College Guide

Blog

September 28, 2010 1:45 PM “Like a Business”

By Daniel Luzer

Strings1.jpg

The governor of Texas, Republican Rick Perry, is on a campaign to treat public colleges like businesses. Well, sort of.

According to an article by Katherine Mangan in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Mr. Perry, a Republican who came to office in 2000, when then-Gov. George W. Bush was elected president, has promoted his conservative ideology through a policy agenda that emphasizes transparency and accountability and treats colleges like businesses whose customers are students.

This is an interesting characterization of the governor’s methods. “Transparency” and “accountability” are not necessarily features of profitable businesses; they do, however, tend to be buzz words used a great deal in government departments.

A lot of professors find this intrusion troublesome. As Mangan explains:

Many of the changes taking place at Texas A&M and on other campuses in the state closely mirror the recommendations the governor made early last year in a document, titled “Higher Education Reforms,” that was circulated among the campuses. The proposals included requiring colleges to post faculty members’ salaries and benefits, the number of students they teach, the results of teaching evaluations, and the number of A’s and B’s they give out. It also called for teaching awards based solely on student evaluations.

One professor complained that Perry, “see[s] faculty as problem children who have to be whipped into shape.” No doubt that sort of involvement is irritating, especially for faculty and administrators who’ve thrived in Texas for years without Perry, but how is this “treating colleges like businesses”? Greater government intervention? More oversight? Intrusion into staff evaluations?

One would think that a Republican governor who really wanted to run public colleges like businesses would, well, prefer the hands-off strategy toward businesses favored by the GOP. But who knows? [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Coop on September 28, 2010 5:47 PM:

    Under the apparently eternal Perry administration, Texas exists solely as raw material for corporations.