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Monday, November 2, 2009

See "University, Inc." (and read the book with the same title!)

The following on-campus event is significant for concerned A&S students, faculty and staff:

Filmmaker Kyle Henry will be on campus Friday, November 6, 7:30, for the screening of his film University, Inc., to be shown in the Law School Auditorium along with The Subtext of a Yale Education from filmmaker Laura Dunn. Admission is free (with donations welcome). Both films explore the corporate takeover of academia. Following the screenings, Mr. Henry will lead a panel discussion of the phenomenon’s impact at UT. The UT panel members will represent its faculty, its students and (perhaps) its administration. This event, also known as “THE McCOLLEGE TOUR” is presented by the UT Department of Theatre & Film.

Two items worth noting about this event is that 1) this documentary first appeared in 1999 (concomitantly with THE McCOLLEGE TOUR); and 2) there is coincidently a book worth reading by investigative journalist Jennifer Washburn titled University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education (2005). This book is an “investigative and critical analysis on the rise of the corporate university” which grew out of Washburn’s earlier investigations focusing on “the secretive connections between public education and private industry.” Excerpts from a review of Washburn’s University, Inc. by Sharon Hudson include these observations:

“When the profit motive entered university research, universities began to behave like for-profit corporations. Chasing money—and the prestige that attracts it—has created distortions in education. Do undergraduates subsidize research? Some universities now pay “star” professors up to a half million dollars per year, while undergraduate education is “farmed out to the growing army of part-time instructors who receive no benefits and meager pay.” In 1969, 97% of professors were on tenure track; now it is 40%; America now has an army of Ph.D.s scrounging for steady jobs. Tuition has increased at three times the rate of inflation, while students have become “customers” to be gratified with lifestyle luxuries and high grades rather than outstanding education. Funding is diverted from the humanities and social sciences into the science departments that can bring in industrial dollars.
In the lucrative sciences, academic collegiality is giving way to squabbles over patent rights, and the “knowledge commons” is increasingly privatized and hoarded. When professors object, universities assuage them by making them stakeholders in university business enterprises. Ironically, most universities make no profit on their patenting operations, so opening the Pandora’s Box of academic damage yields them no benefits. And in the final twist, American universities have gotten so greedy that now their private partners are complaining—and starting to take their research subsidies overseas!As Washburn points out, the profit-motivated behavior of universities is a gross violation of the public trust that universities have earned over a hundred years. Universities receive public funding and tax exemptions because they serve the public good, providing well-rounded education, unbiased research, and accessible knowledge. But if universities behave like businesses, shouldn’t they be treated like them—legally and fiscally? And, Washburn asks: “Would alumni continue to give so generously to their alma maters if they perceived them as increasingly motivated by profit rather than serving the public good? Would politicians and taxpayers continue to issue tens of billions of dollars annually to colleges and universities in the form of grants, tax exemptions, and student financial aid?”

Question: Does any of this sound familiar?


yo, duh! said...

FYI, here's the email I got about this late Mondat afternoon:
This event has been moved to the Law Center Auditorium to accommodate a larger audience.

Friday, November 6

Documentary Film Series: University, Inc.

7:30 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Lab Theatre Law Center Auditorium
Description: Double feature night! University, Inc. will be shown with Laura Dunn’s short piece The Subtext of a Yale Education. University, Inc.: Filmmaker Kyle Henry will be in residence for a screening of his newly re-released documentary on the “corporatization” of the academy.
No charge/$3 donation requested

umbraged said...

Is it a coincidence that there's a Libbey Hall "Friday Fun" (I think the first of the semester) earlier that same day?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone in Columbus care that the business community is doing for universities what they did for the rest of the country? That is bring moral and monetary bankruptcy?

umbraged said...

And who'll run like rats from a ship of their own sinking? Who'll bail us out?