Tuesday, May 15, 2012

PhDs Behaving Badly - Update

Following up on an earlier post about the commentator that got fired for questioning the worth of black studies programs at universities: (source)
The Chronicle of Higher Education fired Naomi Schaefer Riley for revealing what almost everyone on any campus knows, but is reluctant to say, about black studies: it is a political cause masquerading as an academic discipline, and if there were real intellectual, and not political, standards on campus, it would be shut down.

There is, however, a larger issue: not only is what Schaefer Riley says true about why black studies should be closed down, but her statements could also be easily extended to many fields in the social sciences and humanities...

A large part of academia is a bubble, and like early warnings about the housing crisis, few in academia want to acknowledge that the bubble is about to burst.  In academia, as in the world of investment banking, no one wants to kill the golden goose.  Too many have such strong and vested interests in the system as it exists that they have no motivation to consider the long-term consequences.
Who are the beneficiaries of the status quo? From my perspective, the most obvious is the bloated academic bureaucracy:
  • From 1993 to 2007, the inflation-adjusted cost of tuition climbed by 66.7 percent at the top 198 universities.
  • During the same years, enrollments grew by only 14.5 percent (3.64 million to 4.17 million).
  • From 1993 to 2007, "the number of full-time administrators per 100 students . . . increased by 39.3 percent"
  • During the same years, "the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only increased by 17.6 percent"
In short, "most leading universities are increasing their administrative employment and expenditures much faster than instructional employment or expenditures."

And what do these extra administrators do? For the most part, they are devoted to the recruiting and retention of minority students, and to the collecting and parsing of data to show how dedicated the university is to diversity. A sizable portion of them also administer programs designed to help minorities overcome their generally dismal public school preparation for higher education. This is not a knock on the students themselves, but rather on the fraud being perpetuated on the American people -- including minorities -- under the guise of public school education.

In addition to parasitic administrators, tenured faculty have little reason to complain about a system that basically guarantees them lifetime employment unless they shoot someone, rape a baby, or admit that they're a conservative. Tenure also gives the leftists a perfect platform from which to advance their agenda virtually unchallenged by any counter view.
Conservative professors are frightened, invisible, and often embarrassed. Ideological exile is scary. It gets tiring when colleagues ask you to defend birthers, the Westboro Baptist Church, Rush Limbaugh, George Bush, George Zimmerman, and David Horowitz before you've even had your morning coffee, especially when they are going to vote on your tenure.  The ignorant asides about Fox News are usually thrown in during department meetings, somewhere between announcements of the latest conference about homosexuality and elections to the personnel review committee.
Other parties benefiting from our higher education system are the student loan industry, which is quite likely to follow the mortgage loan industry into crisis. According to a recent survey of bank risk professionals:
More than two-thirds of risk managers are seriously concerned about the debt loads held by students in the country. 67% of respondents believe delinquencies of student loans will rise, up a considerable 19% from the previous survey.
The obama administration is already making noises about reducing or forgiving some or all of student loans. If that happens guess who'll end up paying for them? That's right, the same people who are underwriting the mortgage loan bailouts - the 50% of the people in this country who pay taxes.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of managing my finances responsibly, being prudent when it comes to credit, and still getting called on to bail out other people (and car-makers, and banks, and solar cell manufacturers, and...) who borrow money like it's going out of style.

Reminds me of my second ex-wife...


Old NFO said...

And you didn't say a word about the committees... :-) And I can vouch for everything you said based on my prior experience!

CenTexTim said...

Oh Dear Lord - don't get me started on those damn committees...

Pascvaks said...

In the words of that iconic British Anarchist, "Imagine!"

Imagine a country where Student Loans were administered and funded by States --not the Feds. (Just of a Sec;-) I wonder how many residents of Kalifornistan would be going to University? Someone told me they were going broke. I can't believe it's true, Hollywood is still loaded, left?

CenTexTim said...

Pascvaks, Hollywood still has plenty of $$$, and so do a few Silicon Valley top dogs. The rest of the state, not so much. So what's Jerry Brown's solution? Raise taxes and chase away the more productive citizens, while keeping the parasites and bums.

Pascvaks said...

You don't think the Hollywood anarchists will ever leave and takeover Dallas, do you? Lordy! Lordy! NOT Dallas!

J.R.! J.R,! HELP!