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Essay: Right and Wrong Ways to Reform the University

Essay: Right and Wrong Ways to Reform the University

“The rise and rise of the academic bureaucracy is the single greatest institutional problem in universities today.”

https://youtu.be/Kf74iow-EAs

John O. McGinnis has some solid ideas here.

He writes at Law & Liberty:

Right and Wrong Ways to Reform the University

Legislatures, however, could do a lot to reform state universities. They should reduce the university bureaucracy in general and particularly the ever-burgeoning bureaucracy devoted to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” They should also eliminate racial and ethnic preferences in universities and prevent subterfuges that introduce preferences with a fig leaf of faux neutrality. These alterations would go a long way to restoring the epistemic openness of universities by reducing the orthodoxy that academic administrators bring and the demand for that bureaucracy that preferences create. Critical race theory, to be sure, would not disappear, but it would lose its basis of institutional support.

The rise and rise of the academic bureaucracy is the single greatest institutional problem in universities today. Just as the rise of business managers—noticed over a half-century ago by James Burnham in The Managerial Revolution—has been essential to woke capital, so have university managers been essential in creating the woke campus. The university bureaucracy is more uniformly left leaning than the faculty, as shown in this study by Samuel Abrams. It is also less talented on average than the faculty. Many, if not most administrators could not get tenure-track jobs despite their ideological compatibility. Finally, it is more removed from the central mission of the university—teaching and research—because university bureaucrats do not engage in those activities. As a result, they are much less likely to preserve epistemic openness. To paraphrase William F. Buckley, I would rather be governed by the first 1000 professors in the university directory than the first 1000 bureaucrats.

Legislatures thus should sharply reduce the funds available for university bureaucrats. To be sure, that would mean that that faculty would have to take up some of the slack of the administration. But that would mean that academic values would more likely imbue academic administration. If the modern university has come to be dominated by administrators, faculty governance requires administrative control by the faculty.

This reduction should apply with particular force to the bureaucracies that run diversity, equity, and inclusion. These bureaucracies often have an ideological mission. Like bureaucrats everywhere, they want to expand their power and remit: bureaucrats spend a lot of time persuading others that we need more of them. DEI bureaucrats thus have an interest in viewing the world through the prism of systematic racism and sexism. As result, they bring in speakers who advance these views, giving an institutional boost to critical race theory. They are also often charged with investigating faculty who are accused of racism and sexism. But such investigators need to be epistemically open themselves, while the mission of DEI bureaucrats makes them more likely to favor the accusers.

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Comments

“The rise and rise of the academic bureaucracy is the single greatest institutional problem in universities today.”

This is incorrect. The single greatest institutional problem in universities today is the willingness of leftist agitators to escalate conflict to the point of blood, and the lack of any effective counter strategy on the part of university administrators.

The only effective strategy I can think of is to shut down the school and send the unruly children home en masse. Then let some of them back in with dire warnings and certainty of consequences.

But this will never happen. The current strategy is preemptive capitulation.

    A Punk Named Yunk in reply to gibbie. | May 23, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    I upvoted you but disagree a trifle:
    > ….. the willingness of leftist agitators to escalate conflict …
    No, it’s more the willingness of cowardly and sympathetic administration to kowtow to the demands of the agitators.

    From day 1 (1963? At Berkley and Columbia) the administrators needed to:
    1. Expelling them all.
    1.5. Inform their draft boards of the lost student deferment
    2. Sue them for physical and collateral damage (like overtime for employees who had to clean up the messes.)
    3. And finally, criminally charge them with criminal mischief and (most likely) arson.

    A couple of years in the pen – or, at that time, in the US Army – might have unradicalized these entitled lunatics.

This is an article about budget cutting that in no way would improve education.