Sometimes it seems that way. The latest example comes from the College of Saint Rose, where the president, Carolyn Stefanco, has won an award. What great accomplishment deserved recognition?
Stefanco, the president of Saint Rose, received the award two months after announcing the elimination of 23 faculty positions — many of them tenured — and 12 academic programs. She pitched the cuts, part of an attempt to fix a $9 million deficit, as a way to save money while investing in the college’s more popular programs.
Oh. “Popular” programs. I’m in one of those! Good thing I don’t have to worry about biology being shuttered, and it’s that other side of campus that’s more at risk. Who needs foreign languages, for instance? Or in another trend I see a lot of, let’s bugger philosophy. What a
joke major! Don’t you know the
purpose of college is to get a high paying job, to cite a recent exchange.
The award was for being a “disruptor”. It comes from…business. Of course.
“Disrupter,” a word native to start-up culture, typically describes someone who balks at conventional wisdom and comes out ahead. A disrupter discovers newer, better ways to run businesses and manipulate industries.
“To flourish in business these days is to make disruption and change work for you and your business,” Mike Hendricks, editor-in-chief of the Review, wrote when the paper announced the winners. “You have to recognize the need and opportunity for change and risk the status quo.”
We do need better ways to support higher education — I think faculty would welcome innovators who could shake up the status quo, because we’re getting worried. The problem is that a university is not a business, and our goal isn’t to make money — it’s to teach and learn. Coming in and disrupting education to make more money kind of ignores the whole function of the institution. It would be as if a business hired me, an academic, to “disrupt” their status quo, and I declared that I was going to “disrupt” that whole crap about profits and economics and instead redefine their purpose to be all about giving their expertise to the community. I don’t think it would go over well with the stockholders.
Unfortunately, the people who’ve been handed the reins of our universities are too often sitting their with a stockholder mentality.
Unsurprisingly, the faculty had a no-confidence vote on Stefanco. Also unsurprisingly, the board of trustees affirmed their confidence in her.