The Fall of the Faculty / Benjamin Ginsberg

Posted on 2014/03/04


9780199782444The Fall of the Faculty

Powerful and stinging critique of one of the most powerful trends in academia: the shift in power to non-academic administrators. Exceptionally well written polemic that will stir controversy at universities across the country. The author is well known throughout academia, and has coauthored one of the bestselling textbooks on American government in recent history.

1. The Growth of Administration.
2. What Administrators Do
3. Management Pathologies
4. The Realpolitik of Race and Gender.
5. There Is No Such Thing As Academic Freedom (For Professors)
6. Research and Teaching at the All-Administrative University.
7. What is to be Done

Until very recently, American universities were led mainly by their faculties, which viewed intellectual production and pedagogy as the core missions of higher education. Today, as Benjamin Ginsberg warns in this eye-opening, controversial book, “deanlets”–administrators and staffers often without serious academic backgrounds or experience–are setting the educational agenda.

The Fall of the Faculty examines the fallout of rampant administrative blight that now plagues the nation’s universities. In the past decade, universities have added layers of administrators and staffers to their payrolls every year even while laying off full-time faculty in increasing numbers–ostensibly because of budget cuts. In a further irony, many of the newly minted–and non-academic–administrators are career managers who downplay the importance of teaching and research, as evidenced by their tireless advocacy for a banal “life skills” curriculum. Consequently, students are denied a more enriching educational experience–one defined by intellectual rigor. Ginsberg also reveals how the legitimate grievances of minority groups and liberal activists, which were traditionally championed by faculty members, have, in the hands of administrators, been reduced to chess pieces in a game of power politics. By embracing initiatives such as affirmative action, the administration gained favor with these groups and legitimized a thinly cloaked gambit to bolster their power over the faculty.

As troubling as this trend has become, there are ways to reverse it. The Fall of the Faculty outlines how we can revamp the system so that real educators can regain their voice in curriculum policy.

Benjamin Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for the Study of American Government, and Chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His previous books include Downsizing DemocracyAmerican Government: Power and Purpose, and We the People: An Introduction to American Politics.

“This book takes a hard, clear-eyed look, with few holds barred, at the growing number and influence of full-time administrators in colleges and universities. It recognizes the large increase in government and other demands on the bureaucracy. But it dwells on the manifest fact–too often slighted–that administrators have their own fish to fry. Let us hope that his cautionary tale has a wide impact.”-Morton Keller, Professor Emeritus of History, Brandeis University

“During my nearly 60 years as a professor, I believe this is the only comprehensive analysis of the academic civil war between the professors and the deans. Ginsberg demonstrates why and how we’re losing–or have already lost.”–Theodore J. Lowi, Professor of American Institutions, Cornell University

“Ben Ginsberg knows a thing or two about academic bureaucracy. He has had extensive experience with administrative impediments that come between his ideas and their realization. Instead of ranting, he has written The Fall of the Faculty, where he has employed his political insight to examine administrative bloat in higher education and to explain the many ways in which administrative authority has elbowed aside faculty governance in the running of today’s colleges and universities. As a recovering deanlet and one-time acting dean, I know whereof he speaks.”–Matthew A. Crenson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

“In his lacerating “The Fall of the Faculty,” Mr. Ginsberg argues that universities have degenerated into poorly managed pseudo-corporations controlled by bureaucrats so far removed from research and teaching that they have barely any idea what these activities involve. He attacks virtually everyone from overpaid presidents and provosts down through development officers, communications specialists and human-resource staffers but he reserves his most bitter scorn for the midlevel “associate deans” and “assistant deans” who often have the most direct control over the faculty. Mr. Ginsberg refers to them as “deanlets,” but at my institution they are often called “ass. deans.” The Fall of the Faculty” reads like a cross between a grand-jury indictment and a call to arms. Yet as bracing and darkly pleasurable as this call is, it is hard to imagine professors joining the resistance with so few weapons at their disposal.”–The Wall Street Journal

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