Universities behaving badly? • Seminar for the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy • New York University • 28 February 2008 • David Watson, Institute of Education, University of London
The ethical turn • Although no one will deny that a business must be profitable, the sole pre-occupation with profit to the exclusion or neglect of other considerations is no longer acceptable. Manuel Mendonca and Rabindra Kanungo, Ethical Leadership, Open University Press (2007), p.3.
Howard Gardner et al., the “Goodwork” project. • Work that is: • of excellent technical quality; • ethically pursued and socially responsible; • engaging, enjoyable and feels good. • Responsibility at Work (Jossey-Bass, 2007), p. 5.
Conditions of “good” professional work • Alignment of: • individual beliefs; • values of the domain; • forces of the field; • reward system of the society. • Ibid, p. 8.
The ethical “idea of a university” • “The university reveals its own ethical standards in many ways, including its scrupulousness in upholding ethical standards, its decency and fairness in dealing with students and employees, and its sensitivity in relating to the community in which it resides.” Derek Bok, “Our Underachieving Colleges” (2006).
HE and the “benefit of the doubt” • Like hospitals colleges have generally got the benefit of the doubt on the question of why they cost so much, and many people still regard them as selfless institutions above and beyond the self-serving rules of the marketplace. But their reputation for probity and virtue is deteriorating fast.” Andrew Delbanco, The New York Times 30.0.07
Athletics Hazing Merit and need Endowments and independence Brokering private funding 6. Study abroad League tables Free speech? Independence in research Grade inflation US universities behaving badly: a transatlantic view
Universities behaving badly (1): students (and their sponsors) • Promotion and advice • Admissions • Merit vs. need • Condescension
Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (1998). Students these days are, in general, nice. I choose the word carefully. They are not particularly moral or noble. Such niceness is a facet of democratic character when times are good. Neither war nor tyranny nor want has hardened them or made demands upon them. The wounds and rivalries caused by class distinction have disappeared along with any strong sense of class…..Students these days are pleasant, friendly and if not great-souled, at least not particularly mean-spirited. Their primary preoccupation is themselves, understood in the narrowest sense (Bloom, 1998: 82-83).
Universities behaving badly (2): staff • Intimidation • New managerialism? • False consciousness • Academic populism
The question of civility • “Being a dean in an arts faculty is very tough. Why? Because colleagues in the social sciences and humanities have been trained to be hyper-critical. Their disciplinary expertise provides them with a toolbox of devices to dissect and unravel the implementation of the best-intended strategic initiatives. They increasingly exercise this talent in extraordinarily difficult funding environments…. They operate in an environment in which a quickly written email may generate detailed semiotic analysis and imputation of ill intent. • In the academic environment, very clever people may turn their very clever minds to negative ends. We can understand and rationalise this. It reflects in some ways colleagues' passionate commitment to their discipline, to their scholarship and their intellectual autonomy. It reflects the influence of the challenging, under-resourced environment in which we work. • But it also may reflect an unwillingness to exercise what John Paul Lederach calls the moral imagination, the ability to empathise, to build peace, in this case with those who do their best to lead.” (Sharon Bell, “The Australian” 12 September 2007)
Universities behaving badly (3): the local community • History • Facilities • “Studentification” • Planning
Universities behaving badly (4): civil society • Self-interest • Stewardship
Universities behaving badly (5): partners and “stakeholders” • Nurture and noise • Sharing risk • The public service alliance
Universities behaving badly (6): the state (and government) • Crusades • Truth-telling • Do we really want autonomy?
Universities behaving badly (7): the global community • Beyond the bottom line • HE and development • Environmental responsibility • The mirage of “world-classness”
World-classness • Statistics • Politics • Journalism
What makes a university world-class? • The objective score board • The subjective beauty contest
Shanghai Jiao Tong: 2004 and 2005 • Alumni prizes 10% • Staff prizes 20% • Highly cited researchers 20% • Science citations 20% • Soc. Sci./Humanities citations 20% • Adjustment for size 10%
THES 2005 • Peer review 40% • Employer ratings 10% • Citations per FTE staff 20% • SSR 20% • International staff 5% • International students 5%
What counts Research Media interest Graduate destinations Infrastructure International “executive” recruitment What doesn’t count Teaching quality Social mobility Services to business and the community Rural interests Other public services Collaboration The public interest World-classness
Universities behaving badly (8): the sector • A “controlled reputational range” • “Gangs” • Reputation and quality
Reputation over quality • “Institutions such as my own are outposts of serious and bright students of modest or low-income background taught by dedicated faculty who are often respected researchers as well. These institutions are home to a democratic institutional culture simply not possible at elite institutions…It is time that the national agonizing about the income bias of elite institutions shifts its focus to these institutions.” Lawrence Blum, The New York Review of Books.
Leadership issues • Emotional intelligence • Self-study • Stewardship • Security • Corporate responsibility • Joy (and mercy)