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Wrestling the Military-Academic Complex
By Nicholas Turse, May 2, 2000

The reach of the military-academic complex goes far beyond schools like West Point and Annapolis; today almost 350 civilian universities conduct Pentagon-funded research.

Since 1961, thanks to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, we've all been cognizant of the "unwarranted influence" of the military-industrial complex in America. Later in that decade, Senator J. William Fulbright spoke out against the militarization of academia, warning that, "in lending itself too much to the purposes of government, a university fails its higher purposes," and called attention to the existence of what he termed the military-industrial-academic complex or what historian Stuart W. Leslie has termed the "golden triangle" of "military agencies, the high technology industry, and research universities."

While we might intuitively accept the existence of a military-academic complex in America, defining and understanding it has never been simple ­ both because of its ambiguous nature and its dual character. In actuality, the military-academic complex has two distinct arms. The first is the official, out-and-proud, but oft ignored, melding of the military and academia. Since 1802, when Thomas Jefferson signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy, America has been formally melding higher education and the art of warfare. The second is the militarized civilian university ­ since World War II and the emergence of the national security state, civilian educational institutions have increasingly become engaged in the pursuit of enhanced war-making abilities.

In 1958, the Department of Defense spent an already impressive $91 million in support of "academic research." By 1964, the sum had reached $258 million and by 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, $266 million. By 2003, however, any of these numbers, or even their $615 million total, was dwarfed by the Pentagon's prime contract awards to just two schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University that, together, raked in a combined total of $842,437,294.

War-Making U or U Make War?

West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy. The mere mention brings to mind a vision of dashing, broad-shouldered, square-jawed, straight-laced cadets in sharp uniforms (or perhaps the shadowy specter of rampant sexual harassment and rape), but if, when it comes to military education, you're only considering the big-3 service academies with the Merchant Marine Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, and private schools like The Citadel thrown in for good measure, think again!

As it turns out, the military and the Department of Defense (DoD) have an entire system of education and training institutions and organizations of their own, including the many schools of the National Defense University system (NDU): the National War College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the School for National Security Executive Education, the Joint Forces Staff College, and the Information Resources Management College as well as the Defense Acquisition University, the Joint Military Intelligence College ­ open only to "U.S. citizens in the armed forces and in federal civilian service who hold top secret/SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearances" ­ the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Naval War College, Air University, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Marine Corps University and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, among others. In fact, scholar Chalmers Johnson has noted in his new book on American militarism, The Sorrows of Empire, that there are approximately 150 military-educational institutions in the U.S.

While the service academies train a youthful corps of tomorrow's military officers, enrolled in the schools of the National Defense University are a group of selected commissioned officers, with approximately 20 years of service, and civilian officials from various agencies, including the Department of Defense, who are schooled in a curriculum that emphasizes "the development and implementation of national security strategy and military strategy, mobilization, acquisition, management of resources, information and information technology for national security, and planning for joint and combined operations." Further, good old NDU sustains the golden-triangle military agencies, the high technology industry and research universities by "promot[ing] understanding and teamwork among the Armed Forces and between those agencies of the Government and industry that contribute to national security." To this end, the school also opens spots to "industry fellows" from the private sector who, says NDU president and Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn, "bring ideas from industry to the Defense Department."

Joe College Gets Drafted

In 2002, NDU's budget topped out at $102.5 million ­ about what MIT alone received from the DoD... in 1969. While the formal military-academic complex of service academies and DoD institutions is a massive educational apparatus, its size, scope and cost pale in comparison to those in the increasingly militarized civilian higher educational structure.

During World War II, as historian Roger Geiger has noted, educational institutions carrying out weapons development not surprisingly received the largest government research and development contracts. Six of them, in particular, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University, received the then-massive sums of more than $10 million each. Following the war, military entities such as the Office of Naval Research (ONR) sought to establish, strengthen and cultivate relationships with university researchers. By the time the ONR officially received legislative authorization to begin its work in August 1946, it had already entered into contracts for 602 academic projects employing over 4000 scientists and graduate students. Academia has never looked back.

For example, at the close of World War II, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the nation's largest academic defense contractor. By 1962, physicist Alvin Weinberg sarcastically remarked that it was becoming difficult to figure out if MIT was a university connected to a multitude of government research laboratories or "a cluster of government research laboratories with a very good educational institution attached to it." By 1968, a year after Fulbright coined the phrase "military-industrial-academic complex," MIT already ranked 54th among all U.S. defense contractors. In 1969, its prime military contracts topped $100 million for the first time. By 2003, that number had grown to $514,230,083, good enough to make the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the 48th largest defense contractor in the United States.

But MIT is far from alone. Today, the scale of interpenetration of military projects and academia is as dizzying as it is sweeping. According to a 2002 report by the Association of American Universities (AAU), almost 350 colleges and universities conduct Pentagon-funded research; universities receive more than 60% of defense basic research funding; and the DoD is the third largest federal funder of university research (after the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation).

The AAU further notes that the Department of Defense accounts for 60% of federal funding for university-based electrical engineering research, 55% for the computer sciences, 41% for metallurgy/materials engineering and 33% for oceanography. With the DoD's budget for research and development skyrocketing, so to speak, to $66 billion for 2004 ­ an increase of $7.6 billion over 2003 ­ it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Pentagon can often dictate the sorts of research that get undertaken and the sorts that don't.

The power of the Pentagon extends beyond an ability to frame or dictate research goals to significant parts of our civilian education establishment. Higher education's dependence on federal dollars empowers the DoD to bend universities ever more easily to its will. For example, as Chalmers Johnson notes, until August 2002, Harvard Law School "managed to bar recruiters for the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the military because qualified students who wish to serve are rejected if they are openly gay, lesbian or bisexual." However, thanks to a quick reinterpretation of federal law, the Pentagon found itself able to threaten Harvard with a loss of all its federal university funding, some $300 million, if its law school denied access to military recruiters. Unable to fathom life ripped from the federal teat, Harvard caved, ushering in a new era of dwindling academic autonomy and growing military control of the university.

But the Department of Defense isn't only about the stick. As noted above, it spends most of its time directing research by bestowing plenty of carrots, in the form of money and, sometimes indirectly, "credentials" (that lead to money). Take the National Security Agency (NSA), the DoD-allied intelligence organization that runs the National Cryptologic School which "serves as a training resource for the entire Department of Defense." In addition to listening in on the globe and running its own school, the NSA doles out a seal of approval, in the form of a CAE designation ("Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education") that puts other schools in the running for lucrative DoD "Information Assurance Scholarship Program grant awards." For 2003-2004, some 36 civilian schools and 4 military learning centers earned CAE honors. These include long-time DoD stalwarts like Stanford University, big state schools like the University of California at Davis and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and lesser-known institutions like New Mexico Tech, West Virginia's James Madison University and Vermont's Norwich University (the self-professed "oldest private military college in the United States").

The NSA, however, has to share the spotlight with a host of other military, militarized, or intelligence agencies and subagencies when it comes to the military-academic action. The credo of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Maryland, for instance, is "delivering science and technology solutions to the warfighter" which it strives to do by "put[ting] the best and brightest to work solving the [Army's] problems" by employing "a variety of funding mechanisms to support and exploit programs at universities and industry." The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) is also high on "University relationships" that provide it with "an excellent recruitment resource for high-caliber graduate and undergraduate students." Its SPAWAR Systems Center in Charleston, S.C, alone, has cooperative agreements with Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, The Citadel, the College of Charleston, Old Dominion University, North Carolina State University, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, the University of Central Florida and North Carolina A & T State University.

March (and April and May and June and...) Madness

With the NCAA's "March Madness" just behind us, perhaps it's a perfect moment to reflect on college national champions. As always, the basketball crown was decided by a simple elimination tournament that gave us a clear winner (unlike the 2003 NCAA Division I Football season which ended in a split decision). In keeping with the spirit of crowning college champs, Tom Dispatch offers its own national championship series, the DoD Bowl!

The college hoops tourney is always replete with a Cinderella squad ­ a small-time five that shocks the field of sixty-five by knocking out a few top teams. In a Tom Dispatch tournament, these might be schools from the DoD's "Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions Infrastructure Support Program." Such institutions don't get the big dollars of a national powerhouse, but they get modest awards to "enhance programs and capabilities at these minority institutions in scientific disciplines critical to national security and the DoD." Under this program, researchers at Oglala Lakota College, Si Tanka University (chartered by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), Sitting Bull College and the College of Menominee Nation, among others, were designated for grants ranging from $76,000 to $400,000.

Of course, grants of this size are small potatoes when it comes to the DoD. "Big time" schools get a whole lot more. As such, the DoD Bowl seems like a perfect place to settle a matter that failed to be resolved on the gridiron last season. Just who is the national champion ­ LSU or USC? Late last year three Louisiana State University units ­ its Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices, the Advanced Materials Research Institute at the University of New Orleans, and the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at the LSU Health Sciences Center ­ received the first installments of a $7.5 million, five-year project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. But even with a big chunk of DARPA-bucks, LSU can't touch USC! If the football national championship could be decided by DoD cash, the University of Southern California would win it hands down. Not only is USC the site of the Institute for Creative Technologies, a $45 million joint Army/USC venture begun in 1999 and designed to link the military ever more tightly to academia and the entertainment and video game industries, but last year USC received nearly $35 million in DoD Contract Awards for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E). And even with that, USC ranked only 74th on the DoD's Top 100 list of RDT&E awardees, while poor LSU didn't even make the list.

While almost $35 million in research dollars isn't chump change, it doesn't come close to winning you the DoD bowl. And while USC beats its rival the University of California system, which rakes in only $29.8 million in RDT&E awards, it can't top Carnegie Mellon's $59.8 million and the University of Texas system's $86.6 million. None of these schools can touch Penn State, which, at number 27 on the list, handily trumps them all with a total of $149 million in RDT&E awards. Still, even Penn State has a long way to go to win it all.

Two schools are consistently tops in RDT&E money and have, in the past, duked it out for numero uno. In 2002, Johns Hopkins University ($363,342,491) bested MIT ($354,932,746) by less than $900,000, the equivalent of an inch in your basic fourth-quarter goal line stand in football! In 2003, though, it wasn't even a contest. Last year MIT raked in a whopping $512,112,618 in RDT&E dollars to Johns Hopkins' positively puny $300,303,097, making it the clear-cut national champion! No polls needed!

MIT's numbers were good enough to rank it as 11th on the DoD's 2003 RDT&E Top 100 list. But even that ranking doesn't convey the full dominance of this champion. At 23 on the RDT&E Top 100 list is the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit originally made up of several hundred MIT employees and formed in 1958 to create new technologies for the Department of Defense. Today, MITRE provides engineering and technical services to the federal government through three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) ­ one of which, the DOD Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence FFRDC, happens to serve the Department of Defense. Moreover, MITRE, itself, is thoroughly wrapped up in the military-academic complex. It provides support to a "broad base of customers within the DOD and intelligence community," while "organizing and managing the first-of-its-kind Northeast Regional Research Center (NRRC) for the Advanced Research and Development Activity," which includes among others Brandeis University, Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the State University of New York-Buffalo, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Rochester and Syracuse University. Talk about webs within cogs within wheels!

With all this work for the DoD, MITRE rakes in a cool $186,389,105 in RDT&E awards. And if the funding dollars of MIT's offspring are added to MIT's total, the resulting $698,501,723 would move MIT out of the college bowl game entirely and into the charmed circle of top 10 defense contractors, including the likes of defense industry giants General Dynamics and Lockheed-Martin.

Academia's Unnoticed Identity Crisis

Even without MITRE's money added in, MIT's Pentagon-financed research dollars make it look more like a military-industrial giant than an educational institution ­ a far more severe identity crisis than the one Alvin Weinberg hinted at back in 1962. But, while MIT might be the champ, it's only a small part of the story ­ about 1/350th of it. Today, the Pentagon not only runs a massive educational apparatus of its own, but with its enormous budget and arm-twisting ability, it can increasingly bend civilian higher education to its will. There is, however, little awareness of this influence, let alone outcry over it. Instead, the militarization of academia reaches new levels ­ unnoticed and unabated.

The military-academic complex is merely one of many readily perceptible, but largely ignored, examples of the increasing militarization of American society. While the Pentagon has long sought to exploit and exert influence over civilian cultural institutions, from academia to the entertainment industry, today's massive budgets make its power increasingly irresistible. The Pentagon now has both the money and the muscle to alter the landscape of higher education, to manipulate research agendas, to change the course of curricula and to force schools to play by its rules.

Moreover, the military research underway on college campuses across America has very real and dangerous implications for the future. It will enable or enhance imperial adventures in decades to come; it will lead to new lethal technologies to be wielded against peoples across the globe; it will feed a superpower arms race of one, only increasing the already vast military asymmetry between the United States and everyone else; it will make ever-more heavily armed, technologically-equipped, and "up-armored" U.S. war-fighters ever less attractive adversaries and American and allied civilians much more appealing soft targets for America's enemies. None of this, however, enters the realm of debate. Instead, the Pentagon rolls along, doling out money to colleges large and small, expanding and strengthening the military-academic complex, and remaking civilian institutions to suit military desires as if this were but the natural way of the world.

Turse is a contributor to Tomdispatch.


A University Is Not a Business (and Other Fantasies)
© 2004 Milton Greenberg EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 2 (March/April 2004): 10-16.

Milton Greenberg < mgreenb -- @ -- american edu>is professor emeritus of government at American University, where he served as provost and interim president.

Academe emerges from—and largely remains within—a culture that sees only a remote and sometimes hostile relationship between its activities and the economic system. This view takes the form of an often-heard campus expression: "A university is not a business."

This spirit was captured when the Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein wrote about a business founded on the idea that the academy should end its practice of having thousands of professors of varying skills teach the same course on every campus across the country. Instead, colleges and universities could use simple technology (i.e., a CD) to provide students with presentations by truly outstanding lecturers of regularly taught courses, with on-campus faculty serving as tutors and discussion leaders. This would promote both excellence and economies of scale. But Pearlstein found that this idea "was not exactly welcomed by an establishment that prides itself on remaining a quaint cottage industry." After conducting a live online discussion of his column and receiving numerous e-mails, Pearlstein subsequently reported a general hostility from the higher education establishment — which, he noted, considers learning "too special to be run like a crass business enterprise."1

Although these words would likely not surprise readers of EDUCAUSE Review, it was surprising to find them on the front page of the business section of a major national newspaper. Pearlstein had challenged the basic faith of the academy—the belief that higher education is not a business. Presumably, a "business" involves the hierarchical and orderly management of people, property, productivity, and finance for profit. The "not a business" mantra arises on a campus whenever an administrator expresses concern over a program that is losing money or whenever a governing board suggests that the faculty be better managed or supervised in their work. Any mention of such matters will call forth the faculty judgment that the administration has a corporate mentality and is treating the university like a business, the ultimate sin.

Some confusion on this issue lies in the fact that the substance of teaching, research, and learning — protected by academic freedom and professional standards — is not ordinarily subject to profit-and-loss analysis. Conflict arises because the academy also presumes that the process by which its practices and customs are carried out should be cloaked in the same doctrine of faith. The underlying premise is that the application of managerial practices (i.e., personnel and fiscal controls, known as "administration") in the conduct of the academic enterprise will infiltrate faculty prerogatives and restrict the freedom to teach and learn. Faculty are the protectors and explicators of the true faith, which must be defended against potential infidels, including their own administrators, who "think about nothing but money." Management is a four-letter word on campus, a strange posture for one of the largest and costliest enterprises in the United States.

Yet numerous realities define the business nature of higher education. Consider the attention paid to the ratings game (best exemplified by the competitive hysteria regarding the annual rankings published in U.S. News & World Report), the close ties between research universities and the business and industrial community, the semi-professional athletic programs and the accompanying Taj Mahal physical plants, faculty and graduate student labor unions and strikes, the corporate - like salaries of college and university executives, and the huge competition among all schools, public and private, to recruit students. Is there any other state-tax-supported function that competes for customers from other states? ("Come to our state for better welfare benefits"?)

One sure-fire indicator of the commercial value of higher education is the rise of accredited for-profit institutions, offering both on-site and distance education degrees. These institutions eschew the academic myths of faculty prerogatives and the fears of business-like operations. For-profit enrollments and successful returns on the stock market indicate that higher education can be quite lucrative. Congress, in its 2004 review of the Higher Education Act, is devoting increasing attention to how for-profit schools fit into national needs and can be accommodated with easier access to student financial aid. And a university is not a business?

Once largely small and private, higher education now manifests itself as huge, multifaceted universities, creatures of and dependent on the state. About 80 percent of higher education enrollments are in publicly funded institutions, and almost all so-called private colleges and universities are equally dependent on governmental largess for student aid and research grants. Is it any wonder that legislative monitoring of educational and managerial practices in colleges and universities is steadily increasing? Congress, state legislatures, and public regulatory agencies are watching, more carefully than ever, the operating procedures of higher education institutions. They seek accountability for funds spent, students served, learning achieved, and research produced, and they look for results in terms of students graduated, jobs secured, and public benefits earned. A startled and resistant academy's cries of "We are not a business!" are predictable and deafening.

State and national political leaders and boards of trustees, public and private, are growing impatient with the seemingly insatiable demands for public investment in higher education and with the academy's resistance to change or to supervision of its practices and outcomes. In the new reality of state-sponsored universal higher education, claims that education is not a business are seen as cloaks for behaviors and expenditures that violate reasonable expectations of responsibility and accountability. It is not surprising that in state after state, public funding has moderated or decreased precipitously and tuitions in state and private colleges and universities have risen steadily over the years irrespective of the economy. In 2003, this phenomenon achieved high recognition when tuitions in public institutions jumped as high as 30-40 percent in one year.

Typically, the academic bureaucracy responded to the tuition crisis by calling for more student aid, with barely a word uttered about doing things differently on campus. In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, two academic economists, Robert Archibald and David Feldman, asserted: "Our universities are not inefficient institutions built on a bad business plan." Rather, they argued, colleges and universities are the victims of lack of adequate public political and financial support.2

So, what things should colleges and universities be doing differently? It borders on trite to say that higher education is in the midst of an information technology revolution, but one would hardly know it from observing the dominant practices that characterize mainstream higher education. Carole Barone, vice-president of EDUCAUSE, summarizes this lag by noting the slow adaptation to technology and to an understanding of the new paradigm of the central teaching/learning function: "The course is not the container; teaching 'space' is not a physical place; and 'personal' does not mean 'in person.' "3

Considerable adaptation to technology has taken place, of course. Numerous colleges and universities—public and private, nonprofit and for-profit—operate virtual campus programs, with courses and degrees offered completely online. Much is also happening in the use of technology in individual courses on most campuses. And students have little difficulty with the concept. Still, the major higher education institutions are caught in a time warp. Teaching and learning tend to be served up in the same old containers, in the same old spaces, using the same old concept of face-to-face interpersonal relationships.

The central organizing principle of this "same old" academic life takes the form of an academic calendar attuned more to an agrarian society than to an urban culture, much less to an environment of information technology available twenty-four hours per day, every day, anywhere. The academic year consists of two semesters of 15 weeks each, with courses meeting for 150 minutes a week, at 50- or 75-minute intervals, spaced on Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday. Faculty assignments and everything else on campus are geared to this model. Faculty teaching loads are generally two or three courses per semester. It is also assumed that students can and ought to take about five (usually unrelated) three-credit courses per semester so that a bachelor's degree can be earned in four years—which rounds out nicely to about 120 credit hours in 120 weeks. Yet with less than half the students graduating in that time (and many not finishing at all) and with perhaps half pursuing their degrees at two or more institutions (including credits earned online from separate institutions), even the dominant academic calendar appears to be a meaningless fiction. One can't help seeing the appeal, to students and prospective faculty alike, of the very successful and accredited online universities and programs, which advertise that their virtual classroom and degree programs are available twenty-four hours a day anywhere in the world and that courses start every week.

Few people have any idea how the semester and credit-hour pattern came about. Nor has any serious effort been made to assess how learning is related to those time patterns or credits, much less to the place or space in which learning is presumed to take place.4 Until the 1960s, the academic year consisted of two eighteen-week semesters for a total of thirty-six weeks, and faculty teaching loads of four or five courses per semester were not unusual. So, with the surge in enrollments and an explosion in information, why were the semester lengths and the teaching loads reduced? I suggest that in light of the demographic and technological changes in academe, the academic calendar is irrelevant, the credit hour on which higher education values learning at fifty minutes per credit per week for fifteen weeks is irrelevant, and the personnel policies, the administrative structures, and even the physical plants—which rest on the calendar and the credit hour—are irrelevant. Whatever purposes these systems serve, there is certainly no demonstrable relationship to what and how people learn.

Relying on the higher education establishment to recognize this reality won't work. Consider, for example, its slow adaptation to a long-standing and growing public demand for assessment of learning and for some demonstration of outcomes. This is not a case of malfeasance so much as it is confusion among faculty and administrative leaders who are constrained by a natural resistance to change, a resistance buttressed by an institutional governance structure that makes alterations difficult.

Before significant change can take place, colleges and universities must shed the mythology of a perceived romantic age of higher education. Before World War II, colleges were mainly small, elite, rural, private, religious undertakings, graduating each year in the United States about 160,000 students, mostly white males, eighteen to twenty-two years old, educated in liberal arts for careers in the learned professions. After WWII, the golden age of the GI Bill (1944-55) stimulated growth in enrollments. But it was not until the late 1950s and 1960s that huge, publicly funded, urban, multicultural institutions emerged. Large numbers of contemporary faculty began their service during the 1960s and 1970s and perceived the growth as merely an extension of what had always been. That faculty generation, now dominant in the academy, has emulated the teaching and research patterns and the faculty governance concepts of their graduate schools irrespective of the student bodies or the missions of their present institutions. Today, more than 15 million undergraduate and graduate students (including more women than men and increasing numbers of minority or foreign students) are enrolled in higher education institutions in the United States, and that number is projected to grow above 17 million within the decade. About 1.3 million bachelor's degrees are awarded annually, plus an equal amount of associate, graduate, and professional degrees combined. Large numbers of undergraduate students are twenty-five years of age or older. One consequence of this enormous "invasion" of higher education is that the academy has lost its mystery as a distinct cultural enclave open to only a few. To put it another way, students today see higher education as a means to an end and are less apt to buy into academic beliefs regarding knowledge for its own sake and other romantic educational traditions.

Liberal arts, the staple of bygone years and part of the romantic tradition, now serve mainly as handmaidens to undefined "general education" components of technical or professional degrees. Liberal arts are merely one of many available college and university majors covering almost every line of work, to such an extent that no one knows what is meant by a college education or what public good is being served. Jobs, not cultural and personal development, are now the goals stated by college students in repeated surveys. This is a climactic shift and explains, in large measure, why questions are being raised regarding the balance between the public good and the individual benefits served by higher education and why reliance on tuition rather than public subsidy is becoming the norm. Who indeed should be paying for the business of higher education? This is an important question, since higher education has traditionally been considered a public good to be paid for by taxation from all people, most of whom do not partake in its benefits.

As new demands for service develop in terms of numbers of students and subject matters, how do academic leaders respond? They call for more public financial support so that they can offer more courses on more campuses, build more buildings including larger libraries, hire more faculty, and develop more student service facilities, most of which are fitting for a bygone era. Residence halls, student centers, dining areas, and especially sports-related facilities are now some of the fanciest and costliest places on campus—all needed, it is claimed, to attract students. Even though almost half of all students are mature adults for whom most of these facilities are of dubious need or value, they are expected to support the facilities with tuition and fees.

We hear regular cries about the need for more scientists, mathematicians, language specialists, and engineers to meet our national and international interests. College and university leaders predictably ask Congress for more money to accomplish that goal. What we do not ever hear is colleges and universities saying that they will transfer resources from under-enrolled arcane subject matters, or from over-enrolled graduate degrees for which jobs are not available, to programs that will better serve the public interest. Nor are we likely to see a shifting of funds from mushrooming and overdone physical plants or from clearly overblown athletic programs.

One might expect that an institution that is not meeting admitted national needs and is claiming financial problems, an institution that was presumably established to serve the public good, would seek to reinvent itself, modify its practices and products, and review its use of personnel, space, technology, and other resources—in other words, would take a look at its business practices. Academic institutions are neither inclined nor structured to take such actions. The governance patterns of higher education are rooted in the academy's commitment to dreams of academic life isolated from such mundane concerns and have resulted in highly honed passive resistance to change. Each institution, in cottage-industry style, thoroughly decentralized, insists on doing what every other institution does: ignoring specialization or cooperation and ignoring technological applications to learning and other potential economies of scale. The mere mention of eliminating some academic or co-curricular programs or establishing cooperative inter-institutional programs is tantamount to a declaration of war.

Central to the doctrine of the university as a non-business and to its independent cottage-industry format is the tenure system, which rejects the notion of the faculty as employees subject to managerial control, presumes faculty primacy in program matters and shared governance, and virtually ensures lifelong employment for faculty. It is not surprising that tenure is viewed by reformers as an impediment to reform irrespective of changes in the purposes or methods of higher education. In the tenure system, there is no compulsion on the part of the faculty to change. Nor is there any method available to administrators or legislators to compel change, short of creating enormous transactional costs in terms of morale, lawsuits, and campus conflict. Although it is argued that tenure is essential for academic freedom, the result is job security, essentially free of supervision, for a select few in society. It is no accident that during the past decade, since the advent of the widespread use of technology for on-campus and distance education, more than half of the new faculty appointments have gone to part-time or other non-tenurable, fixed-contract slots and the number of full-time tenure-line positions has declined even more rapidly. The technology revolution may indeed spell the end of the tenure system as it is presently administered.

Information technology experts can play a leading role in calling attention to self-defeating practices. The sheer number of students seeking higher education out of desire for academic achievement or absolute economic need demands a new approach. How can we in higher education continue to believe (as we apparently do) that all students require the same time and space patterns for learning? How can we define what such a diverse population should study in order to be called "college graduates"? How can we serve so many people studying so many subjects in so many institutions without a dramatic shift in how we organize and deliver services? Do we just keep building more facilities and hiring more people? Such an approach would be akin to handling the increase in demands on the Social Security and Medicare systems by buying more pencils, paper, and filing cabinets and constructing more buildings and hiring more clerks to fill them. Examples abound of new models for learning and for granting degrees, but these tend to be viewed as isolated sidebars of the "real academy." The information technology community should actively promote these successful new learning arrangements.

Romantic notions of the student-faculty relationship, with the student sitting on one end of a log and the faculty member on the other end, are a vital part of the academic myth—in spite of universities enrolling tens of thousands of students, lecture halls containing hundreds of seats, graduate students teaching key classes, and students of all ages and interests moving in and out of the academy. Today's youth—and increasingly, today's adults—communicate regularly via e-mail, instant messaging, and cell phones via voice- and text-messaging and gather information from the Internet and digital libraries with ease and without any personal contact. Indeed, most have never known any other way. Students with instant communication tools expect their faculty to be available instantly. This opens fantastic opportunities for new forms of interpersonal relationships and for collaborative learning on campus, off campus, among faculty and students on several campuses, and anywhere in the world. Clearly, the future of higher education is outside the traditional campus and classroom.

The change from an industrial to an information-based economy has put worldwide higher education in the middle of a new paradigm of global competition; most advanced nations view higher education as a key player in international business competition. The growth of higher education as a valuable commodity, along with the enormous public investment in it, places the academy in the category of what political scientists call "a business affected with a public interest." Thus higher education becomes similar to a public utility, subject to political forces and regulatory control. Cottage industries do not fare well under such powerful forces, which look for efficiency and clear results. Will higher education become part of that engagement and help determine its own future, or will it leave its future precisely where institutions should fear most to have their future—in political hands? The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 2004 is clearly shaping up as just such a contest.

Does it matter whether the academy thinks of itself as a business? Yes, it matters. How we in higher education perceive of ourselves conditions our behavior. Clearly, substantial numbers of academics either fail to see the global significance of information technology or believe that the features characterizing higher education for six centuries, since the Gutenberg Bible, are sufficient to meet their obligations. Continuing claims by the mainstream higher education community that "education is not a business" and is not susceptible to market forces will increasingly be viewed as a Luddite fantasy. Imagine if we had claimed that the invention of the automobile and the airplane would not require further action, such as the building of highways or airports, or if after the car and the plane were produced, we had remained content to leave things as they were—with the Model T Ford and the open-cockpit, propeller plane.

A twentieth-century print, lecture, and discussion educational system, serving a well-defined and small demographic group, can operate with a decentralized, independent site-based organizational structure. A twenty-first-century system with multimedia information resources, available on demand anywhere and sought by a multifarious worldwide audience, will require different collaborative organizational properties, in which the individual student or scholar is the focal point and the organizational units are rendered secondary. Yes, how the academy perceives itself matters. If higher education is to lead its own renewal, it must think about its people, its property, and its productivity in business terms.

1. Steven Pearlstein, "The Lesson Colleges Need to Learn," Washington Post, December 17, 2003; Steven Pearlstein, "An Educating Use of Business Practices," Washington Post, December 19, 2003.

2. Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, "When States Pay Less, Guess Who Pays More?" Washington Post, October 26, 2003.

3. Carole A. Barone, "The Changing Landscape and the New Academy," EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 38, no. 5 (September/October 2003): 42, <> (accessed January 14, 2004).

4. See Jane V. Wellman and Thomas Ehrlich, eds., How the Student Credit Hour Shapes Higher Education: The Tie That Binds, New Directions for Higher Education, no. 122 (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003).


How Original . . . These Scholars Shared a Ghost. Who Knew? By William M. Adler Sunday, April 25, 2004; Page B01 2004Apr24


Everyone has quirks. Among mine is an obsession with matters nuclear: weapons, power, waste. I've been writing about little else for several years. So I was intrigued not long ago to run across an opinion piece in my hometown daily, the Austin American-Statesman headlined "Funds for nuclear waste storage should be used for just that."

The March 4 op-ed by Sheldon Landsberger, a University of Texas professor of nuclear engineering, argued trenchantly that the government is fleecing electric-power ratepayers, who for more than two decades have been contributing mandatory fees for the development of a proposed national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Landsberger charged that a portion of the fees earmarked for the Nuclear Waste Fund is diverted to the U.S. Treasury. "Denying the Yucca Mountain project an adequate level of funding," he wrote, "is stealing money from taxpayers who were required to support the waste management project."

Strong words. Familiar ones, too. So familiar that I was sure they were entombed in the towering file of articles on nuclear waste that I, ahem, maintain. I knew I could excavate the words eventually. Or I could Google them. I typed in "Yucca Mountain" and "stealing money"; 0.11 seconds later, I had my cite: A Dec. 9, 2003, op-ed column in the State, the Columbia, S.C., daily. It appeared under the byline of Abdel E. Bayoumi, chairman of the department of mechanical engineering at the University of South Carolina. Wrote Prof. Bayoumi: "Denying the repository project an adequate amount of funding is essentially stealing money from the taxpayers who were required to support the waste management project."

Other sentences were identical, as was the entire last paragraph, but this was no case of garden-variety plagiarism; Landsberger had not appropriated the words of Bayoumi. Instead, as I was about to learn, Landsberger and other engineering professors at universities great and small had been sent op-eds over the past decade or more and asked to sign, seal and deliver them as their own to their local newspapers. The opinion pieces were written not by the academic experts, but originally by a PR agency in Washington, D.C., working on behalf of the nuclear energy industry.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I called Landsberger, but he was away for spring break. So I called Bayoumi, who was indignant that someone might have lifted his words. "I didn't consent to let anyone else use it," he said. "I told the State it was only for the State."

Finally, I reached Landsberger. He told me he was unaware of Bayoumi's column. Indeed, he was taken aback when confronted with the similarities between the two pieces. His defense was odd but convincing. He admitted immediately that he had not written his column. " It was something which was written for me," Landsberger said, but he wouldn't say by whom. "I agreed with it, I went over it, read it a couple of times, took all of 15, 20 minutes." Nor was it the first time he'd lent his good name and academic credential into the service of an ideal in which he believes: a nuclear-powered world.

"I've written five to 10 [such] articles over the last five years," he said. "They come maybe two or three times a year, particularly when there's a hot-button issue." They came to him? Again, he wouldn't say from whom.

I returned to Bayoumi's column and typed its final sentence, "The government should get on with it," into the LexisNexis newspaper search engine. Up popped the same plaintive wail in a Buffalo (N.Y.) News op-ed published July 26, 1993 -- fully 10 years earlier. (Bayoumi's column featured other lockstep language as well.) Back to the phone. I asked if he had written the piece. He said yes. "All the writing is my
own," Bayoumi said. "I have no knowledge of that [Buffalo News] column. I have no idea who did what 10 years ago."

I believed him, just as I'd believed Landsberger when he said he was unaware of Bayoumi's column. Nevertheless, I wondered what was really going on.

Eventually it would become clear. Landsberger divulged that he had received the op-eds from a fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Energy Department's nuclear research and development facility in Tennessee. He wouldn't name his correspondent, but he did allow that the man worked with Potomac Communications Group Inc., a Washington-based public relations firm.

A quick visit to Potomac's Web page delivered the news that among its clients is the Nuclear Energy Institute, the mighty industry-funded lobby. On the NEI's Web site is a list of experts whom reporters are encouraged to call for comment or technical assistance with a story. One of those experts is Sheldon Landsberger; another is Theodore M. Besmann, a nuclear engineer at Oak Ridge National Lab.

You're nobody without a Web page, and Ted Besmann is no nobody. His page on the Oak Ridge Web site helpfully mentions that since 1985 he has moonlighted as a consultant to Potomac. Besmann, although not overjoyed to hear from me, acknowledged that Potomac pays him to ghostwrite letters to newspaper editors and to broker op-ed pieces to engineering colleagues around the country. (He also is a prolific correspondent under his own name; The Washington Post, for instance, has published four of his letters, most recently in 2001. His lettersidentify him as a "researcher" or "head of a research group" at Oak Ridge National Lab, but not as a consultant to the industry.)

I started searching LexisNexis and other databases for op-eds written by academics the NEI touts as experts. I printed out a healthy sampling, grouping them chronologically and by subject area. Searching on key phrases led me to other academics' op-eds. Once sorted, it didn't take a forensic crime lab to determine that one person's literary DNA is all over those articles.

Take the argument that the increased use of nuclear power leads to fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. Op-eds on that subject, for instance, ran between 1997 and 1999 with different bylines in three newspapers. Each writer dismissed the claims of "environmentalists" or "skeptics" that greenhouse-gas emissions "can be reduced" without nuclear power. " They are dreaming," said one op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 2, 1997. Yes, concurred another in the Record of Northern New Jersey on Jan. 5, 1998: "They are dreaming." And Dallas Morning News readers awoke on April 5, 1999, to learn from Landsberger that those lazy enviros were still in the sack: "They are dreaming," he wrote.

Or take the campaign to locate low-level nuclear waste facilities in various states. Between 1990 and 1996, three academics and a physician writing op-eds in newspapers in four states -- Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas -- all assured readers that nearby sites would " be among the safest and best-engineered" waste facilities in the country.

Fascinated by all of this, I phoned the news editor at the weekly Austin Chronicle, who told me to lace up my roller skates and get going on a story -- which it published April 16.

The op-eds are ginned up by a prodigious copywriter at Potomac Communications Group named Peter Bernstein, who works out of an office in Alexandria. Bernstein did not return several messages tat I left for him over a two-week period, but I did hear from his boss, Bill Perkins, a Potomac founding partner. Perkins told me it makes no difference whose byline is on an op-ed column; it's what the piece says that matters. "Whether the words are largely theirs, or largely not theirs, the views are. Nobody would submit an article if they didn't totally agree with it," he said.

Besides, Perkins added, everyone does it. "I doubt that there is a public affairs campaign by any advocacy group in the country that doesn't have some version of this," he said. "The op-ed pages are one of the ways people express their views in these debates." But, I argued, these professors are not just expressing their views; rather they express and adopt as their own those of the nuclear lobby. Said Perkins: "This is fairly conventional. It does sound as if you've got a fairly strong opinion on this for a reporter."

Well, yes, I was upset to learn that the "by" in a scholar's byline may well be a ruse, a duplicitous means of inducing a lobby-authored, lobby-funded piece into print and onto the public agenda. And sure, I recognize that many politicians don't utter a word that a ghost didn't write and a focus group didn't approve, but academic rules require that scholars' research and writing be original. (And isn't that why PR firms recruit scholars to sign the op-eds -- precisely because of their status as independent experts?)

Perkins said that it served no purpose to debate me, and there he was right. One man's "editorial resource" is another's op-ed mill, I suppose.

I hereby propose that the nation's editorial page editors ask at least these two questions of outside contributors:
1) Did you write this piece?
2) Are you a consultant, paid or not, to an organization or interest group with a vested interest in your column? I'm not advocating that editors bar from publication those who answer affirmatively, only that their connection and/or interests be disclosed in the author's bio.

On April 13, the Austin American-Statesman printed a letter of apology from Landsberger. "Although I am in complete agreement with the contents of the article, in my exuberance to have it published I failed to state that it was not written by me," he wrote.

An "A" for exuberance, however, does not earn one a pass from compliance with academic guidelines. The University of Texas relies on the federal Office of Research Integrity's (ORI) working definition of plagiarism -- which includes the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work , according to Sharon Brown, the university's associate vice president for research. ORI defines such copying as "the unattributed verbatim or nearly verbatim copying of sentences and paragraphs which materially mislead the ordinary reader regarding the contributions of the author."

A week before his published apology, Landsberger had told me it was he who felt victimized. He had no qualms about using a ghostwriter -- until he learned the ghost was two-timing him. "When I started doing this, I was under the impression that, rightfully or wrongfully, I was the only guy."

Is it acceptable, then, to slap your name on writing not yours, as long as no one else declares it his or hers? "I had no problems with them coming to me," he said, until he learned that other professors were staking their claims to the same material. "I felt betrayed, duped, whatever the word is." I know the feeling, and either of those words will do.

Author's e-mail: william_m_adler at earthlink dot net - William M. Adler's most recent book is "Mollie's Job: A Story of Life and Work on the Global Assembly Line" (Scribner). He is at work on a book about the links between civilian nuclear power and nuclear arms proliferation.



S&E Indicators 2004 includes state-by-state breakdown of key statistics

ARLINGTON, Va.-Science and Engineering (S&E) Indicators 2004, a biennial report of the National Science Board to the president, presents for the first time a state-by-state breakdown of two dozen science and technology indicators. The information is designed to assist in analyzing state trends and developing state-wide goals.

The state statistics in S&E Indicators 2004, traditionally the nation's most authoritative source for national and international science and engineering trends, focus on secondary and higher education, the S&E workforce, research and development (R&D) spending, R&D outputs (such as doctoral degrees, patents and academic articles) and the high-tech economy.

The state chapter (Chapter 8) offers an easy-to-use resource, with a map for each indicator showing states in quartiles, a brief description of the indicator, key findings and a data table. A bar chart is included online.
As in past years, S&E Indicators 2004 Chapter 4 contains information on R&D expenditures by state. In 2000, the most recent year for which complete data were available, the 20 highest-ranking states continue to account for 87 percent of R&D expenditures, while the 20 lowest-ranking states account for only 4 percent.

The new state indicators permit comparisons that take into account a wider range of state characteristics. These measures demonstrate that R&D expenditures do not necessarily reflect a state's ranking on other indicators, such as eighth-grade educational performance, bachelor's degrees conferred, patents awarded, federal R&D spending or share of high-tech businesses.

State Indicator Highlights

· In most states, eighth-graders' mathematics performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress improved from 1992 to 2000, and for those states with data available for 1996 and 2000, most showed a slight increase in eighthgraders' science performance.
· A state's ranking in the workforce, R&D or economic indicators often does not reflect its standing in education indicators (eighth-grade math and science performance or bachelor's degrees conferred).
· College graduates are more likely to be found in states with strong federal and industry R&D investments or strong high- tech economies. The states with many bachelor's degree holders in
the workforce are often not the same states conferring relatively high shares of those bachelor's degrees.
· A wide gap separates the top states for industrial R&D investment from those at the bottom. Similarly skewed distributions appear among rankings for federal R&D spending.
· States with a high proportion of high-tech businesses also show a higher percentage of bachelor's degree holders, S&E doctorate holders and S&E occupations in the workforce.


Colleges get a hard lesson in making the US secure
By Christopher Grimes in New York

Applications to US colleges from China, India and western Europe have dropped dramatically this year. The decline - which included a 76 per cent drop in Chinese graduate applications this year - is raising concerns that the US could lose a longtime source of competitive advantage in research, science and engineering.

University officials put part of the blame on stringent visa requirements enacted after September 11. A recent government study showed that science students faced waits averaging 67 days for security checks to be completed last year. Students in parts of India waited up to 12 weeks to be interviewed for visas.

At Michigan State University, such delays caused some visiting scholars to miss part of the academic year.

Lobbying pressure by colleges has already prompted the State Department to begin streamlining the visa application process. An electronic system for submitting security checks is expected to speed up the process.

But US university officials worry that the visa issue is only part of the problem. Universities in Britain, Canada and Australia have launched aggressive recruiting efforts that have attracted increased international student applications.

International students pump about $13bn a year into the US economy, according to the Institute of International Education, which administers the prestigious US government-backed Fulbright scholarships. But beyond their immediate economic impact, university officials say they benefit the US in myriad other ways - including taking home positive ideas about the US.

Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard, last week warned Colin Powell, the secretary of state, that the decline in foreign students threatens the quality of research coming from US universities. "If the next generation of foreign leaders are educated elsewhere, we also will have lost the incalculable benefits derived from their extended exposure to our country and its democratic values," Mr Summers wrote to Mr Powell.

Some officials at US universities are concerned that anti-US sentiment has contributed to the falling numbers. Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, associate dean for international students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says she is concerned that the the US no longer seems "welcoming" to foreign students. International applications to MIT's graduate programmes fell by 17 per cent this year. "Applications are down across the country. Is it because students have tried to apply but had trouble, or is it the perception that the US is not friendly? I think it's more of the latter," she says.

The extent of the problem was highlighted by a recent study by the Council of Graduate Schools. The survey showed that graduate applications from international students fell 32 per cent over the last year. The worst declines were from China and India, followed by the Middle East, Korea and western Europe.

Though alarming to US university officials, these figures are unlikely to translate into big falls in enrolment in the next academic year because universities are still oversubscribed, albeit less so than they have been in previous years.

Peter Briggs, director of Michigan state's office for international students and scholars, says he is pleased with the quality of applicants for the 2004-2005 academic year.

"What we don't know is whether this is the beginning of a longer trend line, where competition from the UK, Australia and Canada is going to be more attractive because the US has sent out unwelcoming signals," he says.

Regardless of the cause, university officials say they are concerned about the consequenc es of falling applications - particularly at a time when the US needs to promote a positive image abroad.