9 thoughts on “Accountability in Academia”

  1. If universities ever become “market driven”, they’re toast. The next step is disintermediation. McKinsey U will get the top high school students and Hamburger U will get the bottom students.

  2. Please do let us know when Texas decides to get serious and does some “Accountability in CEO performance”.
    After all Matthew, if capitalism is going to save the world from its own ravages like you believe even before you’ve had your morning coffee…
    Then I suspect its CEOs must do a better job managing then say… the head of Enron or Arbusto Oil ever did.

    In other words: nibbling at the edges of nothing…
    Worse, these Texans haven’t even read the latest science on rewards:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028071.300-the-bonus-myth-how-paying-for-results-can-backfire.html

    Bonus culture has come under intense scrutiny since the ongoing financial crisis began in 2007. Many people have been outraged by the way some bankers and top executives seem to have been rewarded for failure. Others find the idea of multimillion-dollar bonuses morally abhorrent. Even US President Barack Obama has gone as far as to call large bonuses “obscene”.

    But few have asked whether performance-related bonuses really do boost performance. The answer seems so obvious that even to ask the question can appear absurd. Indeed, despite all the fuss about them, financial incentives continue to be introduced in more and more areas, from healthcare and public services to teaching and academia.

    “Economists and workplace consultants regard it as almost unquestioned dogma that people are motivated by rewards, so they don’t feel the need to test this,” says Alfie Kohn, a teacher turned writer. “It has the status more of religious truth than scientific hypothesis.”

    So it may come as a shock to many to learn that a large and growing body of evidence suggests that in many circumstances, paying for results can actually make people perform badly, and that the more you pay, the worse they perform.

  3. Higher education like everything else is in for some disruptive changes. Lots of schools are going to change or close (although a place like UT Austin is probably stable for the foreseeable future).

    On the other hand it’s hard for me to avoid the thought that the reformation efforts this report attempts to rebut are aimed, as much as anything, at getting rid of universities (and those pesky faculty) as a liberalizing influence on young Americans, in both the social and political sense. And of further proselytizing for the notion that there are no such things as communities — only commodities. So learning for example isn’t to be viewed as a community value, to be taught by joining a community that holds it in high esteem.

    What’s strange about this is that as far as I can tell all great companies are also great communities with very strong shared values and culture.

  4. McKinsey U will get the top high school students and Hamburger U will get the bottom students.

    And then Hamburger U can close down, and we’ll be back to a more sensible equilibrium on who goes to college. Lobe den Herren…

  5. Larry: “On the other hand it’s hard for me to avoid the thought that the reformation efforts this report attempts to rebut are aimed, as much as anything, at getting rid of universities (and those pesky faculty) as a liberalizing influence on young Americans, in both the social and political sense.”

    IMHO, there’s two things that the right dislikes about universities. One is that there are a bunch of liberals there, but what really burns the elites is that universities are full of people who know stuff and have the freedom to investigate and talk about things, without fear of corporate/political censorship. That’s intolerable to the right; they want to make sure that the only public freedom of speech is the odd loonie/fanatic on the street corner getting rousted by the police.

  6. Tenured academics have a better deal than almost anyone in the whole world. The question is whether or not they on average are worth it. Like many CEOs, I suspect the answer is ‘no’.

  7. Academia is a scam. While education is a worthwhile goal, it is far overpriced. Right now student loan debt outweighs credit card debt. Is it debt #1, and how many of these grads have a prayer at amortizing their debts? What a terrible fraud, and these academics are so glib about this; they should be ashamed. So surprise, there is backlash.

  8. The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a conservative think tank that promotes a free market fundamentalist ideology, and is funded through corporate interests with significant connects to Governor Perry. Basically, it’s another Koch-funded front group that is trying to modify Texas policy to favor its corporate masters. Specifically, in education, it’s a bunch of people who don’t know squat about education trying to turn Texas A&M and the University of Texas into the University of Phoenix.

    The paper Matthew cites is UT’s response to TPPF’s “breakthrough solutions” proposal.

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