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ERIC Number: EJ951346
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
The Escalation of Business as Usual
Tuchman, Gaye
Academe, v97 n6 p23-27 Nov-Dec 2011
An academic plan is a business plan disguised in the regalia donned for significant public ceremonies--black cap and gown, colorful hood, and, of course, gold tassel. Several years ago, the University of Connecticut started to plan for the economic disaster that was at the time so obviously in the future of higher education institutions. A formal "sunset policy" for departments was part of the academic plan enacted by UConn's board of trustees in 2008. A close look at the university's preparations to shutter academic programs reveals the continuities between past and present. It also reveals how much "corporate planning" has penetrated academe. Once upon a time, not so long ago, presidents, provosts, and deans took the position that the professoriate was participating in the elimination of academic programs. Today, at many institutions administrators set up so many constraints on the committee members whom they appoint that these committees are essentially ratifying decisions that the administrators have already made. Indeed, rather than encourage faculty participation in governance, administrators increasingly undercut faculty authority by implementing change from the top down. The bureaucratic version of this practice is more formal, seems more objective, and personifies administrative control. Specifically, the procedures to measure each department's contribution to the institution's academic plan are a splendid example of controlling the committee's decisions about outcomes by limiting the permissible inputs. A formalization of past practices that had recognized the faculty's professional status, these bureaucratic rules also explicitly shift power to administrators. Additionally, they exemplify a politics of surveillance, control, and market management that disguises itself as the scientific administration of individuals and organizations. Flexibility is central to shared governance. Without it, the faculty resembles a youngster preparing to meet the anticipated reprimand of a stern parent. However, unlike the response of the child, the faculty's account involves not moral responsibility but rather bureaucratic accountability. Administrators increasingly demand data with which to judge individual professors; they require academic departments to invent new procedures intended to please a slew of auditors. The processes associated with student outcomes assessment are an apt example. Though they often feel besieged, professors seem to believe that they must comply with these bureaucratic demands. Like the members of the retrenchment committee, they accede to the accountability regime--the politics of surveillance, control, and market management disguised as scientific administration. Exacerbated by the Great Recession, the accountability regime speeds up the transformation of the academic world. (Contains 1 table.)
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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
Identifiers - Location: Connecticut