Trophy Academic: Niall Ferguson

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Tue Jul 1 11:35:29 MDT 2003


Mark Lause wrote:

College administrators--more than most corporate managers--hold executive
positions for a very short period of time, maybe two to five years.  They
often then move on to a different institution entirely. This is a short
period in which to make one's reputation.  New construction projects,
bringing in tons of grant money, and hiring "trophy" professors are all
logical ways of showboating.

All of this can have disastrous long-term consequences.  New construction
put the institutions into decades of debt.  Trophy professors suck up the
money to where you have to put off hiring replacements for the ordinary
professors who are retiring.  And a year or two of big bucks creates a kind
of institutional addiction that gets in the way of what used to be done in
such places.

Concentrating resources on a few in a craft with such high levels of
unemployment and underemployment is, of course, just nuts.

Solidarity!
Mark Lause


Response Jim C: This is exactly right in my opinion. Plato once noted:
"Those who seek power are invariably the least fit to wield it." As with
executives in general, college administrators are typically pompous,
arrogant, megalomaniacal, elitist, manipulators, narcissists, predatory,
networkers, schmoozers, posturers, liars; add here to the list:

Unlike their counterparts in the rest of the coporate world, they cannot
typically point to P/E ratios, stock prices, quarterly "bottom lines",
mergers and acquisitions, magnitudes of layoffs, etc as evidence of their
"performance" and success. Consistent with their narcissistic tendencies,
they typically love to see new buildings (with their names on them),
trendy/fad programs and acquisitions of "superstar" academics (through which
they and their institutions gain recognition vicariously) as evidence of
their own "performance". It is also sad to note on what real basis (bullshit
and irrelevant and arcane publish or perish--CV-notching--without any care
as to any possible practical applications or evidence of practical
applications having been accomplished) these acquired academics are
considered "superstars" in the first place.

My daughter once asked me if I wanted her to go to Harvard. I said
absolutely not and she asked why. I noted that any institution that would
have fascist scum like Larry Summers (remember the infamous Summers memo of
December 12, 1991 that read like it was written by Eichmann?) as its
President is automatically of too low of caliber to waste her talents on. I
noted to her that I would hope that she would go to some institution where
some real teaching went on and where teaching was not just some kind of
interlude between publish-or-perish (irrelevant bullshit in arcane journals)
and the next sabbatical or the next bullshit conference at some exotic
locale to be written off as a "business expense" for tax purposes. I also
noted to her that since so much of academia is pure fucking fraud and that
often the students wind up educating themselves despite the assaults on
their creativity and independence that routinely take place under the banner
of "education", I wouldn't mind if she would educate herself and skip
college all together.

And yes, the direct and opportunity costs of this whole fraud and these
typical administrators--and superstar profs--and their own agenda and
notions of "education" are indeed staggering.

Jim C.



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