Tuesday, February 02, 2010

One of Many Problems with Higher Education Today

The New Mexico Independent notes that the New Mexico state Senate yesterday voted to confirm a group of University of New Mexico regents to another term.

Why is this such a big deal? Because UNM is on the front lines of everything wrong with higher education. Because the faculty gave a vote of no confidence against the confirmation of Jamie Koch by a vote of 482-7. And no one cared. A few senators stood  up for the faculty, but Koch was confirmed by a 31-5 vote.

What's so bad about Koch and the current administration. For one, they don't care about students. Two, they are looking to corporatize the university as fast as possible. Three, they flat out told the humanities that they don't matter anymore.

But perhaps the biggest issue is the reallocation of priorities to non-necessary functions. For instance:

The cost of administration at UNM had jumped to $8.2 million in 2008, up from $2.6 million in 2002, Dr. Tim Lowery, a UNM professor, told lawmakers sitting on the Senate Rules Committee Monday morning.


Opponents in a Senate committee hearing held early Monday, and later on the Senate floor, complained that the university had become politicized during Koch’s tenure as president of UNM board of regents and that top administrators’ pay had skyrocketed compared to spending on some student-focused programs. They also lamented the university’s 44 percent graduation rate and pointed to the falling faculty-to-student ratio at UNM. The teacher-student ratio has fallen from around 15 to 1 in 1998 to 21 to 1 in 2008.

No one has done more to corporatize UNM than Koch. One state Senator put it bluntly:

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, said the battle over Koch’s nomination boiled down to a central tension between two “very different ways in how a university operates.”
“We’ve moved into a corporate model,” Ortiz y Pino said on the floor of the Senate, where Koch’s nomination was sent following the Rules Committee’s recommendation that he win confirmation. “The regents are the corporate board and they work with the senior management. That’s certainly a model well established in industry. It’s a new model for the university.”

Precisely. And we see how well this corporate model of running the economy has worked. High unemployment, enormous bonuses for top executives, outsourcing everything possible, opposing national health care that would lower insurance costs for both employer and employee, a total lack of oversight, etc., etc.

Yep, that's the modern university. Modeled after failed corporate models that benefit the few at the expense of the many.