The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters

The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters

The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters

The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters

Synopsis

Until very recently, American universities were led mainly by their faculties, which viewed intellectual production and pedagogy as the core missions of higher education. Today, as Benjamin Ginsberg warns in this eye-opening, controversial book, "deanlets"--administrators and staffers often without serious academic backgrounds or experience--are setting the educational agenda.

The Fall of the Facultyexamines the fallout of rampant administrative blight that now plagues the nation's universities. In the past decade, universities have added layers of administrators and staffers to their payrolls every year even while laying off full-time faculty in increasing numbers--ostensibly because of budget cuts. In a further irony, many of the newly minted--and non-academic--administrators are career managers who downplay the importance of teaching and research, as evidenced by their tireless advocacy for a banal "life skills" curriculum. Consequently, students are denied a more enriching educational experience--one defined by intellectual rigor. Ginsberg also reveals how the legitimate grievances of minority groups and liberal activists, which were traditionally championed by faculty members, have, in the hands of administrators, been reduced to chess pieces in a game of power politics. By embracing initiatives such as affirmative action, the administration gained favor with these groups and legitimized a thinly cloaked gambit to bolster their power over the faculty.

As troubling as this trend has become, there are ways to reverse it.The Fall of the Facultyoutlines how we can revamp the system so that real educators can regain their voice in curriculum policy.

Excerpt

I BEGAN MY ACADEMIC career in 1968 as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, joined the Cornell faculty in 1973 as an assistant professor of government, and moved in 1992 to Johns Hopkins, where I was appointed and remain the David Bernstein Professor in the Department of Political Science. I have always felt fortunate to be associated with great universities where I have been surrounded by excellent colleagues and interesting students. Hence, I was saddened to learn from a recently published study that my own university ranks fourth in the nation in terms of the expansion of administrative and support personnel between 1997 and 2007. This finding, unfortunately, coincides with the personal observations that were among the factors prompting me to write this book.

My book sounds a warning and offers a prescription designed to slow if not halt the spread of administrative blight. The prescribed medication will come too late for some victims, but others may yet recover. That, at least, is my hope.

In writing this book I profited greatly from conversations with a number of my Hopkins colleagues, particularly Matthew A. Crenson and Robert Kargon. I am very grateful to my colleague Steve Teles for recommending the book to Oxford University Press and . . .

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