Synopses & Reviews
Until very recently, American universities were led mainly by their faculties, which viewed intellectual production and pedagogy as the core missions of higher education. Today, as Benjamin Ginsberg warns in this eye-opening, controversial book, "deanlets"--administrators and staffers often without serious academic backgrounds or experience--are setting the educational agenda.
The Fall of the Faculty examines the fallout of rampant administrative blight that now plagues the nation's universities. In the past decade, universities have added layers of administrators and staffers to their payrolls every year even while laying off full-time faculty in increasing numbers--ostensibly because of budget cuts. In a further irony, many of the newly minted--and non-academic--administrators are career managers who downplay the importance of teaching and research, as evidenced by their tireless advocacy for a banal "life skills" curriculum. Consequently, students are denied a more enriching educational experience--one defined by intellectual rigor. Ginsberg also reveals how the legitimate grievances of minority groups and liberal activists, which were traditionally championed by faculty members, have, in the hands of administrators, been reduced to chess pieces in a game of power politics. By embracing initiatives such as affirmative action, the administration gained favor with these groups and legitimized a thinly cloaked gambit to bolster their power over the faculty.
As troubling as this trend has become, there are ways to reverse it. The Fall of the Faculty outlines how we can revamp the system so that real educators can regain their voice in curriculum policy.
"This book takes a hard, clear-eyed look, with few holds barred, at the growing number and influence of full-time administrators in colleges and universities. It recognizes the large increase in government and other demands on the bureaucracy. But it dwells on the manifest fact--too often slighted--that administrators have their own fish to fry. Let us hope that his cautionary tale has a wide impact."--Morton Keller, Professor Emeritus of History, Brandeis University
"During my nearly 60 years as a professor, I believe this is the only comprehensive analysis of the academic civil war between the professors and the deans. Ginsberg demonstrates why and how we're losing--or have already lost."--Theodore J. Lowi, Professor of American Institutions, Cornell University
"Ben Ginsberg knows a thing or two about academic bureaucracy. He has had extensive experience with administrative impediments that come between his ideas and their realization. Instead of ranting, he has written The Fall of the Faculty, where he has employed his political insight to examine administrative bloat in higher education and to explain the many ways in which administrative authority has elbowed aside faculty governance in the running of today's colleges and universities. As a recovering deanlet and one-time acting dean, I know whereof he speaks."--Matthew A. Crenson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
"In his lacerating "The Fall of the Faculty," Mr. Ginsberg argues that universities have degenerated into poorly managed pseudo-corporations controlled by bureaucrats so far removed from research and teaching that they have barely any idea what these activities involve. He attacks virtually everyone from overpaid presidents and provosts down through development officers, communications specialists and human-resource staffers but he reserves his most bitter scorn for the midlevel "associate deans" and "assistant deans" who often have the most direct control over the faculty. Mr. Ginsberg refers to them as "deanlets," but at my institution they are often called "ass. deans." The Fall of the Faculty" reads like a cross between a grand-jury indictment and a call to arms. Yet as bracing and darkly pleasurable as this call is, it is hard to imagine professors joining the resistance with so few weapons at their disposal."--The Wall Street Journal
Dissatisfaction with the academy runs deep in America. Despite-or perhaps because of-the fact that a far greater percentage of Americans have attended college than at any time in the past, distrust of the higher education system seems higher than ever. The most common complaints concern rapidly escalating tuition prices, affirmative action policies, and-not least-the allegedly left-wing professoriate that runs American universities. Indeed, much of the criticism of academia focuses on professors: they are too liberal, they care little about teaching, and they are too hyperspecialized. Benjamin Ginsberg argues that this common critique puts the cart before the horse and ignores a much bigger issue. In fact, faculty are not the primary problem with contemporary academia. Rather, the problem lies in the explosive growth in administration in US universities and the concomitant decline in faculty power in influence. Put simply, "deanlets"-administrators without doctorates or serious academic training-rule the roost, and professors do not have nearly as much institutional power as they used to. Their decline dovetails with another trend: the growing regimentation and corporatization of the university. The fallout, Ginsberg contends, is negative: a de-emphasis on intellectual rigor and the traditional liberal arts. A stinging critique of how universities are run today, this book charts how this happened and explains how we can revamp the system so that actual educators have more say in curriculum policy.
Until recently, America's universities were mainly led by faculty ideas and concerns. Today, as Benjamin Ginsberg warns in this eye-opening, controversial book, "deanlets"--administrators and staffers often without serious academic backgrounds or experience--are setting the educational agenda, depriving faculty of their institutional power, and eroding the quality of higher education. The Fall of the Faculty explains how layers of administrators and staffers are added to university payrolls every year, despite the claim that schools are facing budget shortfalls that force them to lay off full-time faculty. In a further irony, many of the new administrators are career managers with no faculty experience, and they often downplay the importance of teaching and research. Consequently, students are denied a more enriching educational experience--one defined by intellectual rigor. In no-nonsense prose, Ginsberg also shows that eliminating the tenure system, which some misguided critics see as a way to improve higher education, would have the effect of further destroying faculty power while increasing the power of the deanlets. As troubling as this trend has become, there are ways to reverse it. Designed to be at the center of the debate on the future of the university,The Fall of the Faculty outlines how we can revamp higher education so that real educators can regain their voice in curriculum policy.
About the Author
is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for the Study of American Government, and Chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His previous books include Downsizing Democracy
, American Government: Power and Purpose
, and We the People: An Introduction to American Politics
Table of Contents
1. The Growth of Administration.
2. What Administrators Do
3. Management Pathologies
4. The Realpolitik of Race and Gender.
5. There Is No Such Thing As Academic Freedom (For Professors)
6. Research and Teaching at the All-Administrative University.
7. What is to be Done