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The Lost Soul of Higher Education
Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom and the End of the American University
ELLEN SCHRECKER * THE NEW PRESS, 2010 * 279 PP. * $27.95
How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids--And What We Can Do About It
ANDREW HACKER AND CLAUDIA DREIFUS * TIMES BOOKS, 2010 * 246 PP. * $26
At the end of her treatise The Lost Soul of Higher Education, Ellen Schrecker, professor of history at Yeshiva University, writes that "without an aware and energized academic community that can fight for all its members, higher education as a bastion of freedom and opportunity will, like the polar bears' glacial habitat, slowly melt away." Colleges and universities are not melting away, as any casual observer will recognize. In fact, they seem to be proliferating, expanding, and upgrading despite the economic downturn. But Schrecker's concern is not really with the institutions as a whole. Rather it is with the place of the faculty in them.
Having recently visited the zoo, I must say it is tempting to run with Schrecker's analogy of college faculty as polar bears--occasionally ferocious, but mostly just lazing around in their own world, scratching themselves, yawning, oblivious to the stares of onlookers. As she tells it, though, university faculty are hardworking--sometimes 55 hours a week!--and so solicitous of those outside of the academy that they have tied the university in knots trying to gain public approval.
At one point, Schrecker explains, that meant caving to the demands of Joseph McCarthy, but today, she says, university faculty are submitting to the will of corporations, the military industrial complex, right-wing foundations and …