Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880–1980

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Submitted by Karin Westman. On Thursday, Nov. Newfield's talk is sponsored by the English department and its graduate track in cultural studies. Newfield is professor of literature and American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Much of his research is in Critical University Studies, which links his enduring concern with humanities teaching to the study of how higher education continues to be re-shaped by social and economic forces.

Duke University Press - Ivy and Industry

Its argument will serve as the focus for his talk. Regrettably, answers to these questions will not be found in any of the three publications.

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Inertia is a powerful force. The weight of historical momentum has moved the American academy into a state where its health depends mightily on the health of the national and state economies and the ideologically driven priorities of those who decide how to allocate public wealth or redistribute private lucre. Politicians have funding priorities that all too often are aligned with those of corporate America's, and donors to private institutions tend to be among the leaders of corporate America.

Business and the Making of the American University, 1880–1980

Politicians have calculated that voting to decrease public support of education is not harmful to their careers because education is no longer seen as a public good, and private donors have championed higher education as a private interest. Starve the beast, or attach restrictive covenants to gifts, dollar-dispensers reason, and it will become stronger and more self-reliant and eventually even more amenable to political control and "accountability.


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Over time, higher education has reconciled itself to the need to become more entrepreneurial, more enterprising, and more inventive in finding resources, a reconciliation that Slaughter and Rhoades characterize as not-for-profits looking for ways to make profits. As they necessarily operate within an economic system that rewards initiative and penalizes sloth, faculty-reward systems soon became geared toward generating saleable ideas, dismissing or downsizing those with the least marketable ideas, and creating a large reservoir of content providers who enjoy few benefits and no job security.

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Ivy and Industry

Baltimore, Md. Stein, ed.

American University Arts Center

New Brunswick, NJ.

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