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Money is One of the Reasons Colleges and Universities Went Woke

Money is One of the Reasons Colleges and Universities Went Woke

“donations, tuition, and fees fund the administrative glut in higher education imposing leftist ideology on all aspects of life”

How did higher education reach its current state? Where did all the woke nonsense come from?

Campus Reform Editor in Chief Zachary Marschall makes a lot of sense here:

ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING: Follow the money to understand why universities went woke

Money matters in higher education because universities, as social institutions, like to behave simultaneously as if they are and are not businesses. And in recent years, they enjoy being woke.

Those two behaviors are connected.

Most colleges are not-for-profits with educational and research missions, but entrepreneurial speculation is present all over campus. Large new shiny buildings, corporate partnerships, and new academic programs resemble the components of a for-profit growth strategy.

Money dictates the trajectory of higher education because revenue and spending influence the composition of people who have a political stake in the research, curriculum, and programming on campus.

In previous editorials, I have argued that hiring practices and administrative hierarchies are the sources of leftist indoctrination on campus. Those trends represent the spending side of financial matters.

Revenue is equally important.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Aug. 17 report “State Support for Public Colleges, 2002-20” is essential to understanding why university revenue influences social institutions so strongly.

The stratospheric rise in revenue since 2002 is indicative of an institutionalized growth strategy throughout higher education that uses rising tuition and fees to fund new programs, initiatives, and offices that specifically cater to college as an experience for leftist activism.

For that reason, conservatives who support limited government and financial restraint should still worry about the decline in state funding of public universities.

During this 18-year period, public universities receiving less public money learned to fund their operations through other sources.

In most cases, that new funding came in the form of higher tuition rates and higher levels of fundraising. As Campus Reform continues to report, both earned and contributed income in the form of donations, tuition, and fees fund the administrative glut in higher education imposing leftist ideology on all aspects of life.

The data confirms the trend academics like me have informally known for years: that states are funding their universities less and less, making those schools reliant on tuition increases to operate and grow.

Though many universities received more money in state funding in 2020 compared to 2002 in real dollars, inflation means that many of these colleges are operating with less state support than twenty years ago.


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“conservatives who support limited government and financial restraint should still worry about the decline in state funding of public universities…
…both earned and contributed income in the form of donations, tuition, and fees fund the administrative glut in higher education imposing leftist ideology on all aspects of life.”

This is hardly AWAB (any way a bug). Donors can discretionarily control donations; students can discretionarily control their enrollment. Only politicians control tax money appropriations, and our control over them is illusory. It sounds like they are doing the right thing — now it’s our turn.

    artichoke in reply to henrybowman. | September 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Donors have very limited control over their donations. At the small level, basically none. At a higher level, it may require a generation to pass, but the money’s eventually stolen by the lefties in administration.

      henrybowman in reply to artichoke. | September 7, 2022 at 12:38 pm

      Donors have 100% control over MAKING donations. If you don’t give them your money, they can’t waste it. (At least that was true before Joe Biden.)

    tbonesays in reply to henrybowman. | September 9, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    “In most cases, that new funding came in the form of higher tuition rates and higher levels of fundraising”

    Raising tuition is a form of funding. The tuition is paid with the government subsidized loans that everyone knows will eventually fall on the taxpayer.

    And I have to disagree with Henry Bowman that students can discretionarily choose not to enroll. The university’s are The gatekeepers to all of the respectable professions. You either sign their papers or live like the paupers.

This is precisely the insidious means by which “climate change/global warming/etc.” became the “consensus” in science; they funding is from the government, and they fund what they want. If you want funding, you walk the walk, and talk the talk.

Sadly, many scientists are selling out for that sweet funding.

We really need a real administration in place to start defunding the wokeness/diversity/equity/pronoun BS.

Dare I say Make Campuses Great Again?

    Suburban Farm Guy in reply to Dimsdale. | September 8, 2022 at 6:44 am

    They love to crow about Separation of Church and State but the global Church of Global Warming is one of major competing theocracies firmly in control of the immense levers of Government. Where’s the virtue signaling about separation with their fraudulent religion? Frauds.

We alumni as donors have little to no control over how this money is spent. I’ve got three universities trying to get donations from me, and each more woke than the next in how they would spend the money. What I can say is that it’s saved me a lot of money, that they’re asking me to support stuff I oppose.

Maybe a very big donor has some control. But generally not; they are tricked. There was a big donor who gave a lot of money to establish (iirc) a conservative department/thinktank at UT Austin, and administrators got their hands on it, and prevent the hiring of conservatives with that money; this is a recent story. Same story surely many places, donors who would rise from the grave if they could and stop the mis-spending of their endowment by lefties in university administration.

I look forward to the day when Gibsons sells more T-shirts than Oberlin.

An interesting argument, but not substantiated by the article. None of the supposed ‘Woke’ sources are named. Assuming the author’s assumption is correct, the important question is why is this money coming primarily from left-wing sources attempting to impose a leftist orthodoxy? Are these the only non-State sources of wealth? And if it isn’t a question of the donors, so much as being a question of how universities mis-direct the money, the issue then is who began to enfranchise the mis-directors, and why did no one try to stop them?

Following the money is important, but the article jumps to conclusions. State appropriations to public universities generally flow into large buckets, with administrators allocating the funds to specific purposes.

A competing theory is that with increasingly challenging compliance issues (Title IX, the Buckley Amendment, health privacy laws), faculty withdrew from a hands-on role in student affairs and counseling. This was replaced by hiring a large body of professional student affairs specialists with masters degrees from schools of education. In general, they were taught more of a doctrine and formulaic approach toward their profession rather than the critical thinking and evidence-based approach of traditional academia. When the Woke took over the schools of education, they used the growing body of counselors and advisors to spead Wokeness to the student body as a whole. These students became graduate students and then faculty in the conventional disciplines. So, historically fields that were traditionally very conservative such as Agriculture, Vet Medicine and STEM, grew increasingly Woke. Students became alumni who then participated in the election of Woke candidates to governing boards and advisory boards.

The only movement of money in this process was the increasing portion of tuition dollars to fund a large number of counseling staff As colleges increased “needs blind” financial aid, a larger portion of tuition dollars were diverted toward internal financial aid, which also shifted enrollment at elite schools toward financially disadvantaged students who became a fertile ground for more Woke recruitment.

I assume that most donors during the transition were probably anti-Woke.

    HarvardPhD in reply to lawgrad. | September 9, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    I tend to agree with your argument, although I wonder about some large donors—including the charitable foundations, which have been captured by social justice preoccupations to the exclusion of other concerns, including those explicitly stated by their founders. Compliance issues have made student counselling and appropriation the function of specialized, non-academic administrators, but the question is how much of this transfer was initiated by faculty and how much was imposed upon them by administrations to justify the creation of so many positions unrelated to teaching and research? ‘You won’t have to bother about this any more’ may have appealed to many faculty members initially, but when they discovered that much of the budget had been taken out of their hands, and non-academic administrators were having increasing influence upon hiring and tenure decisions, there must have been considerable push-back.

    Part of the problem is that university presidents have become increasingly detached from the internal culture of their institutions, and roped instead into a broader cultural establishment in which they have functioned increasingly as fund-raisers and public spokesmen for a broader elite including those who style themselves as “social leaders.” In this capacity, they began to impose more of this broader social program upon the ever-growing administration, and eventually to disciplining faculty who had begun to rebel against these new, non-academic priorities. So did the tail begin to wag the dog. Eventually, most of the faculty, an increasing portion of the alumni, and most of the donors came to agree upon this new social-transformation model of higher education. The next question is: What mechanism could possibly reverse this process??

We are in the midst of a perfect storm.

Many radicals from the 1960’s entered academia during the 1970’s, a period when there was a large number of academic jobs to be filled so that there could not not much filtering by political orientation. Those radicals then stayed in academia when the supply of jobs contracted, which allowed those radicals to shape the hiring of their departments in the following decades. Unsurprisingly, those activist-scholars and more recently (scholarly) activists hired like-minded radicals, especially in fields where there was no underlying body of facts (think science and medicine).

Over the last four decades, the importance of possessing an academic degree in order to complete in the economy increased sharply and often unnecessarily. I remember in the ’90’s that folks joked about job descriptions such as “Warehouse worker: Must have a bachelors degree and be able to lift 50 pounds.” Now everyone is told that they must have a masters or a PhD or some other advanced professional certification that primarily flow from universities. Many of those programs have been “captured” by woke faculty and administrators.

In the last few decades, state and federal governments and major charities have imposed ever more detailed and “progressive” constraints on universities that has led to universities hiring administrative personnel biased towards the philosophy underlying constraints they enforce. Traditionally the humanities was the source for university leaders, so not surprisingly, as the humanities drove to the left, so did university administrations. Hence, administrators are more likely to be woke, and more likely to surround themselves with woke colleagues, often in the name of demonstrating their wokeness.

Not too surprisingly, many kids arrive at college where the apparent “simple goodness” and claimed justice of woke policies are more immediately obvious then the long-term harm those polices ensure. Everyone wants to be “on the right side of history”, gathering by the river with the saints (and drowning the evil). With fewer students flowing into universities at the same time universities need ever more tuition dollars to offset swelling administrative and regulatory expenses and shrinking state support, it is little wonder that universities want to encourage enrollments. “Have a grievance against society? Think you could learn to have a grievance against society? Come here to XYZ University, and we will nourish your grievance, tell you how right you are, and help you demand that OTHERS pay for immediate reparations!”

Ill prepared students coming from K-12 schools damaged by modern educational practices promulgated by schools of (miss)education discover that all fields involving quantitative skills and rigorous logic -mainly the sciences, economics and finance – are beyond reach without massive remediation. So, many logically weak and innumerate students migrate to the humanities, and especially, to the activist grievance-studies programs. Other students, who want the job guarantee of a business degree, discover that the only business programs in which they can succeed with low quant skills are … management and human resources. Perhaps you have noticed that many large engineering and internet-themed companies seem to have lots of minority employees until you look at the engineering, software and treasury staffs. That is because disproportionately diversity (the “right kind” of diversity) is being met by filling HR and management with woke and aggrieved hires. And no one in HR or management gets kudos unless they are busy slaying dragons.

It’s almost enough to drive one to think.