginning. Otherwise, how can we be sure about you? We wanted to because the things we acquired through this new arrangement matter more to us than the things we gave away or lost. The short answer to this question is that we wanted to. We are very bold these days. Finally, in 2012, Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary, was receiving “significant remuneration” from Enbridge, one of the University’s corporate donors, while also collecting her salary from the U of C. To the question “How much are students actually learning in contemporary higher education?” Arum and Roksa reply flatly: “not much.” [11]
The scandal of the diminished condition of our students is only exacerbated by the fact that ever more money is being extorted from them to pay for it. The revolution is over and the administrators have won. Maclean’s has been tracking the numbers over the past few years, and they are truly shocking. And why would we do so knowing this new caste is hierarchical and managerial by nature and thus lacks the checks and balances of collegial governance that were created precisely to safeguard the university from just this type of administrative encroachment? And this is not to “understand” them in the sense of knowing who they are so as to help them to flourish. Freedom of speech is granted only within the mandate, not to speech about the mandate. This explains in part their metastatic growth within the institution. Though there’s been some decline in recent years, universities still tend to be full of a lot of very smart people who genuinely love their students and know their fields of study. The belief we can continue reaping the economic and technological benefits of that barbarism while pasting some “soft skills” and some “social and emotional learning” on top of the existential mess we’ve made of our kids simply isn’t going to work. If you don’t want to do that, but wish rather to discontinue programs you’ve judged unwanted on other grounds, then you’re going to need different metrics. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/upei-settles-sexual-harassment-complaints-1.1323425. Josh Dehaas, “Saskatchewan isn’t the only school doing ‘program prioritization’,” Maclean’s, May 22, 2014. A president merely using her economic and social capital to benefit her institution. No more “hegemonizing” authorities (professors) trying to persuade or inform you; no more criticism or even “critical thinking”; and no more Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) curriculum as preparation for public life. Jacob Serebrin. If you’d simply drop the facade we might be able to get somewhere. That universities are reproducing the worse economic excesses of the culture is one important indication of how far they’ve strayed from their true mandate. [8] “UPEI settles sexual harassment complaints,” CBC News, July 11, 2013. To the willing participants, I have nothing more to say, and in any event, I imagine you stopped reading long ago, or have continued only for the sake of strategy. [15] Where is all the money going? 4–40. We’ll give them a certain technical education (more about that in a moment). But at the very least it requires “playing the game,” which in biomedical research, for instance, is said to cost taxpayers and governments $28 billion per year in “unreproducible” results. There it is all about real human contact, free conversation, and tactile, intellectual, and emotional engagement. No promise to teach you history or politics or biology or to make you wise or thoughtful or prudent. Then we can act as we see fit, though without any illusions about consequences. “New policy directions,” “program prioritization,” and “restructuring initiatives” rather than cleats and elbows are the preferred methods for taking care of critics. It is also true that boards may on occasion terminate a president, though it is difficult to know the real reasons for these dismissals due to the inevitable non-disclosure agreements. [34] It is now the dominant power on campus. As one Canadian university president I know said to a colleague who had expressed an interest in Montesquieu’s political thought, “Why study him? There is more than a little irony in this test. Liberal arts and science programs are quietly being transmogrified through pressure from technology and technological modes of education so that their “content” is increasingly merely an occasion for the delivery of what the university truly desires — well-adjusted, administratively minded people to populate the administrative world we’ve created for them. What we will do for you is ensure our credential affords you an adequate seat at the economic table that will get you your fair share of the plunder. ¤
I’d like to conclude by addressing our university administrators directly. As with most revolutions, open conflict occurs only after real power has already changed hands. If not, then some other type of formation will be required. Let one stand for them all. The children of the wealthy and powerful are not reading half-page op-eds for their weekly course content and then pressing a clicker to indicate whether they like it or not; they’re reading Plato’s Republic, Machiavelli’s Prince, and Arendt’s Totalitarianism with uncompromising faculty and engaged colleagues in order to reach some understanding of our human condition. Cit. Safety, comfort, security, quality services, first-class accommodations, guaranteed high grades, institutional brand, better job placements, the market value of the credential — these are the things one hears students demanding these days, not truth, justice, and intelligence. So what’s to do? A Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) investigation of the matter summarizes the situation this way:
[S]enior U of C officials were more concerned about procuring corporate donors and “leveraging opportunities” than defending and modeling academic integrity and administrative transparency. The administrators who protested so vociferously the lack of accountability of professors have now assumed the position themselves. The best people tend to subordinate low personal interests like career advancement and wealth to substantial concerns like meaningful work, the integrity of their institutions, and the well-being of its constituents. But not exclusively. My own proposal is thus old-fashioned but also mildly seditious: I suggest we think about this change in the university in order to reach some understanding of what it means. http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/mcmaster-president-to-get-nearly-14-million-after-retirement/. [41] Trevor Howell, “Compensation of Alberta’s Top University and College Execs Reignites Calls for Review,” The Calgary Herald, January 13, 2015. [3]
Ask about virtually any problem in the university today and the solution proposed will inevitably be administrative. Nowhere, if the modern administrative university has its way. Another reason for the decline is more ideologically driven and more calculating. In the post-bureaucratic world of big data no one is concerned to educate students in the traditional sense because that type of knowledge is no longer what guides decisions, and university administrators know it. And since the whole world panders to students in order to extract from them a portion of their considerable resources, why resist the flow? http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/top-10-highest-paid-university-officials-in-canada/. http://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/grooming-the-next-line-of-university-presidents/. And because the administrative university is a zero-sum game, there is a reverse side to the mandate: fewer tenured faculty, less faculty control over curricula, fewer humanities and pure science programs, less support for humanities and pure science research, and the erosion of collegial governance. And they insist on being paid accordingly. This is not good for you or the university. [18]
So why do they and their parents keep paying when the substantial return on investment is so negligible? com/2016/08/10/analysis/teachers-investigate-whether-university-calgary-bed-big-oil. It’s a highly problematic measure for a variety of reasons, but that’s not the point of story. Jamie Brownlee. A report from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University on media coverage of the 2016 US National Conventions found that public discussion of policy issues was vanishingly small when compared to polling, scandal, and other campaign matters. Hence Plato’s warning: Never give rule to someone who wants it, only to one who does not. This is a mistake. But when word does get out and criticism comes, the excessive compensation is usually justified in two ways. He’s dead.” So much for history. ¤
Ron Srigley is a writer. If you think I exaggerate, consider the deliverables universities are forever touting to students today: “collaboration,” “communication,” “critical analysis,” “impact.” All abstract nouns indicating things you can do or have, but not a word about what you know or who you are. The faculty have “fallen,” to use Benjamin Ginsberg’s term. In 1990, the average Canadian university student owed roughly $8,000 upon graduation [13]; by 2016, that number had risen to over $28,000, [14] and there is evidence that the real number is even higher once private and provincial loans are added to the calculation. Why throw it out and open up our institutions of higher learning to the very forms of coercion we so actively fought to resist when we founded them? Instead, scientists are incentivised to be productive and innovative.” [23]
Insight in science, as in any other discipline, requires leisure and a free mind. And they were, stated in this way, which is why they were removed from university governance and academic decision-making. That was back when the world was a place full of things with natures that had to be contended with, not a virtual space or “internet of things” comprised of data and manufactured objects open to endless manipulation. Some of these agendas will be set by the professional bodies and accrediting organizations, while others will be set by individual learning interests, passions and commitments. [28]
The one bit of genuine achievement in this otherwise grim accounting of the university curriculum is technology. There is no serious debate about this mandate among the key players in the university administrative hierarchy, so the assertion that administrators are accountable to it in the way they insist faculty must be is a red herring. [17] What this system produces isn’t robust citizens and thoughtful human beings. Well, let’s take them at their word and hold them accountable. You can’t expect empathy with your difficulties when you have parachute clauses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and pensions, sometimes even two, that stagger the imagination. [47] If you’re in this for real, then you’ll have to act like it. [15] Pam Davies, “As student debt climbs to an average past $25K, schools invest in battling the mental-health issues it causes,” National Post, May 30, 2016, http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/as-student-debt-climbs-to-an-average-past-25k-schools-invest-in-battling-the-mental-health-issues-it-causes/wcm/d6a4e21c-44d1-4455-8802-fa0b69f38b49. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [25] Thomas E. I have friends who teach in such schools and they tell me the decline there too is now “irreversible.” But as Dante taught us, hell is not a single place. It has circles that run from the comparatively delightful home of the philosophers and writers to the darkness of the ninth circle, Cocytus, where the betrayers suffer for their crimes. [2] The traditional language of “professors” and “students” still exists, though “service provider” and “consumer” are making serious bids to replace them.  
University Governance
Not all corporations act thuggishly; nor do all universities, which now behave like corporations. Together with this administrative take-over came the creation of an artificial crisis of confidence in universities, an attack on their effectiveness and relevance to the culture that would push the federal government to claw back transfer payments to the tune of almost 50 percent, thus forcing the institution to seek other sources of revenue. Universities used to help students understand and assess such intellectual and political movements. But if they’re wrong, then human beings aren’t being changed or perfected at all; they’re being destroyed, first by being treated like machines and second by having their humanity systematically neglected. Because we think administrators, not professors, guarantee the quality of the product and the achievement of institutional goals. One of the most significant changes initiated in Canadian universities by the new administrative caste is precisely a reversal of traditional roles of accountability. Students provided some of the revenue, but most of it came through partnerships with private corporations. It doesn’t even create genuinely skilled people because excellence of any kind requires real intellectual freedom, vibrant classrooms, and serious attention to the object of study. One reason for the negligence is simple corruption. Would you want to send your children to this place? We don’t mind if you become illiterate. And yet the barbarity of the culture and universities is not lost on them. No problem. As to the matter of violations, how egregious must they be? And the takeaway numbers regarding the university’s role in the decline are shocking: 45 percent of students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during the first two years of college, and 36 percent “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” after four years of college. The former view is classical, the latter that of Silicon Valley dataists and transhumanists for whom human beings are themselves merely “obsolete algorithms” soon to be replaced by synthetic ones far superior to them in every way. [31]
The humanities and sciences traditionally understood are both opposed to the latter view, which is why they are being marginalized or eliminated from the university curriculum. All the voices of protest, many of them beautiful and insightful, all of them noble, are either cries of the vanquished or merely a dogged determination to take the losing case to court. [35] “Part-time Faculty: What We Know, and What We Don’t” Academica Group, February 25, 2015. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/canada-cant-afford-to-lose-a-generation-of-top-research-talent/article34847865/. Young people aren’t doing very well these days. Finlayson: “In the emergent system of communication and information” power instead “rests on the ability to read the ebbs and flows of mood and opinion so as to anticipate what is coming, find a wave that it is useful to amplify, and capitalise on the temporary force and intensity of numbers.” [27] Humanities education is vanishing from the academy because what we want from students is no longer their insight or character, but merely an electronic footprint of their most immediate and unconsidered desires from which to craft a custom consumer world for them to inhabit. Mental health numbers are off the charts for a generation of kids that has effectively been raised and educated by screens. Regardless of one’s thoughts about education or the direction the university should take, the assumption that a single, corporate-minded CEO surrounded by staffers and other administrators, not colleagues, is better positioned to understand and serve the institution’s interests is a rather extraordinary one. In management circles there is a movement afoot called “post-bureaucratism,” which takes its inspiration from the big data analytics and real-time monitoring of Silicon Valley. As to the former, Glen Jones, dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, recently suggested in an interview with University Affairs that one of the main sources of tension is that presidents are not free to act as quickly as their boards might wish because of the “limitations to the office.” For Jones those limitations are the inability of university presidents to “fire people” and make changes to “staff and funding” due to the existence of things like “tenure” and “collective agreements.” [5] Jones says boards must keep these things in mind in order to assess presidents’ performances “reasonably and fairly,” but I think the accommodation is going the other way: Canadian universities have been very creative in suppressing if not eliminating entirely the vestiges of collegial governance and the traditional restraints on corporate and market influences in the academy. Even more telling perhaps, students themselves increasingly resemble administrators more than professors in their ambitions and needs. Or as David Layzell, fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, said to the National Observer when asked about the administrative culture at the University of Calgary: “‘I really don’t feel that I can talk with you about this.’ He added: ‘Maybe that says more than us actually talking’.” [39]
In the story I do share, identities have been concealed to protect the innocent. The National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), all began to rejigger their funding guidelines to require that research serve and in many cases be tied explicitly to business and industry partners. Sarewitz’s article is a compelling and exhaustive discussion of the state of modern science. Beyond this free and open institutions and people are more interesting and creative. You can have all the technology you want to be competitive. It’s an “all-administrative” institution now. [1] Spending on administrators and administration exceeds spending on faculty, administrators out-number faculty by a long shot, and administrative salaries and benefit packages, particularly those of presidents and other senior managers, have skyrocketed over the last 10 years. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/opinion/09lanier.html. And so are students, and so are their families, and so are the corporations and industries we all patronize. The latent assumption in all this is that what is truly important is not what students know or how intelligent they are, but how well and how often they perform and how finely we measure it. He was fired, stripped of tenure, and frog marched off the campus for what, in the real world, should have been an entirely benign and even welcome act — criticizing an administrative restructuring plan. Just skills training to equip you to perform optimally in a competitive, innovative world. It’s your choice. [37]
The fall of the faculty was virtually complete. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS […] The money’s rolling in […] It’s a terrible thing to say. As Alan Finlayson describes the ambition in a recent article in the London Review of Books, their politics “doesn’t prize knowledge of society (there is no such thing). Not even the limited political activity of elections, in which the aim is ostensibly to debate rival policies in order to reach some decision about which might be preferable, still exists. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. [21]
To survive in this milieu scientists have to juke the stats. All right then, we have an understanding. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/education/in-college-turmoil-signs-of-a-changed-relationship-with-students.html?_r=0. You have them too, so why wouldn’t we? Who created it and whom does it serve? Why would we deny that freedom to one caste on grounds of potential abuse only to give it to another that lacks the disciplinary context and institutional commitment to ensure it exercises it responsibly? And there are parents too. After roughly 15 years of undergraduate and postgraduate study, and then a long period of careful professional observation and assessment, in most universities lasting five to six years, only those professors who proved themselves worthy were granted tenure and allowed to continue their teaching and research in pursuit of this beautiful goal
Administrators, on the other hand, were always held accountable precisely because their responsibilities were administrative in nature and therefore amenable to measurement and regular public audit. To use an admittedly arts-based measure in a decidedly non-arts-based environment, “you shall know them by their fruits.”
Four areas of the all-administrative university stand out for comment: students, the university curriculum, university governance, and administrative salaries. This is an essential distinction and it strikes me that here one must choose. There have been many stories reported of compromised and destroyed careers. Good anecdotal evidence of the trend can be had simply by talking to those who know and love students best — their teachers. By all available metrics, student intellectual performance has declined precipitously as the university administration has ballooned. I don’t mean to be uncharitable, because I understand the cost. In place of genuine scientific knowledge, useful technical applications, and vibrant classrooms, the all-administrative university encourages meaningless scientific hair-splitting, irrelevant findings, technological gimmicks, and research that is frequently unrepeatable and often simply false. These managers were in turn empowered to duplicate themselves within the institution through the appointment of like-minded colleagues and staff. No more lamentation as a substitute for action. A second justification is that if you want talent, you have to pay for it. Allison Hearn & Gus Van Harten, “Report of the CAUT Ad Hoc Investigatory Committee Into the Enbridge Center for Corporate Sustainability at the University of Calgary, October 2017.” https://www.caut.ca/sites/default/files/caut-ahic-report-calgary-enbridge-centre-for-corporate-sustainability_2017-10.pdf. That’s how dangerous the all-administrative university can be. Today, the proportions have almost flipped. Despite the prognostications of the technocrats about our transhuman future, no human society we know of has flourished without serious reflection on what is just and true and beautiful. The second thing we want from you is a little courage. I want to have a good relationship with Enbridge given that Al Monaco is incoming CEO and our grad (and I am on one of their Boards!). Indeed, they desire it because it makes them more robust and their insight more ample. In addition to the waste and the political imprudence, it is simply grotesque that our university leaders now profit so excessively from a public institution dedicated to teaching the young at a time when the young struggle beneath historically unprecedented levels of debt and precariousness. In France, for instance, the bourgeoisie were able to seize control of the regime because in a sense they already had it. In a sense the promise of technological people has always been freedom from the normal mess of human life, with its cycles of birth and death, growth and decay, plenty and want, joy and despair — in short, its deeply troubling and profoundly beautiful imperfection. [32] Classical technology sought to ameliorate those things but not to escape them because human nature was for the ancients insuperable. But whose image is that really? There is nothing wrong with technology per se. These are all plausible responses, some uneasy mixture of which is likely what most of us use each day to survive. Though the types of decline I’ve described have occurred during your tenure at the head of the institution, that doesn’t mean you’re solely responsible for them. The difference between the two is that “technology” is merely a tool used to pursue substantial human ends, whereas technological people abandon human ends in favor of exclusively technological ones. All that remained was to remove professors from their proper sphere of influence — the curriculum — through the introduction of new academic review bodies that, though said to complement existing review committees, were actually designed to replace them. [28] “A 2016 Look At The Future Of Online Learning,” Contact North, https://teachonline.ca/sites/default/files/toolstrends/downloads/2016_look_at_online_learning.pdf. I am indebted to his analysis for this discussion. [31] Pernille Tranberg, “From Humanism to Dataism: A Future Scenario,” Dataethics, April 25, 2017. No more. Chakma himself who responded to Michael Enright’s query about hefty university president salaries by saying “if you want top talent, you have to pay competitive market [sic].” [10] Is this what “top talent” means at these administrative heights? Of course there will be free riders. But there is something wrong with technological people. But how is that possible in an academic environment in which knowledge and understanding are the true goals? [16] Benjamin Ginsberg, “Administrators Ate My Tuition,” Washington Monthly, September/October 2011, https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septoct-2011/administrators-ate-my-tuition/. The world has limits it’s essential for us to understand and respect. At the same time, sponsored research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects connected to industry began to increase substantially. This may not require peddling out-and-out falsehoods, though that too is happening. 9976, p1380, 11 April 2015.http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1/fulltext. It’s the world they live in and have come to expect, after all. [45] “President’s $1.4-million Golden Handshake,” Maclean’s, June 26, 2008. We’re at the point now where we need a serious intellectual and emotional intervention. It paints a deeply troubling picture of dwindling student capacities for analytic thought, complex reasoning, critical reflection, and writing. [40] Jacob Serebrin, “Top 10 Highest Paid University Officials in Canada,” Maclean’s, July 4, 2011. Both are forced to work in a compromised system that kills fundamental science and trivializes technical applications in the name of the administrative (not scientific) principle of productivity. Thus do expectations and demands work themselves through the system from top to bottom, at each level reinforcing the status quo, but also raising wondering little doubts about the whole business and how it may have failed us. You should be promoting both things vigorously, not allowing them to be eroded by cheap intellectual fashion and the myopia of the markets. Patterson, “News Coverage of the 2016 National Conventions: Negative News, Lacking Content,” The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, September 12, 2016. Isn’t the point of good administration that it’s done efficiently and cheaply? No more hand wringing in private about the decline. They’re having trouble speaking, thinking, and making sense of the world. There is no mystery to my unwillingness: these people frighten me. It too is an illusion, however, a bit of corporate sophistry on the part of the money-hungry that’s now made it’s way into the academy. ¤
When it comes to the real mandate of the modern university, boards of governors, government, and industry are all in agreement. Lots of smiling students, lots of talk of “impact” and “innovation,” more than one shovel going into the ground, a host of new community and industry partnerships to celebrate. We have arrived there now in Canada, in the middle age of our regime, well past our youth but not quite to our dotage. A first step in the process was to hire senior managers from outside the local university so boards of governors could vet them for agreement with the new corporate ethos. Unfortunately, the natural world is not nearly so forthcoming with its “products” as the administrators would like and appears to operate according to a different schedule from their own in offering up its insights. Of the mediated settlements it wrote: it did not “necessarily mean the complaints were found to have merit.” [8] Of course, neither does a mediated settlement mean the complaints were found not to have merit. This is why traditional humanities programs have always encouraged humility, reflection, and wisdom. Cannon to Len Waverman, dean of the Haskayne School of Business at U of C:
Enbridge is not very happy […] We need content and strategic leadership and that is what Enbridge is looking for. But if you allow it to co-opt everything, you’re going to destroy the kids. University presidents having trouble “transitioning” to their new positions? At times, they used threats or intimidation in an effort to keep Enbridge happy […] We have a distinct impression — based on the email record, multiple interviews, and media coverage — that there is a culture of silencing, and at worst intimidation or reprisals, at the U of C. If you think I overstate the consequences of this erosion of the university curriculum, consider the 2016 US presidential debates as barometers of the culture. Another thing we insist on is the return of real freedom and debate about fundamental questions. [46] “U of Calgary President Eligible for $4.5M Pension,” CBC News, September 21, 2009. Or in the contemporary ed-speak of Contact North, an Ontario distance education network:
The shift from institutionally determined programs to skills and competency-based programs determined by labour market needs or individual learner preferences will reduce the reliance on formalized program structures and increase the ability of learners to mix and match their learning activities against their learning agenda. This list is far from comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start. And then there are pressures from below. This was Chakma’s defense of his own extraordinary compensation. This doesn’t mean they were free without qualification, of course. What sort of education do you expect they’d get? The first thing faculty expect from you is some honesty about the situation. Just marketing, algorithms, and fun. But they are not opposed to the former. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/u-of-calgary-president-eligible-for-4-5m-pension-1.850905. Without putting too fine a point on it, it’s because they aren’t the true goals any longer. That’s not good enough anymore. Trump’s legislative agenda received more attention than Clinton’s — 13 percent opposed to 4 percent — but the report makes it clear that this was not because of the “content” of Trump’s campaign so much as the fact that Trump made for better TV. [25] Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, understood what it meant. [3] Rosanna Tamburri, “Why grooming the next line of university presidents matters more than ever” University Affairs, August 3, 2016. [34] Ginsberg, 2011. So much for political wisdom. The recent proliferation of books, essays, and manifestoes critiquing this takeover creates the impression that the battle is now on. My guess is most university scientists would prefer to do fundamental research if only they were given the choice. http://www.macleans.ca/education/university/saskatchewan-isnt-only-school-doing-program-prioritization/
[39] Christopher Adams, “Teachers Investigate whether University of Calgary is in bed with Big Oil,” National Observer, August 10, 2016.https://www.nationalobserver. But we’ll make sure they don’t think about it too much, and we’ll keep them busy and teach them, along with the whole culture, to fear silence, delight, boredom, and unhappiness and the rest of what Dennis Lee calls the “ache of the real.” Instead we’ll stuff our classes full of cell phones and laptops and bells and game-show-style quizzes so they wouldn’t be able to recognize a real experience if they had one (and they do … all the time). And why is that? [47] Teresa Wright, [“Premier Wade MacLauchlan file disclosures,” Journal Pioneer, April 14, 2015, http://www.journalpioneer.com/news/local/premier-maclauchlan-files-disclosures-55681/. He is author of Albert Camus’s Critique of Modernity and translator of Albert Camus’s Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism. Like Trump and the Brexiters, they pose as caring populists fighting against establishment professionals, but they’re not. [21] Daniel Sarewitz, “Saving Science,” The New Atlantis, Number 49, Spring/Summer 2016, pp. Rigor is difficult and unpopular; pandering is easy and pleasant. [12] Jamie Brownless, “The Role of Governments in Corporatizing Canadian Universities,” Academic Matters, January 2016, http://academicmatters.ca/2016/01/the-role-of-governments-in-corporatizing-canadian-universities/. Daniel Sarewitz cites Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, to indicate shape and extent of the crisis:
[M]uch of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. What it produces instead are obedient, docile “workers” concerned almost exclusively with their survival and largely unaware of the forces that shape their world and actively encourage them to accept it as “the way things are” rather than as someone’s decision or choice, though there may be evidence of a growing disaffection with the role in recent protests on campus. Then we saddle them with a stifling debt that only further diminishes the likelihood they’ll exercise these capacities fully, particularly when assessing their universities, because most of their time will be spent just trying to get a foothold in that world. So great is the administrative pressure to produce “results” that scientists are driven to such tactics merely to survive. Students come to us today ravaged by the irresponsible exploitation of their deepest desires and needs by the economic and technological elites of our world. Former president of Dalhousie University, Tom Traves, received $1.3 million in compensation in the three years following his retirement in 2013. [44] Peter George netted $1.4 million after leaving his position at McMaster University, $99,999 annually, or one dollar less than the salary limit prescribed by the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act (PSDA) so McMaster wouldn’t have to reveal the amount publicly. [45] And this doesn’t include the tens of thousands of dollars George received in additional compensation for insurance, health care, car allowance, and travel — all after he’d resigned! In the traditional world education was necessary to form character and deepen insight so people would be able to act thoughtfully in relation to one another and the world. [33] Jaron Lanier, “The First Church of Robotics,” The New York Times, August 9, 2010. We’ve not merely ignored this warning but built a system that actively encourages its opposite. So while it is true that we’re all responsible for the decline, we’re not all equally responsible for it, and not all in the same way. What makes this sort of thuggishness possible in an institution ostensibly devoted to inquiry and free debate? But the all-administrative university hates silence and reflection and wants students fast and pliable and efficient. No discussion, no context, no actual accusation, and no reprimand. What happens instead? In the contemporary university these roles have been reversed. Today scientists are forced by administrators and government funding bodies to produce new, exciting research with immediate economic benefits. The university in this regard increasing feels like a government in permanent damage control, where nary a word against anything can be spoken and no admission of failure is permitted. The facts are so compromising that universities go to great lengths to conceal such agreements. Friedrich Engels infamously remarked that in a truly communist state “the government of persons” would be replaced by the “administration of things.” The West has done the East one better and achieved its goal without the brutality that was the East’s undoing. Their value to the institution is assumed to be so great that it cannot be measured and cannot be subject to critical assessment. How did this happen? The point is how the administration responded even to a hint of criticism. [38] Chris Herhalt, “U of G prioritization report puts low-scoring programs on alert,” Guelph Mercury Tribune, October 4, 2013. https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/4140165-u-of-g-prioritization-report-puts-low-scoring-programs-on-alert/. Criticism of the all-administrative university is not tolerated in the all-administrative university. And in this instance the “eggs” in question are not negligible. What qualifies administrators to occupy a position of such power? [23] Richard Horton, “Offline: What is Medicine’s Sigma 5? I will be frank and add that they are not seeing your leadership on this file and are feeling that once the funding was committed, the interest from you was lost. Why? In that traditional world, who you were and what you knew mattered. What do we see when we look into the mirror of our universities? According to their formula, humanities and science programs judged to have no demonstrable commercial or popular viability were deemed untenable (“ranked”) and cancelled (“yanked”). [38]
That is how the reorganization worked structurally. Part 2 – Follow the Money” CBC Radio, The Sunday Edition. In Canadian universities, part-time faculty now do 60 percent to 70 percent of the teaching because full-time faculty have been cut so dramatically. [35] Teaching is the core deliverable of the university, yet we don’t mind getting that done on the cheap. Admit the world has changed and join them? The professor wrote to several colleagues suggesting they should raise their concerns about the measure. If you were simply to talk with us honestly about these fundamental issues, instead of harassing, silencing, or firing us for reminding you of them, there is no telling what we might accomplish together and how many new friends you would have standing with you. We stupidify our courses and water down our disciplines to survive. It values the generation and interpretation of facts about individuals’ behaviours and interactions — what they signify or might herald, how to manage and manipulate them.”
The new administrative elites want to mine and control the economic, educational, and social resources of society in order create a state that operates not according to the critical, agonistic spirit of traditional democratic politics but the smooth, frictionless movement of a search engine in which all are affirmed in their private dreams without the slightest question being raised as to the personal and collective meaning of these things. Keep fighting and risk being canned? In 2011, David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo, made $1,041,881. [40] Indira Samarasekera of the University of Alberta had a total compensation package of over $1.1 million in the final year of her contract. [41] Elizabeth Cannon of the University of Calgary and David Turpin of the University of Alberta banked $897,000 and $824,000 respectively during the 2016–’17 academic year. [42] Even presidents at small- and medium-sized universities now routinely receive between $300,000 and $500,000 in compensation, this not including additional forms of remuneration that combined can reach as high as $200,000 per year. [43]
What’s even more troubling is how expensive these people are once they leave their institutions. In the all-administrative university we cheat students of a real, substantial education, the most deleterious consequence of which is the erosion of their ability to speak, think, and write seriously about themselves and their world. [36] The best study of these changes is Jamie Brownlee’s fine book, Academia, Inc.: How Corporatization is transforming Canadian Universities (Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing, 2015). Just some disgruntled women? [17] “Get used to the ‘job churn’ of short-term employment and career changes, Bill Morneau says,” National Post, October 16, 2016,http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/get-used-to-the-job-churn-of-short-term-employment-and-career-changes-bill-morneau-says/wcm/ee7ad4d0-688d-44cb-b3dc-8901377f1bc9. Where in this miasma of deculturation will they ever find an image of a genuine statesperson or citizen or of a truly just human being? https://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-national-conventions/
[26] Eliza Collins, “Les Moonves: Trump’s run is ‘damn good for CBS’,” Politico, February 29, 2016. And to do that, something has to give, and that something is the truth. Administrative authoritarianism is effective in the short term for silencing criticism, but deleterious in the long term and a sign of weakness. Nonetheless, one has the impression they are most often due either to differences in the management of the institution or some particularly egregious violation that could not be managed politically. Faculty members with lots of publications and grants are successful; those with few, or perhaps just fewer, are not. FEBRUARY 22, 2018

TOWARD THE END of his life George Orwell wrote, “By the age of 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” The same is true of societies and their universities.  
The University Curriculum
Evidence has been mounting that the administrative concern with productivity and commercial application has done as much to ruin science as it has the humanities. But that is an illusion, and most writers know it. Now we have 675,000 professors being “supported” by 756,595 administrators and staffers. You do bear responsibility, but as I’ve written elsewhere, my colleagues and I are also to blame. He teaches philosophy and religious studies at Laurentian University and in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Humber College, Toronto. Once the mandate changed to supplying the economy not with “skilled” labor — universities have always done that — but with a certain technically minded human being, scholars were deemed not merely unqualified to execute the mandate, but antithetical to it. [9]
I believe it was Mr. Pretty egregious, as it turns out. What the all-administrative university offers them is not an education but a credential with a market value and ample statistical evidence to demonstrate the necessity of having one if they wish to prosper economically. Assessing their abilities and accomplishments in this regard was a matter of judgment and so could not be quantified; it could be exercised only by those capable of it. Enter the PPP crowd. Yet he is still president of UPEI, even though these charges were brought against him prior to his mid-term review for renewal. Compared to this type of inquiry, a driverless car or a face-recognition cell phone is merely a technological gimmick — expensive to develop, profitable to sell, requiring lots of very smart people to create, and having far-reaching social implications, but in the end offering little real new insight into life apart from how it might be further exploited. The Lancet, Volume 385, No. Strong cultures and institutions, like strong people, can take criticism without crumbling. [6] (If you are a faculty member, just imagine asking your VP Finance to pay you your salary and your sabbatical stipend in the same year.) And in 2012, Alaa Abd-El-Aziz of the University of Prince Edward Island had two separate sexual harassment charges brought against him in a single year, both of which led to formal human rights complaints that ultimately had to be settled through mediation. Why wouldn’t we use all tools at our disposal to develop it, including the university? Robert Buckingham gets hero’s welcome,” CBC News Saskatoon, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/returned-u-of-s-prof-robert-buckingham-gets-hero-s-welcome-1.2650317. But if you want to appreciate the full extent of the horror and understand just how far we’ve fallen, watch the first ever televised presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. The administrators are the mandate. If it requires, say, serially violating collective agreements to assert dominance and set precedent; or creating new review bodies to undermine existing faculty review bodies and then populating them with administrative plants to get the desired results; or tampering, directly and indirectly, with administrative and faculty hiring committees; or cultivating and compromising Faculty Association leadership; or badgering and abusing recalcitrant professors until they quit or can be fired, or buying off critics of the administration through generous funding of their programs and starvation of others — so be it. If you think this decline has nothing to do with the decline of genuine liberal arts education, through which students are taught to think deeply and meaningfully about the real human problems of government, justice and reason, and the rise of the all-administrative university in which they are not, think again. The data is in and all credible sources agree that our students are in trouble and so too is our curriculum. If you rob scientists of these things and instead badger them about productivity and impact, you won’t get insight or even science, but gimmicks and people adept at spinning their importance. Student evaluations and enrollments (i.e., popularity), learning as determined by “rubrics,” quantity of publications, amount of research dollars, extent of social “impact” are the things that count now. The fact that we’ve sidelined them in preference of a small, quite differently motivated group of corporate wannabes is something that stretches one’s credulity. The irrelevance of knowledge and insight for participation in the culture is already plainly visible. Even the local CBC seems to have been willing to help manage appearances. Not so for technological societies such as ours. But not for the administration. “Can bad scientific practices be fixed?” asks Horton. All the terrifying, heartbreaking, and wonderful human rumblings they feel within themselves starve to death in our classrooms. Administrators silence dissent mostly by playing white-collar hardball. Books, curricula, professors, students, dialogue, classes — all antiquated features of the content-driven structure of the old university. Administrators arose from the general faculty, served their terms in office, and then returned to their home departments. Students want things, and they tend to vote with their feet, which can harm you through decreasing enrollments. http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/02/les-moonves-trump-cbs-220001. ¤
The extent of administrative power can be perceived in part in the responses one receives when challenging administrators or even engaging them in constructive, collegial debate. But Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, is the definitive study of the phenomenon. This claim is true in one sense and untrue in another. For Arum and Roksa, one cause of the decline is “lack of rigor.” Students can’t do things they used to be able to do for the simple reason that we no longer insist that they do them. Administrators have been slowly taking control of the institution for decades. So far I’ve written about you; now I want to talk to you. They are the very foundation of our universities — the hard-won principles of collegial and democratic governance, of a dedication to truth, fair play, and reasonable debate, of freedom of thought, and of the long tradition of our collective wisdom that is now being cavalierly dismantled by people who do not have the wit to understand its meaning or significance for our civilization. Instead, they are accountable to administrators, who employ an increasingly wide array of instruments and staff to assess their productivity and measure their performance, all of which are now deemed eminently quantifiable. In the traditional university, professors were “unaccountable.” The university was a sacred space where they were at liberty to pursue with students and colleagues their fields of inquiry without coercion or interference. And the best people generally don’t want power, knowing that power is dangerous both for themselves and others and carries with it far more responsibilities than perks. [22] John Polanyi, “Separating Science from Innovation: And Important Task,” The Globe and Mail, September 29, 2016. But “market values” in this case are other presidents’ salaries, so the argument is a shell game. And no more cooperating with any person or body that wishes to justify and perpetuate the institution’s decline. […] They are looking for success and they are not seeing it. This was in large part the work of the Business Council on National Issues (BCNI) and the Corporate-Higher Education Forum (CHEF), the latter comprised of 25 Canadian CEOs and 25 university presidents. [36] This is the group that would in large part guide the restructuring of the university. [13] Joseph Berger, “Student Debt in Canada” in The Price of Knowledge: Access and Student Finance in Canada, Fourth Edition, The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation (Quebec, 2009), https://library.carleton.ca/sites/default/files/find/data/surveys/pdf_files/Price-of-Knowledge_4th-edition_2009-11_chapter-7_en.pdf. A favorite trope among the administrative castes is accountability. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/silicon-valleys-bonfire-of-the-vainglorious/. The opposite is more likely the case. There is nothing like a scientist’s sober insight into the natural world to calm passions and check ill-considered political ambitions. One such vehicle was the Program Prioritization Process that was making the rounds in Canadian universities a few years ago. There are several reasons for this decline. It is true that university presidents, for instance, are answerable to their boards of governors. The same is true of the modern university. And worst of all for everyone, we ourselves have become intellectually and pedagogically second-rate through our participation in the decline. For a time even the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) — one of the few defenders of serious social scientific and humanities research in the country — fell into line by focusing its funding on “business related degrees.” All the while monies for teaching and research in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences with no obvious connection to industry, which is to say, most of it, began to dry up. [4] “Returned U of S Prof. But as Albert Camus once remarked, the quality of an omelet has nothing to do with how many eggs were broken to make it. The implications for education are staggering, the first of which is the abandonment of its principle aim: “In this world, the people do not need to know and understand things about themselves: they are the things to be known about.” [24]
There is perhaps no clearer explanation of the current emptying of post-secondary education. The all-administrative university produces very good technology — biotechnology, digital technology, environmental technology, all types of technology. [29] And the push is on to get even better at it. [30] Technology is the name of the game in our world, so much so that our global standing and material prosperity depend on it almost exclusively. Administrators are virtually untouchable today. [42] Janet French, “Alberta top university salaries ‘out of line,’ advanced education minister says,” Edmonton Sun, http://www.edmontonsun.com/2017/07/17/
alberta-top-university-salaries-out-of-line-advanced-education-minister-says. What test have they passed that warrants entrusting them with this level of freedom to act? That mandate is well known to all of us who live and work within the non-ivied walls: more industry partnerships, more technology, more STEM subjects, more money for research and development in these areas, more administrative review bodies and measures, more students, more student services, and more student satisfaction. All well and good. We can’t get anywhere if you continue to deny what’s actually happening. It is, I think, simply untrue that the best, most qualified people for leadership roles in the university are also those who insist on lavish salaries. And we don’t even mind if important parts of your humanity wither completely. When you get a little bit further from big academic markets things can get pretty rough, because fewer people are watching and therefore less subtlety is needed in execution. Consider just three examples. But to those with whom that doubt resonates and who feel themselves compromised and betrayed as we do, this is what I’d like to say. Faculty members are the ones who are now accountable, but no longer to their peers and students and no longer regarding mastery of their subjects. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/saving-science. He learned subsequently that his email account hadn’t been compromised at all; he’d simply been betrayed by a fellow-traveling faculty member. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/tom-traves-retirement-package-not-unusual-at-canadian-universities-1.3185501. [44] “Tom Traves retirement package not unusual at Canadian universities,” CBC News, August 10, 2015. Collegial governance is a rule of equals that works by persuasion rather than power and has been the foundation of Canadian university governance for decades. But these packages don’t compare to the one received by Harvey Weingarten, former president of the University of Calgary, who stands to collect as much as $4.75 million in pension monies after serving as president for only eight years. [46] The discovery of Weingarten’s remuneration package came to light just as he was warning the University of Calgary community that up to 200 jobs would have to be cut in an effort to address a budget shortfall of $14 million. [4] The fall of the faculty indeed. [18] Jack Dickey, “The Revolution on America’s Campuses,” Time, May 31, 2016. http://time.com/4347099/college-campus-protests/. In order to do this I propose a test. If you want to assess a program’s quality, they work very well.  
Administrative Salaries
University presidents today think and act like CEOs rather than as leaders of a community of scholars and students. Rather, it aims at genuine insight into the natural world. In 2014, Amit Chakma of the University of Western Ontario collected his salary ($479,600) and his administrative leave stipend ($444,400) without UWO’s Board forcing him to resign. Is this all we really want for our children? Administrators will insist that they are in fact deeply accountable to their institutions’ many stakeholders — the community, industry, the board of governors, and government. Patrick McCray, “Silicon Valley’s Bonfire of the Vainglorious,” Los Angeles Review of Books, July 17, 2017. We are now all happy, efficient, administrative objects producing and functioning within the Western technocratic social organism. Great artists, scientists, and business people are almost always unorthodox in outlook and disposition. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Most parents also want their children to be thoughtful, beautiful, and wise, which are simply not the same as things as credentialed, skilled, and rich. [20] And when it comes to elite universities, things are similarly oriented. The Waldorf School of the Peninsula, which teaches the kids of many who work for Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard, doesn’t allow computers or cell phones or iPads in its K-12 classrooms. It is in those darker interstices of experience that people become human beings worthy of the name and begin their long conversation with the world, from which no one knows what beautiful new insight might emerge. For our part, we juke the stats, we give in to pressures to pass students and make them happy. In the modern university, administrators are the ones who are no longer accountable to anyone and who therefore act without restraint, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. And that was how the university used to function. Better simply to repackage pandering as rigor — e-learning, digital literacies, competency-based programming, personal learning agendas — and simply deny there is a problem. That removal was an undertaking that could not be done nicely. People must be held accountable, they tell us, particularly professors. Administrators having trouble administrating? [2] Frank Bruni, “In College Turmoil, Signs of a Changed Relationship with Students,” The New York Times, June 22, 2016.  
There is no clearer indication of the nature of the all-administrative university than the condition of its primary constituents — students. “Part of the problem is that no one is incentivised to be right. We don’t mind if you can’t read or write. This cohort of the corporate-minded has grown at a rate such that it has outpaced all other university appointments — in the United States a 240 percent increase from 1985 to 2005 compared to a mere 50 percent for faculty. With the exception of certain key science and technology programs in which content proficiency is paramount, administrative efficiency and administrative mindedness are the true goals of the institution. Which means the president was just having a little fun threatening him, while also ensuring that there would be complete silence the next time he and his tribe decided to do the faculty some dirt. If students cannot think, read, or write any longer, it’s because administrators don’t care if they can or can’t. If they haven’t already been broken by cynicism, they quickly learn to their horror that we don’t care about them either. Nonetheless, there has been a significant change in the manner in which the all-administrative university comports itself that is rougher, more centralized, less free, and less democratic than that of the community of scholars and students it replaced. The fact that the all-administrative university no longer cares about these things is not an accident. Robert Buckingham at the University of Saskatchewan knows how it works. And so much for magnanimity and breadth of understanding. [20] Matt Richtel, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute,” The New York Times, Oct 22, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html. ¤
The destruction of the humanities is both similar to and different from that of the sciences. Many people were horrified by the debates, regardless of partisan interests. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/separating-science-from-innovation-an-important-task/article32110983/. The long answer is more difficult to explain, but perhaps it will become clearer as we tally up how administrators have actually done over the past few decades. But bring it on, Donald.” [26]
Thought and criticism belong to a previous dispensation, which is now over. This is going to come back to haunt you, and no doubt already has. And for those more inclined to technical applications, I’d bet they’d rather work toward ends they and their colleagues judge socially and scientifically important rather than forever running on the “innovation” treadmill. The promises are wearing pretty thin: promises of easy money and endless comfort if we only tech up, forget about wisdom, turn science into a circus, stop the criticism, and focus all our energies on big data and algorithms. Our interest is well beyond HSB. Yet we know that once you sign up, you too are pressured — by government, the Board, industry — to get in line with the mandate. http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/compensation-of-albertas-top-university-and-college-execs-reignites-calls-for-review. That happens only when technological ends replace substantial human ends ideologically and economically, as they have in the all-administrative university. As Jaron Lanier says, the reason AI seems human to us is not because machines are becoming more human, but because we are becoming more like machines. [33] Machines are inhumanly fast and efficient precisely because, unlike people, they have no “other.” We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close. After all, that is in both our interests. “For me,” he said, “having a family and a life outside of the academy is increasingly an ethical lifeline.” I can think of no greater condemnation of the all-administrative university, and no more profound betrayal of its fundamental mission — to discover the truth. Selfishness has become socially respectable these days, but hopefully its hold over us does not completely blind us to the ugliness and stupidity of what we’ve done. I have my own, which I won’t share here. And the existential costs are mounting. He gained little support because, he said, most “were petrified of losing their positions.” And so the whole thing petered out. In 1970 in the United States, 268,952 administrators and staffers supported the work of 446,830 full-time professors. Practically, with each successive change in governance, administrators acquired ever-greater power over the institution, a power they quickly used to silence all debate about the change itself. Unlike professors, they must answer to these bodies directly as they govern and promote the interests of their respective institutions. They used to run the place quite well. What we need is a “Transition Committee” — that is to say, more administration — and for them all to be given ever more power in the governance of the institution. [32] W. If this requires some rough play to get the job done, so be it. And to complete the picture of the future we’ve prepared for them, we glibly warn them they better get ready for “job churn” and “precarious employment” and the likelihood of returning to us repeatedly for retooling in order to meet the needs of the ever-changing and omniscient market. If technologists are right and such a world is possible, then the stupidity and decline I’ve described are merely holdovers from our antiquated humanity, soon to disappear into the brightly shining sun of the supreme data set. First through appeals to fairness: presidential salaries must be in line with market values. Administrators control the modern university. [43] Op cit. Argue with an administrator that she may be mistaken about a given policy or practice, say that you and your colleagues have come up with good reasons to reconsider or revise it, and you can prepare yourself for the empty stare, the subsequent conversation-killing nod, and the condescending assurance that your suggestion will be taken under advisement. For us the pressure to do and become these things comes largely from above, which is to say, from you. In place of judgment regarding the quality of their work we now have a variety of “outcomes” used as measures of worth. [9] Drs. [30] Elizabeth Cannon, “Canada Can’t Afford to Lose a Generation of Top Research Talent,” The Globe and Mail, April 28, 2017. A professor I know taught at an American university in which the vice president, Research sought to institute bibliometrics as a performance measure for faculty.