The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For

Naomi Schaefer Riley, Author
Naomi Schaefer Riley. Ivan R. Dee, $19.95 (178p) ISBN 978-1-56663-886-9
Reviewed on: 04/11/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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For Riley (God on the Quad), the problem with our university system lies with the concept of tenured faculty. Although allowing that "tenure is not the reason why college costs so much," Riley's energies are largely devoted to arguing that "tenure... is eroding American education from the inside out." As a safeguard for academic freedom, Riley argues that there are areas of study where academic freedom is "an almost irrelevant concept." The path to tenure encourages "trivial research and publication," and once achieved, tenure means that professors "can simply neglect their students with little or no consequence." While "not the primary cause of the financial problems" facing higher education, it is "one reason colleges will have such a difficult time digging themselves out." Tied with this harangue about tenure, Riley considers the ambiguous role of "industry-sponsored research," the problems faced by adjunct faculty, and the threat posed by unions. That "military schools and religious institutions are places where tenure is least prevalent" is not an reassuring argument. In any event, according to Riley, "faculty off the tenure track make up about 70 percent of the total and [teach] more than half the undergraduate classes," which makes much of Riley's quarrel tangential. Unfortunately, as Riley's tone becomes acerbic, readers who might glean something noteworthy may just tune out. (June)
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