Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education

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9780674016347: Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
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How can you turn an English department into a revenue center? How do you grade students if they are "customers" you must please? How do you keep industry from dictating a university's research agenda? What happens when the life of the mind meets the bottom line? Wry and insightful, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line takes us on a cross-country tour of the most powerful trend in academic life today--the rise of business values and the belief that efficiency, immediate practical usefulness, and marketplace triumph are the best measures of a university's success.

With a shrewd eye for the telling example, David Kirp relates stories of marketing incursions into places as diverse as New York University's philosophy department and the University of Virginia's business school, the high-minded University of Chicago and for-profit DeVry University. He describes how universities "brand" themselves for greater appeal in the competition for top students; how academic super-stars are wooed at outsized salaries to boost an institution's visibility and prestige; how taxpayer-supported academic research gets turned into profitable patents and ideas get sold to the highest bidder; and how the liberal arts shrink under the pressure to be self-supporting.

Far from doctrinaire, Kirp believes there's a place for the market--but the market must be kept in its place. While skewering Philistinism, he admires the entrepreneurial energy that has invigorated academe's dreary precincts. And finally, he issues a challenge to those who decry the ascent of market values: given the plight of higher education, what is the alternative?

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About the Author:

David L. Kirp is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of fourteen books, most recently Almost Home: America's Love-Hate Relationship with Community.

Review:

The monastery is colliding with the market. American colleges and universities are in a fiercely competitive race for dollars and prestige. The result may have less to do with academic excellence than with clever branding and salesmanship. David Kirp offers a compelling account of what's happening to higher education, and what it means for the future. (Robert B. Reich, University Professor, Brandeis University, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor)

Can universities keep their purpose, independence, and public trust when forced to prove themselves cost-effective? In this shrewd and readable book, David Kirp explores what happens when the pursuit of truth becomes entwined with the pursuit of money. Kirp finds bright spots in unexpected places--for instance, the emerging for-profit higher education sector--and he describes how some traditional institutions balance their financial needs with their academic missions. Full of good stories and swift character sketches, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line is engrossing for anyone who cares about higher education. (Laura D'Andrea Tyson, former Chair, Council of Economic Advisers)

David Kirp wryly observes that "maintaining communities of scholars is not a concern of the market." His account of the state of higher education today makes it appallingly clear that the conditions necessary for the flourishing of both scholarship and community are disappearing before our eyes. One would like to think of this as a wake-up call, but the hour may already be too late. (Stanley Fish, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University of Illinois at Chicago)

This is, quite simply, the most deeply informed and best written recent book on the dilemma of undergraduate education in the United States. David Kirp is almost alone in stressing what relentless commercialization of higher education does to undergraduates. At the same time, he identifies places where administrators and faculty have managed to make the market work for, not against, real education. If only college and university presidents could be made to read this book! (Stanley N. Katz, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University)

Once a generation a book brilliantly gives meaning to seemingly disorderly trends in higher education. David Kirp's Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line is that book for our time [the early 21st century?]. With passion and eloquence, Kirp describes the decline of higher education as a public good, the loss of university governing authority to constituent groups and external funding sources, the two-edged sword of collaboration with the private sector, and the rise of business values in the academy. This is a must read for all who care about the future of our universities. (Mark G. Yudof, Chancellor, The University of Texas System)

David Kirp not only has a clear theoretical grasp of the economic forces that have been transforming American universities, he can write about them without putting the reader to sleep, in lively, richly detailed case studies. This is a rare book. (Robert H. Frank, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University)

David Kirp wanders America's campuses, and he wonders--are markets, management and technology supplanting vision, values and truth? With a large dose of nostalgia and a penchant for academic personalities, he ponders the struggles and synergies of Ivy and Internet, of industry and independence. Wandering and wondering with him, readers will feel the speed of change in contemporary higher education. (Charles M. Vest, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

An illuminating view of both good and bad results in a market-driven educational system. (David Siegfried Booklist 2003-11-15)

Kirp has an eye for telling examples, and he captures the turmoil and transformation in higher education in readable style. (Karen W. Arenson New York Times 2003-11-09)

Mr. Kirp is both quite fair and a good reporter; he has a keen eye for the important ways in which bean-counting has transformed universities, making them financially responsible and also more concerned about developing lucrative specialties than preserving the liberal arts and humanities. Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line is one of the best education books of the year, and anyone interested in higher education will find it to be superior. (Martin Morse Wooster Washington Times 2003-12-14)

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