Books -- Academic Socialism: Merit and Morale in Higher Education by Michael J. Bugeja

Article excerpt

Bugeja, Michael J. (1994) Academic Socialism: Merit and Morale in Higher Education. Alexandria, Va.: Orchises Press. 166 pp. Hardback, $22.95.

This book offers yet another take on what ails American higher education. Its author, Michael Bugeja, a journalism professor who worked as a reporter and editor for United Press International before moving to academe in 1979, argues that absence of administrative accountability and inadequate merit systems are primary contributors to the low productivity and morale of faculty on many American college campuses. A climate of "academic socialism" makes administrators' jobs easier by allowing them to treat everyone equally rather than to reward good professors and to do what's necessary with bad professors.

Bugeja's opinions about the causes of and remedies for this problem have evolved over time, and although his essay, "Academic Socialism" was published in 1992, he wanted to gather some quantitative data to test his qualitative assumptions and, hopefully, find evidence for redefining the boundaries of the educational reform debate begun in 1987 by E. D. Hirsch Jr. and Allan Bloom.

He developed a 10-item survey questionnaire to assess perceptions about the need for improvement in the current education system and about various issues concerning business and higher education. Respondents were also encouraged to write additional comments about issues covered or not covered on the survey. Purposive samples of 200 business leaders, 200 individuals in various professorial ranks within education, and 50 (one for each state) governor's higher education aides received the survey. Forty-nine business leaders, 83 educators, and 22 governor's aides responded. The most interesting results are actually found in the educators' free responses, which illuminate the disenchantment smothering many educators, administrators, and students on today's campuses. …