His blog post is: Return on investment in faculty rarely captured by university CFOs and it makes three important points.
- The faculty is the university.
- Budget models that invest in things like $140-million in online learning while cutting normal teaching and research are unlikely to work.
- Cutting normal faculty positions while advocating an increase in "professional programs" and an increase in enrollment seems illogical.
"Mr. President, We are not employees of the university. We are the university."
With these words, Isidore Rabi, a distinguished faculty member at Columbia University, interrupted Dwight Eisenhower, who had started off a speech by addressing the faculty as "employees of the university." [At the time, Eisenhower was President of Columbia University.] Generation after generation of faculty members has repeated this inspirational anecdote from the early 1950s, though they know very well that their universities are increasingly becoming about everything other than the faculty. And the situation appears to be worsening. To the professional managerial class that nowadays run the neoliberal version of post-secondary education, the faculty is often seen as merely the source of the university’s problems. So, before too many of my colleagues get used to being seen as a cost, not something that provides net positive value to the university, I would like to use charter accountants’ speak to argue that investment in university research excellence could be and should be viewed as a possible driver of future revenue.
As to the end of the Eisenhower tale, people assumed he might have taken offense by the somewhat confrontational remark of Rabi. Instead, the latter became his closest friend on the faculty – "and when Eisenhower became President of a somewhat larger organization than Columbia, he appointed Rabi to a number of influential positions."
1. It was Bob Woodham, and I mean a high school friend from a long time ago not a high school friend who is old. None of us are "old" yet.