Who are the decision makers of higher education?

In the past, professors and faculty shared decision making duties for higher education with administrators. However, in recent decades,  the decision making has fallen more and more into the hands of administrators. This trend has formed from three causes, according to Benjamin Ginsberg. His three explanations include, “growth in demand for administrative services, the ever-increasing need to respond to mandates and record-keeping demands from federal and state governments as well as numerous licensure and accreditation bodies, and the conduct of the faculty.” Today, administrators are gaining power, “making the rules and setting more and more of the priorities of academic life.” This is a shame, because “most have no faculty experience, and even those who spent this time in a classroom or laboratory hope to make administration their life’s work and have plan to return to the faculty.” If administrators have never worked as faculty in the college/university, then how are they supposed to know what goes on in the classrooms and other campus settings, and why should they have a say in it? Ginsberg puts it in simple yet though-invoking terms when he says, “Controlled by administrators, on the other hand, the university can never be more than what Stanley Aronowitz has aptly termed a knowledge factory, offering more or less sophisticated forms of vocational training to meet the needs of other established institutions in the public and private sectors.  Colleges are not meant to be solely run by administrators. Professors, who provide the single-most important element of the college experience—knowledge—should be making some decisions at the higher level of administrators. Otherwise, this is violating their “academic freedom,” as Wasson calls it. One of the elements of academic freedom is “extramural utterance and action,” which is clearly becoming less present in today’s higher education world.


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