The gravest threat to American higher education is American culture.
Interesting article in The Chronicle of Higher Ed today. Kathryn D. Blanchard took another angle on the conversation about the over sensitive student population, free speech, and collapse of the academy as we know it. Her article pointed to a much more inclusive list of culprits – it’s not the “right”, it’s not the “left”, it’s complicated and we need to participate in solutions lest we lose our hallowed halls.
Most Americans simply don’t have the energy to worry about intangibles like professors’ academic freedom; they’re too busy trying to get jobs with living wages and health benefits, whether as welders or philosophers.
Blanchard identifies some of the complexities here – “In addition to racism (and its counterpart, white entitlement), at least a dozen threats to higher education as a whole are more pressing than that of the sensitive student. Not least is an aversion to accountability among faculty members and administrators. Other issues include terrible public high schools, administrative bloat, unsustainable business models, crumbling infrastructure, shortsighted boards, the death (or suicide) of the liberal arts, micromanaging donors, students’ alcohol abuse, sexual assault, terrible salaries, politicians who criticize higher education to score points with voters, program cuts, unstable investments in endowments, ranking systems that favor rich colleges, shrinking birth rates among college-educated parents, out-of-control athletics costs, and the imminent death of the college-going American middle class”.
Wish I heard more about these issues in the presidential debates!