What Drew Gilpin Faust Can't Discuss
One of the matters on which one has a right to expect university presidents, as those who dare “speak truth to etc.” is to comment on the obvious: the radix-malorum-cupditas-theme, and the amazing change, over the past 30 years, in the American economy, as the middle class (defined purely economically) shrinks, and a share of the nation’s wealth and income is arrogated to the “top” 1% and to the “top” 5% at levels not seen since the Gilded Age. But what university president today, running an institution whose beating heart is the Development Office, would ever dare to discuss such matters? And with those much-consulting, much-travelling, much-deal-making entrepreneurs and operators among those who were once more modest teachers, happy to live on their faculty salaries, the diversion of attention from the task of teaching for the sake of all that extra-curricular money-making is also not likely to come up.
But here’s a thought. Why don’t the drew-gilpin-fausts of this world do the right thing, and slash their own salaries, and then demand that the faculty members who, in addition to their salaries, pull in so much from outside work, be expected, in essence, because of all that entrepreneurial activity, to pay out of that their own salaries (those not so engaged will continue to be paid by the university). There’s a way to do this, and to show up the empire-builders, the racketeers,, the operators – they know who they are, of course, and so do their colleagues. You don’t like that? You think it will “force talent out” of university teaching? Nonsense. No more than would caps of a million dollars a year on all executives in those banks now on the government dole drive out or “destroy” banking “talent.” If there are those who feel this way, and feel it strongly, then they should not be involved in teaching. They should be forced to make the break, and others take their place. For too many the institutional connection – my, how Nazarbayev and similar clients are impressed, for example, with stationery that has “Harvard Business School” embossed on it when they are handed the final “Report on Competitiveness in Kazakhstan” (or some such), which of course makes the collection of obvious banalities worth every penny of the five million (or is it six) that the government of Kazakhstan pays, like so many other governments and institutions, for such a report., and such an embossment.
Posted on 12/20/2008 3:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald