To the editor:
I am one of the “left wing ideologues” Professors who Prof Vedder blames for the self destruction of American Higher Eduction. And guess what? I agree with most of what he says about the causes of university declines (except notably that SAT’s are measures of merit)
However, I would not point fingers at left wingers alone and broaden the blame to a critique of capitalism and the niche that higher Ed and the corporate world have carved out to continue feeding advantages to the already privileged.
The obscene endowments of the elite liberal arts colleges and the Ivies and their pipelines to political power and the riches of today’s finance industry is clear to anyone who has been a part of our education system.
Tuition costs are driven not by faculty salaries but by such basic societal trends as power (HVAC), health care and the continued decrease in state support for public education. Adding to this is the trend of philanthropy to feed the already well endowed institutions (how many billions do Stanford and Harvard need?) and the ridiculously outdated FAFSA formula and you have 1.5$ in student debt. Since when is debt “financial aid.”
Finally, there is the conservatism of faculty with regard to curriculum. Inflated, inflexible and irrelevant programs plague university curriculum. Less than 40% of students admitted finish 4 year programs in 4 years (except for the elite private), only 6 in 10 finish in 6 years. Why? Because students change majors? Double major? Triple minor? Yes. Our job as educators is to do an honest – non partisan analysis of the financial and curricular structure of our industry.
Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
Dean of Liberal Arts, Retired
Monmouth University, New Jersey