"The unedited musings of a recovering madman"


The Academic Industrial Complex
By FELICIA R. LEE (NYT)
NYTIMES: September 6, 2003Scholars and educators are warning that the traditional mission and standards of the university are at risk of being compromised by increasing commercialization.
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Law of Emergenics: Read The Signs

Sign: Commercialization of Once Non-Commercial Institutions

I found the article interesting and provocative because it identifies with a trend that is emerging under pressure from scarcity and competition.

"At the University of Illinois, more than 1,000 classes on hundreds of subjects were canceled during the last academic year because of severe budget cuts. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, meanwhile, is getting $25 million worth of money and materials from Microsoft as part of a five year-partnership with the company to develop educational technologies.

The combination of sometimes desperate financial need and innovative ways to make money is a hallmark of a new era in the relationship between corporate culture and higher education. In articles, symposiums and a host of new books, scholars and educators have been warning that the traditional mission and standards of the university are at risk of being compromised by increasing commercialization."
 

The interesting thing was noted by Steven B. Sample, the president of the University of Southern California

"Commercialization has been an important part of academic life for a long time, especially in American higher education."

"It's extraordinarily competitive for research grants, gifts, faculty, students. But a lot of the reason for our success has been the intense level of competition. I'm thinking of research universities in particular."

Mr. Sample argues that the poor quality of many public elementary, middle and high schools reflects a lack of competition. Indeed, much of the debate over how to improve primary and secondary education revolves around treating students and parents like consumers, and forcing schools to compete for admissions.

So, on one hand, the survival of the fittest seems to be running through competitive pressure and on the other hand the manner in which it is running will change the way academic institutions are viewed.

I guess the sign that I feel is important is a changing in the guard of society. And with that change signals a new set of rules.

Rule 1: It's not enough to publish, you have to make money.

Rule 2: Every piece of education will have to be monetized in order to survive the competition.

It's the last one that will create the vMEMETIC shift of magnitude. Stoics once revered for their ability to remain above commercialism may find it harder and harder to survive with their current tenured standard of living. IF this bastion crumbles...it is a SIGN of serious proportion--a tipping point.

 
On The Professional Edge