[-empyre-] Executives and corporatization

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Mon Nov 26 07:29:50 EST 2012

Sums it up, I think.



On 24 Nov 2012, at 18:30, Brian Holmes wrote:

> On 11/23/2012 07:28 PM, Susan E Ryan wrote:
>> I have witnessed the
>> escalation of university administration, both in the number of
>> administrative positions and in the rather breathtaking salaries that I
>> have heard
>> quoted to me.  These are elite corporate executives. I assume this is
>> part of the corporatization of the university, and that that is the real
>> culprit.
> Well, there has been a kind of star-system applied to professors, to the point where salary scales have been all but abandoned in many places. You can look up the salaries of professors in the UC system (public servants you know) and it's interesting to see who gets what. But of course, the star system only affects the stars, leaving everyone else with the usual wage stagnation, while the actual faculty majority, the adjuncts, get the worst deal of all. The question is indeed why, for what and for whom?
> From all I can see, the neoliberal transformation of universities over the past thirty years is effectively driven by the administrators you are talking about, who typically give themselves three-figure salaries. They come in, you see, in the wake of economic crisis, in order to make the university *more efficient* -- ha ha, which is apparently why there is a tuition spike after every major recession, including a large one right now. The administrators go before Congress every couple years to raise the level of the loans that will be guaranteed by the government, and they use the proceeds, along with corporate partnerships and financialized endowments, to preside over vast expansions.
> I think the research university should be identified as the central institution of the neoliberal knowledge-based economy. The sea-change was the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, which allowed for the patenting of publicly funded research. Corporations as well as government could then scale back their large laboratories and practice what's now called "open innovation," where relatively small amounts of seed money are enough to catalyze research processes whose results can be selectively acquired by buying out the relevant patents. In a society where, since Reagan, only business is recognized as a value, this transformation of scientific research was enough to justify running the entire university like a corporation. The star system, the corporate partnerships, the precarization of academic labor, the competition for the revenue stream of student loans, and more recently, the franchising of major university brands in Asia, are all among the results. For what? is the best question. In my view, very sadly, it's for reducing knowledge to nothing more than a function of capitalism.
> The best book I've found on this is, fittingly, entitled Academic Capitalism, by Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades. It's serious, anything but simplistic, a very impressive and wide-ranging piece of scholarship, check it out:
> http://books.google.com/books?id=Y-mISmAUa38C&printsec=frontcover
> Another good one is Chris Newfield's Unmaking the Public University, particularly the chapter "Facing the Knowledge Managers":
> http://humanities.wisc.edu/assets/misc/FacingKnowledge.pdf
> Finally, my own attempt to sum these things up:
> http://autonomousuniversity.org/content/silence-equals-debt
> No one yet has the solution to these problems, but the good thing is, over the last five years people have finally started to ask the important questions and to begin mobilizing around those questions. Student loans and corporatization are issues in themselves: but they are also part and parcel of a larger problem, which is the neoliberal development model. It can't address the problems of inequality and ecological unsustainability, and as long as it rules over the universities, we will get nothing substantial from them. A great loss, I'd say.
> in solidarity, Brian
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Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK skype: simonbiggsuk

s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/  http://www.elmcip.net/  http://www.movingtargets.org.uk/
MSc by Research in Interdisciplinary Creative Practices

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