Perhaps the greatest risk inherent in the crisis on campus is to behave as if there is no crisis at all. And this is more common than we would like to think.
Plunging public investment, the overproduction of PhD degrees, and unsustainable endowment investment portfolios are not minor problems. Yet there is little in the way of actual educational reform within the university system to respond to these trends. So it is essential to have books like Prof. Mark Taylor’s Crisis on Campus explicating just how serious the situation is.
Although the book ranges over a wide variety of topics, I would like to raise some questions regarding the potential risks of academic collaboration with the private sector. Taylor candidly admits that such collaboration is one of his more controversial reform proposals.
Would an increased alliance with for-profit businesses–and therefore an increased reliance upon them–really resolve the forces driving critical trends? Or might it exacerbate them?
How can the crisis on campus be secured by alliance with something as insecure as the marketplace? I ask this in all seriousness because of three interlocking trends enclosing Taylor’s recommendation when paired with the current practices of big business:
- Unregulated pursuit of profit has led to the plunge in public investment in higher education.
- The desire for excess gain has driven the possibility of unsustainable investment returns.
- A ‘more is better’ mentality implicitly justifies an uncritical acceptance of the overproduction of PhD’s as an index of academic success.
In the pursuit of profitable technology transfer opportunities, what might be lost if the academic enterprise is governed under the model of an R&D lab?