Now comes V. D. Hanson, who gets to see access-assessment-remediation-retention up close at his local California State campus, and who gets to see the follies at the top of the academic food chain at Stanford. "The damage that the modern university has wrought has now outweighed its once-positive role."
But not necessarily wrong.
Administrators in the 1960s and 1970s were relatively few. Most faculty saw administration as a temporary if necessary evil that took precious time away from teaching and research and so were admired for putting up with it. Often the best scholars and classroom teachers were drafted for such unwelcome duty, and were praised for their sacrifices of a year or two.That might be generally correct, and yet an incomplete explanation of what went wrong.
Professors taught large loads—four or five classes a semester for California State University faculty. Conferences were rare. Teaching was still valued as much as scholarship.
The result was that both college tuition and room and board stayed relatively inexpensive. There were few student loans. Students who went into limited debt usually paid off their obligations in a year or two after graduation. Most students found part-time jobs on campus and lived frugally. Most did not even own used cars; those who did were valued as rare assets.
Perhaps the additional administration is a consequence of all the unfunded mandates that accompanied the student loans, as well as the social progress, such as it was.
Perhaps the people who rightly played with ideas, because where, if not in a university, can you play with ideas, wrongly attempted to convert the universities into experimental prefigurative communities of transformation. (Thanks, Disney!)
Standards, then, were also discredited as artifices to suppress the marginalized. To object to such hucksterism was proof of one’s own racism, sexism, and homophobia.I suspect the usual suspects at the various fora in defense of business as usual will dismiss, if they pay any attention at all.
New progressive doctrines insisted that because the traditional elements of American society and culture—the family, church, community, and government—were biased, the university was needed as a counterweight to these nefarious conservative forces. Thus, the university could and should itself become prejudicial and openly propagandistic—a legitimate way of offering “balance” to the various institutional forces that brainwashed young Americans with conservative doctrines.
I suspect, though, that business as usual cannot continue.