“There is more at stake here than metrics. Benjamin Ginsberg views this shift in governance as the rise of what he calls ominously the ‘the all administrative university,’ noting that it does not bode well for any notion of higher education as a democratic public sphere.2
“A number of colleges and universities are drawing more and more upon adjunct and non-tenured faculty - whose ranks now constitute one million out of 1.5 million faculty - many of whom occupy the status of indentured servants who are overworked, lack benefits, receive little or no administrative support and are paid salaries that increasingly qualify them for food stamps.3
“…Universities are increasingly becoming dead zones of the imagination, managed by a class of swelling bureaucrats, inhabited by faculty who constitute a new class of indentured, if not sometime willing, technicians, and students who are demeaned as customers and saddled with crippling debts.
“Not all faculty and students fit into this description. Some raise their voices in protests, others enjoy the benefits of being accomplices to power, and others get lost in the orbits of privatized interests or academic specialization.
“The university is a site of struggle and beset by many contradictions, but I don't believe it is an exaggeration to say that higher education since the late 1970s has been hijacked by a mix of political and economic fundamentalist forces that have worked hard to empty it of what it means to truly educate young people to be knowledgeable, critical, thoughtful and sensitive to the plight of others and the larger society.
“Most importantly, higher education too often informs a deadening dystopian vision of corporate America and old-style authoritarian regimes that impose pedagogies of repression and disciplined conformity associated with societies that have lost any sense of ethical responsibility and respect for equality, public values and justice.
“The democratic imagination has been transformed into a data machine that marshals its inhabitants into the neoliberal dream world of babbling consumers and armies of exploitative labor whose ultimate goal is to accumulate capital and initiate faculty and students into the brave new surveillance/punishing state that merges Orwell's Big Brother with Huxley's mind-altering soma…
“The transformation of higher education into an adjunct of corporate control conjures up the image of a sorcerer's apprentice, of an institution that has become delusional in its infatuation with neoliberal ideology, values and modes of instrumental pedagogy. Universities now claim that they are providing a service and in doing so not only demean any substantive notion of governance, research and teaching, but also abstract education from any sense of civic responsibility.
“Higher education reneged on enlightenment ideals and lost its sense of democratic mission, but it also increasingly offers no defense to the ‘totalitarianism that haunts the modern ideal of political emancipation.’17
“Driven by an audit culture and increasingly oblivious to the demands of a democracy for an informed and critical citizenry, it now devours its children, disregards its faculty, and resembles an institution governed by myopic accountants who should be ashamed of what they are proud of.
“The university needs to be reclaimed as a crucial public sphere where administrators, faculty and students can imagine what a free and substantive democracy might look like and what it means to make education relevant to such a crucial pedagogical and political task. This could be a first step in taking back higher education as a precondition for developing a broad-based social movement for the defense of public goods, one capable of both challenging the regime of casino capitalism and re-imagining a society in which democracy lives up to its promises and ideals.”