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The Faculty Are the University

The Faculty Are the University

(p.63) 5 The Faculty Are the University
Saving Alma Mater
Ernst R. Berndt
University of Chicago Press

Modern public universities have become the organizational embodiment of Newton's Third Law, where every action prompts an equal and opposite reaction. And as forces from all directions whipsaw deans, vice presidents, provosts, and presidents, it can seem that change in the academy comes about not by planning and foresight but by an uncoordinated drifting of the center of mass; that academic leaders with a grand vision for their school will ultimately be stymied because nobody wants to follow their lead; and that, in the end, they will discover that “their success or failure may be due more to the vagaries of luck and history than their own dedication and skill.” The academic culture is a powerful force, noble and pure in its goals, that elevates the intellectual richness of the academic community and thereby enhances the environment for scholarship and learning. But to the extent that this cultural pressure consistently prevails over the need for restraint and fiscal conservatism, the results are fast-rising costs and increasingly shaky financial underpinnings.

Keywords:   public universities, college education, higher education, academic culture, academic leaders

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