Michael Hudson: Higher Education Crapification – The New School Case Study

Yves here. From time to time, we’ve mentioned the way higher eduction has come to be about just about anything except education. Credentialing. Naming opportunities for rich donors. Labor exploitation via the use of badly underpaid adjuncts. Adminisphere feather bedding. And these have all been side effects of the fact that the most “successful” as in best endowed institutions some time back started to operate as hedge funds with education subsidiaries. So the New School tale that Michal Hudson recounts below is an illustration of this sorry pattern.

The prompt for Hudson’s article is a February 16 New York Times story by Sharon Otterman, Facing Budget Troubles, Some Colleges Look to Sell the President’s House. The article describes some of the painfully obvious class warfare in higher education, such as students not born to wealthy parents straining to pay tuition and meagerly-paid instructors, versus lavishly compensated top brass. But the article does not point out that monetizing real estate, even if in this case it also rid of a stick-in-the-craw executive perk, does not do much for the institution’s floundering finances.

From the Times’ piece:

The president of the New School in Manhattan is about to lose an extraordinary perk: a five-story West Village townhouse that for decades has served as the university head’s official residence.

The school, which projected a $52 million budget shortfall for the 2024 fiscal year, is asking $20 million for the home as it seeks to stabilize its finances. The sale comes as shaky student enrollment, inflation and other forces are threatening smaller colleges in New York City and around the country. To stay healthy, some have sought to sell off real estate assets to shore up their balance sheets….

Nearly 90 percent of the New School’s faculty are part-time adjunct professors, some earning as little as about $6,000 per course, union leaders said. Dwight A. McBride, who resigned as the university’s president last summer, earned a total of $1.4 million annually, according to federal tax forms….

In New York City, major research universities with large endowments like New York University and Columbia have been growing their real estate portfolios and transforming blocks and neighborhoods. But as the number of students heading to college has dropped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and as the New School and other less wealthy institutions fight for students, more have been turning to real estate sales as a way to plug budget gaps and buoy endowments….

Lacking a large endowment, the New School is heavily dependent on tuition revenue. Located in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country, it charges at the top end for American schools, with an estimated total annual cost of $85,000 for a full-time undergraduate student living on campus last school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Nearly all students get some form of financial aid.

To keep its classrooms filled, the New School has been less selective than some of its better known neighbors, admitting 57 percent of those who applied for the fall of 2022, compared to 12 percent at N.Y.U., statistics show. More than a third of its students in 2022 were international.
Half of the undergraduate students who entered the school in 2018 did not graduate within four years….

The university has also been spending heavily on debt payments, after borrowing more than $300 million to build a new flagship building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street. The school had high hopes that it would generate significant revenue from student dorms, but that has not panned out as well as planned, Dr. Reddy said.

Hudson also mentions in passing the weird posture New York City landlords take to retail tenants. Many many years ago, significant vacancies in what had been vibrant and tony shopping area like upper Madison Avenue, Third Avenue and then even prime Madison Avenue (the Sixties) became common. And it was not due to tenant failure but tenants being driven out by rent increases. For instance, on Third Avenue in the low Eighties, the landlords had held rents flattish for a few years after the financial crisis. Then as if they all got together in a smoky room and agreed, all the rents doubled. Mind you, inflation and borrowing costs were low and it was not as if Manhattan was suddenly in a boom so that resident incomes and therefore spending were way up. A few soldiered on with the big cost rise, but most either moved or shuttered.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is The Destiny of Civilization. Originally published in the Investigación Económica (Economic Research), produced by UNAM (Autonomous National University of Mexico)

I found a story in Saturday’s New York Times that I think epitomizes the crapification of higher education in the United States. It concerns the New School, where I taught at the graduate faculty from 1969 to 1972 (when it was still called the New School for Social Research).

When I was there all the economics (and I think the other) faculty members were full time. But as universities have bloated their bureaucratic administrative overhead, their cost squeeze has forced them to shift to part-time instructors – “Visiting Professors,” they’re called. The NYT article reports that: “Nearly 90 percent of the New School’s faculty are part-time adjunct professors, some earning as little as about $6,000 per course, union leaders said. Dwight A. McBride, who resigned as the university’s president last summer, earned a total of $1.4 million annually.”

I myself had gone to graduate school at New York University half a mile away. I must say that at that time most of my professors already were part-timers. But actually, they were the ones that turned out to be the best, because they all had real jobs working in the real world – at the United Nations, the National Bureau for Economic Research and other actual working relationships.
By far the worst professors were full-time professors – meaning unrealistic academics, given the fact that I was in the economics department. The full timers were hopelessly incompetent for monetary theory, trade theory. Students were penalized for raising real-world points to criticize the junk economics that already was being taught in the mid-1960s. I got a C or C- in monetary theory for criticizing the Loanable Funds theory, and had to retake my PhD orals for criticizing Carl Menger’s barter theory of money. In effect, I was told, “Who are you going to believe: your own experience and history, or what the textbooks and professors say?”

The difference is that today’s “visiting professors” are not experienced professionals teaching because they like it. They are recent PhD graduates – finding few full-time jobs available at any universities. So students get the worst of both worlds: orthodox crapified neoliberalism and part-time faculty just trying to scrape by. There are news stories of some U.S. professors sleeping in their cars because they can’t afford to rent apartments.

The New York Times study focused on how the New School is trying to scrape through its budget deficit by selling the $20 million house that was used by the president. That amounts to half of the $40 million annual deficit.

That brings up another experience I had. In 1970 or 1971 I was paid $13,000 a year. Not much – so the Dean of the Graduate School gave me a contract to calculate how much the New School would make by merging with the Parsons School of Design across the street. I explained that the merger was basically a real estate deal, and said that the New School would do very well, because the property would be tax-exempt. And that’s just what has happened.

That’s because part of the crapification process is that universities in New York City have basically become real estate companies that hold classes in some of their property in order to get tax exemption on the remainder. Columbia University owned the land under Rockefeller Center before selling it to the Japanese at a vastly overpriced deal (on which the buyers lost their shirt). New York University owns most of the property round it – which it has used to destroy the cultural life that used to characterize Greenwich Village and 8th Street by raising rents to drive out the book stores, drive out the record stores, drive out everything cultural and replace them with shoe stores and whatever large corporate companies could meet the high rent demands. There was no idea of universities trying to subsidize the kind of stores that would actually upgrade life in their neighborhood. Today block after block of vacant boarded up stores is what greets the NYU neighborhood, from 8th St. to Bleeker Street. Columbia is the same.

Universities through the US have held their actual professorship personnel stagnant while adding and adding to bureaucrats. These PMC members – Professional Managerial Class – are paid more in proportion to how much they can pay the actual content providers less. I’m told that this is as true of Harvard as it is in New York and elsewhere. It’s an economy-wide phenomenon. And the same seems to be the case in London, according to my friend Steve Keen.

Even so, the New School had to begin laying off 122 clerical and staff members in October 2020, and in 2022 there was a strike of student aides. This too has become a nation-wide phenomenon.

The GDP reports all this as soaring productivity – that is, what should be called Gross National Cost, not “product.” The New York Times article reports that Located in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country, it charges at the top end for American schools, with “an estimated total annual cost of $85,000 for a full-time undergraduate student living on campus last school year.”

That’s why President Biden says that the U.S. economy is booming!

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  1. Neutrino

    Administrative bloat is a curious case for economists.
    What drives it, from laws, fads, donor directives, student requests and/or other factors?
    An outside observer could be tempted to ask why does supply of and demand for administrators or non-teaching staff take on such a shape?

    1. juno mas

      What drives it? . . . Good Question!

      From my location at a community college in California it is all of the above. Federal law and federal funding, a student population that is both declining and in need/desire of ” special care” beyond tutoring, growth of the Adminisphere (with no commensurate growth in skill to provide positive services), and the escalation of living (housing) expenses that limits talented teachers (Adjuncts) interest in the college. The malaise you see in American society is amplified on a college campus.

      I don’t have the LATimes article at hand, but the largest state university in the nation (CSU) with over a million students graduates 35% of students in 4 years; 65% in 6 years. Most students get financial aid.

      1. Acacia

        From the horse’s mouth:


        Preliminary data released today show that the CSU’s systemwide four-year graduation rate for first-year students remains at 35%, nearly doubling the rate (19%) at the launch of the initiative in 2015.

        And 62% graduate in 6 years. Note that the words “loan” and “debt” appear nowhere in this press release. The LA Times had to dig up that nugget elsewhere. CSU is trying to tell us this is all a great improvement.

    2. Adam1

      Have you driven through a college/university campus in the last 20 years. They probably average 1 new building every 2-3 years. They aren’t adding students OR faculty at that rate so who is working in these buildings? Sadly far fewer people than you would hope, but invariable they house one or two or more “new” institutes or such for some new university priority. While some money dropped out of the sky for the building to make sure Johnny got accepted, the ongoing costs to run the building and staff these newly needed institutes becomes an ongoing school expense. Every new institute needs a 6 figure director who needs an office manager and some administrative support and then their are the student workers, research asst. etc… that must be hired to justify the institutes existence. And then there are the conferences & seminars to host and send faculty/students too to also justify the institutes existence. I’m sure others can add to the list…

      1. stretch23

        That’s exactly what happened at my undergrad college. Rice University in the ’70s had a 300 acre campus in the center of urban Houston with a delightfully open space and a student body of around 2400. Since then it has doubled its student body, becoming far less selective, increasing tuition to the mid-30s and built dozens of new buildings, including a home for the neo-con Baker Institute (to “honor” Reagan’s secretary of state, James Baker), haven for such criminal visitors as Henry Kissinger and the like. Needless to say, they have spent lavishly on a DEI bureaucracy.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And, you guessed it, the solution is more money from the state of Arizona. (Good luck with that one.)

          More news:


          Fun passage from the story:

          Universities also have a perception problem, according to these presidents. Some say they are indoctrination mills and that they cost way too much for what you get in return.

          “For most degrees, it’s just a check box that we don’t necessarily need for our profession, we just need the experience, which is more important than the actual degree itself,” said Allie Klein, a sophomore at ASU

    3. Roger Boyd

      Thats because they are economists not political economists. As soon as you put the politics back in and understand that certain groups can dominate the state and regulatory authorities then things start becoming obvious. US universities are not in a free market given that they are allowed to massively in debt individuals who are not old enough to know better while being state subsidized, and illegally organize together against the interests of their students (sorry customers!) and academic staff (the H1B scam to keep down salaries and the coordination on the size of PhD bursaries etc.).

      The rise of the PMC is just part of the neoliberalism of the academy so that the ruling class can properly control academic output, keeping it well within the hegemonic cultural limits.

      1. Paul Art

        You can say that H1B scam again. I tried teaching for about 3 years after my PhD and went running screaming back to private industry. The worst part was the cheap politics, envy, back biting etc. I got a lot of appreciation from the students but very little from the Department heavies. I still savor the look on the faces of the Department Heads when I told them I was quitting right in the middle of a Semester. They were aghast. They now hire droves of people on H1-B visas which is scandalous since the H1-B was originally introduced to hire hard to find technical people in the STEM fields in industry. I suppose we can thank the Corporate Democrats again for this new innovation. If Disney can hire unskilled workers on H1-Bs then it is pretty much open season for every other job. I taught in 4 Universities and all of them were strong bastions of Neoliberalism. I was bullied in one of them by an Asian recently tenured faculty member who hated me because I was from Industry and the students loved my teaching style and the Department Head had taken a shine to me. I complained to the Dean who did nothing and so I quit in disgust.

        1. spud

          here ya go, bill clinton stuck it to you twice.


          “The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) was an act passed by the government of the United States on October 21, 1998 (while Bill Clinton was President of the United States), pertaining to high-skilled immigration to the United States, particularly immigration through the H-1B visa, and helping improving the capabilities of the domestic workforce in the United States to reduce the need for foreign labor.[1]

          According to a history of the law by Jung Hahm for Cornell Law Review,[2] the proximal impetus for the ACWIA was that, for the first time, the H-1B quota was oversubscribed in 1997. Whereas some interests aligned with employers in industries using H-1B workers wanted to increase or even eliminate the caps on number of visas, others, specifically a vocal minority in Congress, as well as labor unions and the White House, were opposed to such expansion due to concerns about the effect on native wages and employment opportunities. ACWIA was a compromise bill hashed out in the Fall of 1998 between these competing interest groups.

          One of the ideas considered and rejected during the process was that of imposing a requirement for all H-1Bs to show that efforts had been made to recruit a native worker with the same qualifications.[3] Senator Spencer Abraham critiqued this requirement by noting that the huge amount of time taken for labor certification (the corresponding recruitment requirement for permanent immigrants) did not make sense for temporary work.[3][4]

          ACWIA was followed by the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) passed in 2000, that significantly restructured the H-1B to allow for a lot more temporary workers without any official changes to the caps, while also giving a few more years’ grace period before the cap would become binding again. “

    4. Roop Dogg

      I work in UK secondary education. My take is a key driver of our administrative bloat is litigiousness. So every time we get sued by a disgruntled family, we’ll end up in court having to prove we had written policies to guard against whatever happened, and we have documentary proof that staff knew the policies, and documented following them. My life is now a nightmare of Microsoft forms, databases and shared spreadsheets, all to do the same job as before (with more fragmented thought time available), and more than double the managers we had when I joined 15+ years ago.

    5. ddt

      David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs” has excellent explanations about administrative, including in higher education, bloat. Highly recommend reading this eye-opening book.

  2. Trees&Trunks

    More absurdities from the school world presented by Sweden.

    Last week a billionaire wanted to buy a large stake in the largest private school company in Sweden Academedia. Absurdly enough these Swedish private schools are private only in the sense that the profit goes to the owner of the school but the school is still financed by tax money.

    When real estate tycoon Roger Akelius becomes the new major shareholder in the listed school group Academedia, he emphasizes (hear and be amazed!) that the best interests of the students are more important than profit. That caused the stock to plummet.

    “If 100,000 students get new textbooks, board games and flashcards for SEK 1,000 per student, the expenses increase by SEK 100 million. It costs SEK 200 million per year to give the students a fruit every morning and the teachers a bun. Then the company cannot afford a dividend.”

    The statements caused Academedia’s stock to fall by ten percent during Wednesday and early Thursday trading. So: a school that prioritizes students and teachers is a bad school, according to the market’s way of looking at it. The absurdity of the Swedish school system cannot be summed up better than that.

    The billionaire said in the media that he wanted to invest heavily in the school and cancel dividends to the shareholders. The profit would be invested in school and education, not paid out to private owners.

    He is also against share dividends in a business that is financed with tax money.

    Partly it will only be small change, he says when I speak to him on the phone. It is not enough to save on administration and a few kroner per school meal for there to be any profit to speak of. You have to squeeze out the school even more for it to be interesting money for a capitalist.



    1. digi_owl

      Meanwhile over in Norway owners of private schools and kindergartens come up with ever more elaborate schemes involving sub-contractors they own to funnel government money earmarked for the kids into their own pockets.

  3. Mikel

    I read articles like today’s “Examining US Neocons’ Wider Black Sea Strategy” in NC and think of a whole other level of higher education crapification. To the “internets” I see your “woke” complaints and raise you the highly destructive “neocon” churnout of higher education.

    1. Martin Oline

      I have come to believe that a four year degree from a ‘higher education’ factory as four years spent in obedience school. Nothing more than little boxes made of ticky-tacky.

      1. Michael Hudson

        Yes of course. When I went to work for Continental Oil in 1968, my boss explained to me that the reason they required a PhD was that this showed the employee’s willingness and drive to work hard, and to do what was required, often on seemingly trivial but necessary projects. That was preparation for “the corporate type.” (I later was told that I was not “the corporate type,” and did not follow Conoco from New York City to Greenwich, Conn.)

        1. Martin Oline

          Michael, you are lucky that as an independent thinker you have been successful. Independent thought and action are usually punished by HR departments. I have been told by some of those with higher degrees that they had read all they could stand in college and were done with it. Being retired I am glad to have a large library to keep me company as I age. Stay well.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Please take care to preserve your library and provide for its future preservation. Our future thanks you.

          2. Adam Eran

            Never mind employment… Even Wikipedia censors. See the “Government Spending” article (straight neoclassical economics) then take a look at the ‘talk’ page.

  4. alfia

    this reminds me of the dire state of Russian universities in 1990s: leasing majority of the buildings to various businesses and miserly salaries of university staff. The situation changed almost overnight in the first decade of 2000s, when Putin came to power. For all the rubbishing by the West I always remembered this transformation and was grateful for the fact that at least the majority of public services in Russia managed to survive the wild 1990s thanks to Mr P.

  5. CA

    About American productivity, what has been startling to me is that manufacturing productivity has now been declining for 12 years. Again, manufacturing productivity is and has been declining these 12 years:


    January 30, 2018

    Manufacturing Productivity, * 1988-2023

    * Output per hour of all persons

    (Percent change)


    January 30, 2018

    Manufacturing Productivity, * 1988-2023

    * Output per hour of all persons

    (Indexed to 1988)


    January 30, 2018

    Manufacturing Productivity, * 2000-2023

    * Output per hour of all persons

    (Indexed to 2000)

    1. cfraenkel

      Productivity is not measured in things produced, but in prices sold. The time period selected starts just before the neo-lib wave of outsourcing and overseas supply chains, so one contributing factor would be a decrease in the sale prices thanks to squeezing out the profits from the supply chain. (having ‘built’ products in the 90’s, I saw this first hand. The identical components FOB HK would be half the cost of FOB Sunnyvale due to distribution markups)

      1. Roger Boyd

        Its actually much worse than reported as much of the value add produced in other nations is counted as US value add due to the wonders of Western-corporate dominated supply chains and intra-company transfer pricing. Basically the value add in the other nations has to be sold to the supply chain dominator (through brand, technology, legal and other constraints) at very low prices which then means that most of the revenue goes as profit to the head office in the US and is counted as value added.

        That’s why the West is paranoid that China will climb the technology and brand ladders to take over the supply chains and therefore reap most of the profits. If this happens the “productivity” of the US manufacturing will suddenly drop and the US current account will significantly deteriorate.

        1. skippy

          Productivity = moving some numbers from one balance sheet to another aka friction-less M – M FIRE Sector economics chortle …

  6. voislav

    I always like to tell the story of my former university. They ranked dead last in research funding in the province, so they set up a “task force” to go around the university and talk to researchers on how to attract more research funding. Everyone gave them the same answer, invest more money into support facilities, grant writing support and faculty startup funds (funds given to faculty members starting at the university).

    Of course, the university decided to start the new Office of Innovation and Research, staffed by around 15 staff under a new VP. When asked what kind of service they provide to researchers, the answer was they help publicize the research to the general public. They also had contact information for university-preferred patent lawyers. The university stayed dead last in research funding.

    1. Acacia

      Sounds typical. They must know that the rankings are determined by how many articles are published and then cited by researchers at other research institutions — not the general public, duh —, but evidently they chose to ignore that. Administrators only produce more administrators.

  7. Sue inSoCal

    I agree with you Tommy, and Yves. These aren’t club drugs. I am smdh though that drugs are not tested at raves, only narcan is given out. Kids are going to party. Secondly, the demonization and almost complete cessation of prescribed pain medications stopped nothing. Yes, these awful synthetic drugs come into this country from China, Mexico, etc. Perhaps my cynical paranoia is showing, however, since we have a plethora of alphabet agencies that should be actively involved here. These should be stopped before entrance and I don’t think it’s a complete lack of border security. Cui bono? Finally I’m not certain that the kids aren’t diagnosed as bi-polar etc for the purposes of pharma or whether they are just extremely depressed. Things are certainly are seemingly hopeless for them. Jmo

  8. Gulag

    I would argue that the primary (not the only) responsibility for the crapification of Higher education sits with professors, both part-time and full-time.

    That cadre, from full professors to part-time adjuncts perhaps need to reflect more carefully on their own internal motivations. For example, to what extent was my choice of an academic career path driven primarily by a desire for prestige, status, and influence and not simply a love of ideas or a desire to teach others.

    Intellectuals (of all political persuasions) striving to become part of the professional-managerial academic class tend to ignore or downplay the importance of their own desire to make it, thus contributing to a continuing professionalization of knowledge which has reduced the academic world to a credentialing factory now largely hated by the average citizen.

    1. Acacia

      In my experience, this varies a lot between faculty. One indicator is whether the faculty member is genuinely interested in teaching and working with students — especially undergrads —, or views teaching more as a necessary evil that enables what they really prefer to do, e.g. research. While the university indeed functions as a “credentializing factory,” it can also be a place in which young people learn critical thinking. There is something to be said for that mission, although it often, sadly, gets obscured by all the nonsense under discussion here.

    2. JonnyJames

      Sorry, the assumption that part-time adjuncts “striving to become part of the professional-managerial academic class” is ridiculous on its face. The administrators of the universities treat faculty like dirt, and academics are paid dirt as well. You seem out of touch with current reality. Did you read the article?

      Your attitude aligns with the over-paid and top-heavy university administrations.

        1. JonnyJames

          So what was your motivation for pursuing a university administration career?
          So, did you read the article? It appears not.

  9. Val

    “I got a C or C- in monetary theory for criticizing the Loanable Funds theory, and had to retake my PhD orals”

    The “B” is truly the greatest of all intellectual insults, whereas the C- suggests you’re really on to something. Kudos.

    Dear Professor, I weep tears of joy that you were not dissuaded.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Funny you should mention grades.

      I received a C- on my philosophy final because my Catholic Philosophy Teacher, Dr West, disagreed with me on the existence of a soul.

      I started with Socrates and worked my way all the way to Descartes.

      I called it, The Becnelian Philosophy, but I’m sure I’m just the last in a long line of nonmonotheists to make that argument.


      When you gonna announce your run for president, Doc?!

  10. JonnyJames

    This is personal as well: I was offered a job at a so-called public uni in California as an “adjunct”: part-time, no benefits, and required to mark papers and exams without being paid for it. The dept. chair was frank about it, and so was I: sorry, I’m from a working-class family, and I can’t afford to take this job. It’s a pretty sad state when you have to refuse a job because you can’t afford to work for free and can’t afford to pay for health insurance (extortion).
    Jacking up tuition at “public universities”, and the skyrocketing student loan debt has made entire generations of US folk debt peons. Something is badly wrong to say the least. The US is turning into a kleptocracy, or already is.

  11. skippy

    Yeah duh … how many decades ago was the term “Dumbing down America” coined, better yet the fight that was lost in academia over what an education was and due to the profit model would end up just minting cogs and widgets …

    Spelt* milk now … s/

  12. jackiebass63

    I guess I could consider myself fortunate. I graduated from a small state school in PA in 1967. Back then there was no such thing as a student loan. My tuition was $75 per semester. Books cost about $20 a semester.I stayed at home and commuted often car pooling with other students.I graduated in 4 years with no debt.Actually I was the first family member to get a college degree. My first job was teaching math for $4500 a year. My father made more than this working in the local foundry. It took 20 years before I made $20,000. My last year of teaching, 35 years on the job, I made $49,000. Between SS and my teachers pension I have made more money retired than I did working. I could have made a lot more in the private sector but don’t regret my decision to become a teacher.In todays world you couldn’t pay me enough to become a teacher.

    1. Martin Oline

      You are indeed fortunate. I have known many graduates who wanted to teach but were unable to find employment. One went to Community College and took welding classes to get a job.

    2. spud


      “The Truman Commission Report, as it is sometimes known, calls for several significant changes in postsecondary education, among them, the establishment of a network of public community colleges, which would be free of charge for “all youth who can profit from such education”.[2] The commission helped popularize the phrase “community college” in the late 1940s and helped shape the future of two-year degree institutions in the U.S.[3] The report also calls for increased Federal spending in the form of “scholarships, fellowships, and general aid”.[2] ”


      “The most compelling way to read Higher Education for American Democracy is as a visionary and progressive statement of the public purposes of American higher education. The commission declared that the work of colleges and universities could bring about “the solution of social problems,” “a fuller realization of democracy,” and “international understanding and cooperation.” To meet those goals, it called for a vast expansion of college access by eliminating all tuition and fees for the first 2 years of undergraduate study and building hundreds of new institutions across the nation. Those new opportunities would allow for the doubling of college enrollments by 1960, a breakneck annual increase of 6 percent.

      And that’s not even the most progressive part. The commission, in the thick of Jim Crow and a full 7 years before the Brown v. Board of Education decision, demanded an end to segregation in higher education and the elimination of all barriers to college access based on “race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or ancestry” to be enforced by a “universal legal mandate” that would apply to both public and private institutions.”

      But beyond basic demographics, the commissioners also lamented the exclusion of the poor.

      “The decision as to who shall go to college is at present influenced far too much by economic considerations,” they concluded. “The democratic community cannot tolerate a society based upon education for the well-to-do alone. If college opportunities are restricted to those in the higher income brackets, the way is open to the creation and perpetuation of a class society which has no place in the American way of life.”

      Adding economically disadvantaged students to the pool of collegians—much more than striking down quotas for African Americans, Jews, or even women—was the way in which enrollments would double by 1960. Categorizing them with other discriminated-against demographic groups meant that democracy itself called for a dramatic growth in the national student body. And from there, it followed that democracy itself demanded massive new public investments to make college affordable and to grow its footprint to accommodate millions of new students within a decade.”

  13. BillS

    I consider myself fortunate to have left academia at the start of the 2000s. At that time, the rot was already well established. I was at a large university in Melbourne, Oz (which shall remain nameless) , which had thrown itself into the creation of new administrative posts for managing “intellectual property”, foreign “sales” programs, foreign student retention (they were the “holy grail” being full-fee paying), and implementing new IT systems, etc. Meanwhile, academic staff were told to tighten their belts – no more uni support for going to conferences or purchasing materials for use by students. Around the time I left (2003), we were rationing printer/copier paper and teaching staff were being reduced by attrition. Moreover, it became a difficult work environment because academic staff were pitted against one another by management for the few resources that still were available. Bureaucracy and performance reviews increased building on the discontent. There was much less time to develop class notes or do research – after-hours work was almost always needed. Proposal-writing became the principal activity of the academic/research staff. As fewer than 1 in 10 proposals were ever actually funded, it became a tremendous time-suck. Many old-timers took early retirement and most who remained looked for ways out or succumbed to apathy – doing the bare minimum to draw their pay.

    Graeber would recognize this as a grave moral injury inflicted on those who would otherwise love their work. Is it any wonder that the corporatization of education has resulted in general crapification? The sociopaths rise to the top, believing that they are winning the game while those who enjoy researching and teaching are treated as expendable resources. Education is a craft that requires careful cultivation. At one time, even corporations like Bell Telephone, Xerox and IBM maintained research laboratories that generated unprecedented science and technology advances (and many Nobel prizes, when that meant something). What do we have now? Foldable smartphones?

    I left with much soul searching and entered the world of tech startups for radio systems and things have worked out pretty well. However, I would have liked to participate more in the education of the next generations. I can see that much is being lost as the older generation slowly disappears. The knowledge is just not being passed on. We are going backwards. Perhaps this is our Crisis of the Third Century.
    *end rant*

  14. James P McFadden

    The crapification goes beyond the inequality within the university structure, which is apparently modeled on neoliberal profit-driven money grabbing, a structure that pays administrators outrageous salaries to bring in rich donors who often want a legacy building with their name on it, and uses low-paid lecturers as educators to reduce costs. These ego buildings then require long-term maintenance whose costs are often drawn from the education budget, especially when bloated growth expectations for grants generated by the building are not met. The second part of crapification is with regards to the production of PhDs and papers. Graduate student and post-doc training is now emphasizing how to obtain grants rather than focusing on detailed training in the field. So we get a mass of poorly-trained PhDs whose goal is to get a grant, or publish whatever they can, rather than developing new ideas in their field. New ideas are risky — best to take the safe, status quo path. The emphasis on “production” is stressed in their indoctrination — write as many papers as possible to pad your resumes (and your advisor’s resume), and write as many proposals as possible in the grant lottery. This is what they are told they must do they want to move up the promotion ladder. So in the sciences, where grants can be sizeable dollars, a new generation of scientists are dumbed down and churned out, producing so many mediocre and crappy papers (mostly just duplicating what was already done) that no one can even keep up with the literature in their specialty. Many of these papers are basically statistical analyses, which look for a correlation, which are often not causal, and publishing without any real analysis of cause-effect — or even of the importance of the correlation. Others just repeat what was already done — getting the expected confirmation result once again. In my field, this dumbing down is starting to be reflected in low quality instruments on some billion-dollar NASA missions (James Webb is the exception, not the rule). And the university institutional politics is swinging from “publish or perish” to “win grants or perish.” So when you ask a new PhD “what is your goal?”, they reply to be a Principle Investigator — without even stating what science problem they want to solve. And lastly, apparently winning science proposal support from government institutions can be driven by the same politics that drives the MIC — i.e. awarding institutions in key states with influential politicians rather than what is the best proposal, or the best chance to improve knowledge in the field. The decline of Empire follows the decline in education – the financialization of education.

  15. Dick Swenson

    I didn’t see any detailed discussion on the abundance of “schools (?)” selling various kinds of degrees and certificates for on-line work. Employers seem to love this kind of drech.

  16. Otaku Army

    Regrettably a bit late to the conversation.

    Check out Robert Meister’s take on the financialization of the university.

    As the President of the Faculty Union of the University of California and a brilliant social analyst and theoretician, Meister started writing about the financialization of the university a decade ago.

    On UC’s use of tuition as collateral for construction bonds, see https://cucfa.org/news/tuition_bonds.php


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