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ERIC Number: EJ1081628
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-0151
Profit, Productivity, and Honors
Schuman, Sam
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, v15 n1 p41-44 Spr-Sum 2014
In an ominously steady progression over the past decades, education in general, higher education in particular, and even honors education have increasingly been contextualized in the realm of the marketplace. Cost/benefit analyses of colleges and universities are examined; institutions in terms of their price to consumers (students and their families) are compared; gainful employment statistics of graduates are cited; tuition shortfalls are lamented; college presidents, who a century ago were supposed to be intellectual and ethical leaders, have been turned into salespeople. One particularly virulent lure, which has unfortunately ensnared many institutions and those who guide them, is the temptation to measure "productivity." Obviously, colleges need to produce something, but it is far too easy to measure the production of things which are, actually, only tangential to their core mission. The "cost per credit hour" calculation: how much it costs an institution to produce each academic credit hour granted to students is often used within institutions to assess the "productivity" of academic departments or programs against each other. If the music or physics department produces a student credit hour for $1,000 while the English department costs $500 per credit, then music or physics is half as "productive" as English and thus potentially expendable. By these measures, honors programs and colleges are often branded as relatively unproductive, costing more to generate a degree or credit hour than outside honors. The question, of course, is what educational institutions are supposed to produce, and the answer is neither college degrees nor credit hours. The purpose of colleges and universities, of honors programs and honors colleges, is to produce wisdom.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A