University budgets are getting cut left and right. There’s a debate about this going on at my university right now. I hear conversations about the lack of funding, the economic crisis, and the need to cut programs. I also hear conversations where words like “productivity” and “performance” and “economic viability” are being thrown around a lot. Sure, I understand the fact that we are facing some pretty bad economic times. And I understand the need to rethink how we are financing the university. Completely understand. But, at the same time, when I hear people talking about cutting programs and reshaping the university based primarily upon economic performance…well, that’s when it’s really time to pay attention to what this all means. If the only ones who survive university budget cuts are those who can demonstrate that they are “making money” for the university, I don’t think that bodes well for the university system as we know it.
Ya, as if that’s something we didn’t already know.
In the spirit of not letting to university go down that road (any more than it already has), please read through this 2010 essay about the importance and value of the humanities: A Faustian bargain, by Gregory A. Petsko.