2.7.19

LET THE PROFESSORS RUN THE UNIVERSITY.

Inside Higher Education, which is often the mouthpiece for business as usual in higher education, provides Sarah Lawrence's Samuel Abrams a column to recognize that which we have been saying for years.
Put simply, let the faculty -- not the students or administrators -- run the institution. This includes professors being the ones who have input in extracurricular programming from student orientation curricula to residential education initiatives where hard humanistic questions are tackled. It also means that faculty members who have expertise in particular subject matter or professional fields should mentor and advise students and not leave that to entirely to administrative advising offices like career services, which may not have the expertise and industry connections.

Professors should have control over what they teach and how they teach it. Faculty members are trained to be thoughtful and balanced, and their professional judgment should not be subject to regular outside or administrative review by those who are not academically trained to make such decisions. Thus, the recent rise of policing and reviewing of course content by nonspecialists such as diversity offices, despite the positive intentions of supporting students, must stop. Faculty members are well aware of the need to promote diversity and should be trusted to develop and bring balance to their own courses.

My rationale for advising faculty members to re-emerge as leaders on campus is this: it is the professors who spend their careers explicitly striving to establish facts, wrestle with the multiplicity of ideas and search for truth. Most administrators are not trained to teach complex questions and effectively mediate the nuance and context that is the hallmark of a real humanistic education. Rather, they are givers of care and supervision that has helped develop narrow and particular progressive worldviews.
You'd think those points would be commonplaces, but a quarter century of access-assessment-remediation-retention has probably shifted a lot of default settings.

The professor is not done, though.
I believe that a liberal arts and sciences education should be difficult. Students need to engage with questions and subjects that are not easy. They should be exposed to a multitude of viewpoints and tools that will help them tackle questions about life in general. They should have input in shaping their educational paths, but professors exist to help open up their worlds and force them to confront topics that they either would like to avoid or about which they are ignorant.
A man that eloquent deserves to be reinforced.

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