As much as I like to complain, I’m mostly happy with my experiences, now as a professor, once as a student, at American universities. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of things I would change, but I feel like some of what we do in the classroom achieves a higher purpose than simple brainwashing and that the research we do has some intellectual validity (at least in my area, I can’t speak for other areas).
I have no illusions that this will last. I suspect that eventually American universities may eventually be turned into Galt-funded propaganda mills the way that think tanks and establishment media already have been. I’ve always thought this would start with the business schools and then creep into the less intellectually upstanding areas like economics, but that it might eventually reach all of us. There probably won’t be too many complaints — except from the real quacks (e.g. people who read this blog) — because people do like money, no matter where it comes from.
[T]he way some decisions have been made at the school was described as “Brezhnevian” by one professor, who like many interviewed for this article requested anonymity in order to preserve relationships with the school. In one vote, faculty members were asked to raise a hand if they were in favor of a particular change. There were no dissenters, several attendees recalled.
The most memorable vote came in the fall of 2008, when Mr. Mayer gathered senior faculty members and made a surprising announcement: Dean Hubbard’s job was in peril. President Bollinger was balking at appointing him to a second five-year term.
According to several participants, Mr. Mayer urged professors to demonstrate their support for Mr. Hubbard with a petition, which attendees were asked to sign on the spot. Several current and former faculty members used the identical word to describe the experience: bizarre.[…]
In absence of any official word, faculty members have been left to speculate about why Mr. Hubbard nearly lost his job. Nor does anyone know why Mr. Bollinger decided to reappoint him, though current and former faculty members have a pet theory: that Mr. Bollinger was worried about losing the financial support of Mr. Hubbard’s friends, most notably Mr. Kravis.
(Henry R. Kravis is a private equity magnate who recently pledged $100 million to the Columbia Business School.)