OK, this Dean Dad fella substituting for Dr. B got me a little sniffy with his first post (telling little kids easy lies about heaven is a pet peeve. Dead is gone, sugarcoating it is the first step to a life of delusions), but his latest is much more interesting and sparked some cranky comments—is it just me, or are the trolls on a hair-trigger everywhere lately?
Anyway, it’s a good snarl.
It’s not unusual for downsized or early-retired professionals to show up asking for faculty positions, thinking that we’ll be tripping all over ourselves for the opportunity to bask in their reflected glory. They present themselves as willing to take one for the greater good by settling for a job I spent years in poverty to prepare for, and felt damn lucky to get. In the few occasions in which folks like that have been hired, when I’ve been around to see it, they’ve ranged from acceptably average to constant-pain-in-the-neck. They’ve never excelled, or even risen above average. They don’t want to; as far as they’re concerned, they paid their dues in ‘the real world,’ and they’re coasting across the finish line by teaching. No, thanks.
I have never been on the administrative side of academia where those kinds of decisions are made, but I’ve met a few people that match that description. They think because they had successful careers and rose to bank president or regional manager of a department store or whatever, all commendable accomplishments and good on you, etc., that they now have exactly the right stuff to inspire and train college students. Nuh-uh. Stay away. If you ask me, they are exactly the wrong people to bring in to the university.
We already have a perception problem, with the increasing commodification of college degrees and the narrow b-school mentality that says the measure of the worth of an education is in how well it profits the students after graduation…where profit is measured only in how many more pennies the person will earn. People who have found happiness in the prosperity of the upper middle class tend to be superficial and uninteresting. Give me instead beach bums and street poets and activists who’ve found something of worth in the unconventional, and that’s where you’ll find deeper inspiration for students. Unfortunately, they’re also not the kind to collar college administrators and inspire them with tales of fat donations.
Oh, and do look at the comments. I’ve also noticed that those people who are most proud of their bourgeois accomplishments can be awfully thin-skinned when others are unimpressed with the size of their money-pile and the hard work they put into acquiring it.