The education assembly line

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 12:21pm

Last June, Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, was unceremoniously forced out office.

Those members of the university’s governing board who wanted Sullivan out, led by Helen Dragas and a few big donors, were particularly keen for the university to embrace online education—without having conducted an analysis of its viability. They were also displeased that Sullivan was not excited or willing to make “hard fiscal decisions” they felt were necessary, such as dismantling the classics and German departments.

The university’s board, like governing boards elsewhere, is composed almost entirely of businesspeople—real estate developers, hedge fund managers, and corporate lawyers—who are intent on running the university as though it were a for-profit corporation. A Huffington Post piece put it succinctly: “The board is not simply more attuned to corporate interests and ideas than those of higher education professionals—the board quite literally isa cadre of corporate elites.”