Review: Universities in the Marketplace–The Commercialization of Higher Education

4 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Education (Universities)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Structured Look at University Prostitution,

June 18, 2003
Derek Bok
Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University and author of two useful books on “the state of the nation”, has done a very fine job of examining the commercialization of the university, with separate chapters on athletics (the golden goose tends to cost more to maintain than most realize, both in financial terms and in terms of negative impacts on scholarship); scientific research; and customized executive education offered on a for-profit basis.While the author concludes with some recommendations, the book is best for its reasoned discussion of the problems. The prostitution of the universities, and the blandness of undergraduate education, are issued that will not be solved by any one community, any one state, or even by Congress. This is going to require a President committed to national education and public health as the “first plank” of any national strategy to united and nurture what I think of as the “seven intelligence tribes”: national (spies and counterspies), military, law enforcement, business, academic, non-profit and media, and religions-clans-citizens.

As we have seen in time since 9-11, all of these tribes appear to be failing–national on 9-11, military in Afghanistan and Iraq, law enforcement on Hamas and Pakistani terrorists still active within the US, business in general (Boeing being had by Airbus, for example), now in this book, the universities, the failure of the media to support the debate on going to war with Iraq, and of the New York Times in ethics specifically, the self-indulgent failure of the Catholic Church to police its own priests–this is not a pretty picture. In all of this, the university is central to the creation of a public that should be fully versed in “civitas” and electing public officials who are liberally educated as well as scientifically trained. That does not appear to be happening. This book helps explain why.

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