Friday, 15 July 2011

"Administrative blight" plagues universities

Who would have guessed?

This news is comes via Mark Perry writing at the Carpe Diem blog. He says,
Inside Higher Ed reports today on a new book "The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters" (Oxford University Press), by Benjamin Ginsberg, Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.

Professor Ginsberg "takes stock of what ails higher education and finds a single, unifying cause: the growth of administration." Here are some excerpts of the review:

"Ginsberg bemoans the expansion over the past 30 years of what he calls "administrative blight" as personified by what he characterizes as an army of "deanlets" and "deanlings." By virtue of their sheer number and their managerial rather than academic orientation, Ginsberg argues, these administrators have served to marginalize the faculty in carrying out tasks related to personnel and curriculum that once sat squarely in their domain."
"The larger result, he [Ginsberg] argues, is that universities have shifted their resources and attention away from teaching and research in order to feed a cadre of administrators who, he says, do little to advance the central mission of universities and serve chiefly to inflate their own sense of importance by increasing the number of people who report to them."

"Armies of staffers pose a threat by their very existence," he wrote. "They may seem harmless enough at their tiresome meetings but if they fall into the wrong hands, deanlets can become instruments of administrative imperialism and academic destruction."
The review also says,
"Ginsberg lays at administrators’ feet a host of perceived ills: the increased curricular focus on vocational education instead of one grounded in the liberal arts; an emphasis on learning outside the classroom in lieu of core academic disciplines; the transformation of research from an instrument of social good and contributor to human knowledge to an institutional revenue stream; and the limiting of tenure and academic freedom."
But may be the best comment in the review is,
"Generally speaking," he [Ginsberg] writes, "a million-dollar president could be kidnapped by space aliens and it would be weeks or even months before his or her absence from campus was noticed.”
There is an interesting question and answer section with Ginsberg at the bottom of the review. Well worth a read.

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