The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All Administrative University and Why It Matters by Benjamin Ginsberg

The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All Administrative University and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press).
This is a very thoughtful—and confrontational—book by Benjamin Ginsberg, a professor at John Hopkins. His ideas have relevance for not just world famous research universities but for community colleges, state systems, and liberal arts colleges.

Here is a synthesis. Rather than reviewing this book, I will just let it speak for itself.

“The character of the university has changed and not entirely for the better.” It is no longer driven by faculty ideas and concerns. Administration has grown exponentially in the past few decades. “In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every 84 students…By 2005, (there was one for every 58.)”

“Many senior administrators are glib in the manner of politicians. These qualities are sure to impress…corporate headhunters…”

“Administrators and staffers are, in the view of many, if not most, university officials, more important than the school’s students, faculty, classrooms, and laboratories.”

“With fewer deanlets to command, senior administrators would be compelled to turn again to faculty for administrative support. Such a change would result in better programs…”

“Boards should be wary of university administrators who sprout managerial jargon.”

“Through their management speak, administrators are asserting that the university is an institution to be ruled by them.Shared governance, faculty power, tenure, and so forth have no place in management theory.”

Of major interest to me was Ginsberg’s assertion that class mobility is based in large part on the humanities. Technical training, while important, essentially results in a different track for working class students. Without the education received by middle and upper class students, working class students will still be disenfranchised.

Faculty does not get off free either, as the author points to the truth in the sherry sipping idle professor cliche. But in essence, he points out that without faculty there is no teaching, no students, and no education. Unfortunately, his view is no longer the mainstream one.

2 thoughts on “The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All Administrative University and Why It Matters by Benjamin Ginsberg

  1. well this nice man pretty much limns the reasons I left acadimmia back in the ‘nineties. as it became clear that career educators were being displaced by an interchangeable bunch of used-car salesmen with little classroom experience and less interest in the educational program.
    of note: Goddard lead the league early on by simply getting rid of the two most troublesome aspects of higher education: students and faculty. Limit the face-to-face to a couple long “residential weekends” a year, use electronic funds transfer for tuitions, put the faculty on adjunct life-support and my goodness, Mr & Mrs Administrator, if you schedule your out-of-town conferences prudently you’ll never have to lay eyes on a single unwashed soul again.

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