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


by David L. Kirp
Editorial Reviews
From Booklist
The idea of the college campus as a refuge for intellectual pursuits has been all but swept away as colleges and universities succumb to highly competitive market pressures, with liberal arts suffering especially as interest focuses on the "practical arts." Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, examines how these trends have led to a consumeristic approach to the marketing of higher education. Students, once thought of as minds to be molded, are now "customers," a school's reputation is its "brand," each department a "revenue center." Disturbing as this trend may be, its effects have been widely varied. Kirp examines about a dozen schools and the ways they position themselves to attract the highest quality "customers." There was a staff revolt when a marketing strategist was brought in to the highly intellectual University of Chicago, yet several years later a budget crisis was averted as both enrollment and students' qualifications increased significantly. An illuminating view of both good and bad results in a market-driven educational system. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Description:

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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