Wednesday, November 04, 2009

death throes

The CSU has been underfunded systemically for a decade or more. The campuses and the academic departments have struggled to make do, hired more contingent faculty like me, and simply had less resources and provided less service to students.

Now the CSU is under direct attack. The attack isn't coming from insane neocons like David Horowitz and his paranoid mob of anti-intellectual zealots (no link - he's unworthy of any attention). It's not coming - at least not directly - from the neocons in the legislature, who have already done their part anyway by assuring that the CSU continues to starve, slowly, to death.

No, this is an attack on the CSU by the CSU. Specifically, an attack on core programs and majors by CSU administrators. At Dominguez Hills, they're running through an accelerated program review, with whole departments on the chopping block. At Pomona, I just found out, they're going to do the same thing, with the criterion that any major with fewer than 150 undergraduate students will be put on the table for discontinuance.

The arbitrariness of the methods demonstrates pretty clearly that the future of the CSU, in these people's hands, is to become just like a for-profit proprietary technical school. They don't understand, don't respect, and will not defend the values of intellectual enterprise, for research or for teaching and learning. It's as our campus prez put it in his infamous Chronicle of Higher Ed piece a couple weeks ago. They view public higher education with any component of rigor, academic integrity, or intellectual reaching, as a privilege that neither the public, nor our students, nor the faculty, have any business expecting.

In addition, it shows how prudent they are. Do they have any reason to believe the new markets they imagine will come to the universities for technical training (rather than proprietary institutions we used to pride ourselves on not resembling)? Not that I can see.

So I'm on the philosophy teaching job market, which means I'm throwing myself to the four winds. I could end up in Buffalo, or Ohio, or British Columbia - anywhere.

That's personally distressing, of course. Being on the philosophy job market is its own kind of torture. But what's even more upsetting is that this is the result of a direct, unnecessary, opportunistic attack on the idea of public higher education, on the pretext of the budget cuts but in practice far more extensive.

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