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ERIC Number: EJ896353
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-1383
Perspectives: When the Centers Do Not Hold
Rosen, Lawrence
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v42 n5 p30-31 Sep-Oct 2010
During the last twenty years or so, the number of endowed centers at many universities has increased enormously--to as many as fifty or more at a single institution. There are centers for every region (or sub-region) of the world and every ethnic/religious group (or sub-group) known to history. There are centers for the study of illness and wellness, taxation, community research, ethics, aging, cultural understanding, arts policy, addiction, counterterrorism, environmental interpretation, ergonomics, value-based insurance design, entrepreneurship, and group dynamics--to choose only a few actual examples. Some are reflections of their donors' or operators' politics, whether liberal (Human Values) or conservative (Chastity and Abstinence). Some are formed in response to the politics of the campus; others are to the academy as vanity presses are to publishing. At some institutions--especially in good times--if a faculty member gets a prestigious offer, the counter-offer may be a center. Undeniably, many of these centers serve valuable purposes: They assemble people with common interests, focus attention on issues worthy of investigation and debate, and can help faculty marshal resources by adding the imprimatur of a university to their research. Some also offer certificates to undergraduates or help support graduate students' dissertation work. And it is often appropriate to establish a center rather than a more costly and permanent department in order to pursue a topic whose long-term interest has yet to be established. But even worthy centers are by no means an unalloyed benefit to their universities, and their potentially detrimental effects need to be faced squarely. At a time when the universities are strapped for funding, or even when they are flush, the ungoverned growth of centers warrants careful attention. The assumptions that more is better and that donors' gifts come without cost are simply mistaken. The author contends that it is time for universities to rethink the ways in which the benefits of centers and disciplinary development can both be maximized. They cannot uncritically assume that this is a case in every instance where the center holds.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A