Monday, May 16, 2011

US University faculty are In for Nasty Weather

Bad Moon Rising for Universities.

News: In for Nasty Weather - Inside Higher Ed

In an upcoming post on his blog that is tentatively titled “Full Moon Setting,” James C. Garland, president emeritus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, reaches for the album-oriented rock catalog (his title is a riff on the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Bad Moon Rising”).

The song’s lyrics seemed apt, he said. “I hear hurricanes a-blowing/I know the end is coming soon/I fear rivers overflowing/I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”

“The metaphor in higher education is that the bad moon is rising,” Garland told Inside Higher Ed. “You’re hearing the voices of rage and ruin. It comes from unhappy faculty who want to form unions to protect themselves, declining standards, students who aren’t willing to work, the corporatization of the university and the general sense that things are getting worse.”

Garland’s larger argument is actually more philosophical (and, he said, influenced by his wife's t'ai chi teacher) -- that those in higher education should seek to gracefully manage change rather than pine for a bygone era. “You’ve got to realize that full moons aren’t forever, that the moon rises and sets,” he said. “That’s just in the nature of things. That seems to be what's happening, particularly to public higher education.”


Anonymous said...

Something about that article made me feel a total lack of empathy for the professors, and a hovering feeling of contempt for the entire system. It reminded me that it is really based on a system designed to keep the sons of the British elite on top of society for no other reason than the convenience of their birth. I was reminded of all the anality and snobbery that lurks in education, and as the article said - the total dominance of white males. Who, let's be honest, are often insufferable jackasses.
Often ruling their classrooms with ego and quirkiness that has little to nothing to do with "learning", thinking, or their subject, but exists to serve the purpose of creating a professorial fiefdom. And we all know about their petty inter-departmental wars.

I'd say there is some latent failure in the writing of that piece. Presumably the intent was to move people to sympathy and nostalgic support of the existing system, not contempt. To portray "higher ed" as a victim of the Class War, not the nutrient-rich breeding ground of it.
After that article I'd like to see the whole bourgeois mess implode on itself in a Big Fiery Ball Visible From Space.

Mpeterson said...

Oh no Annie, I think I agree with you about what's happened to much of the professoriate... but the whole "petty inter-departmental wars" business belongs to a fairly high altitude realm and is more of a cliche -- one beloved by conservatives who need a smug boogey man -- than a reality.

It's a wistfulness for a time when professors were poorly paid but highly respected -- any time before about 1960 in other words. On the other hand, I make less than the local household median income.. in fact, most UW profs make a fair bit less than faculty in other states -- like Alabama, for instance.

But don't worry, it looks like the current political trend is going to reduce universities to technical training institutes designed to produce good, obedient, and unquestioning workers... so, we'll be both hated as the "haves" and paid badly. ;^)

I can tell you that Mr. Walker woke most of my colleagues up to the fact that we are now blue collar workers too, and this masquerade as "professionals" isn't something most of us believe anymore... hence the wildfire unionization that's swept UW system.

Ready for the barricades? :^)