Tales from the new corporate university

Posted: 30 April 2012 in Uncategorized
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It’s hard to keep up with the examples of the selling of education in the new corporate university. Here are two recent ones.

The first is from West Virginia University, which according to John David [ht: db] has sold its economics department to the Koch brothers.

When I arrived at WVU to study economics, it was a new program staffed by moderate faculty members such as Dick Raymond, Bob Saunders, Don Purcell, Gil Rutman, Bob Britt, Jim Thompson and Leo Fishman. Benedum Professor William Miernyk, who founded WVU’s Regional Research Institute, was a key faculty member, and he became my dissertation chair as I focused on the impact of the 1950 UMWA/BCOA Mechanization Agreement.

One recent night, I dreamed that I talked to Dr. Miernyk and told him that the WVU economics area was sold to the Koch Brothers for slightly more than a half million dollars plus another quarter million for graduate students. He turned over in his grave.

The primary WVU agreement, signed by Jane Martin and Wayne King, who were recent top WVU administrators, states that WVU will hire two professors and prescribes that they will teach under the direction of Professor Russell Sobel. One of the professors would also have a joint appointment with Miernyk’s Regional Research Institute. Another component funded several doctoral fellowships and the Koch brothers also agreed to provide operating expense money to the WVU Foundation. The contract is similar to those signed by ultra conservative Grove City College and schools like Clemson. Clemson, however, may have lost the Orange Bowl to WVU but it bowled over WVU with a Koch contract that was twice as large.

The second is from the University of California-Berkeley, which according to Brad DeLong is searching for a new chancellor to “keep Berkeley great.”

The strategy that Berkeley has settled on is to seek to produce the funding stream necessary to maintain a great University by becoming a finishing school for the superrich of Asia. This may be the wrong strategy–I sometimes think so, many others think so, and you can certainly argue so.

But it is the strategy that we have.

And the worst strategy of all is to have no strategy.

A bad strategy is vastly preferable to no strategy, or to an unimplemented strategy.

So we need a chancellor who can implement the strategy that we have.

Those are just two tales among many of the selling of education currently taking place in the new corporate university.

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