This month Texas A&M University at Kingsville posted a new job ad for a faculty member in early-modern/Renaissance literature. The first line of the “job summary” reads, in all capital letters: “PROVIDE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.” A bit lower, the job description mentions that the selected candidate will have to teach four courses a semester while remaining “active in research, professional development, and service to the university and profession.”
The ad represents a culmination of dangerous trends in higher education that threaten to erode the single most important relationship we form in our profession: the complex, multifaceted one between teacher and student.
For years now, corporate language and thinking has invaded academe, correlating with many other trends—the decline of public funding from states, the rising price of tuition, the amenities arms-race in student housing, the administrative bloat, the demands of assessment culture, and, most of all, the general saturation of corporate-speak into academic life. Institutions, especially branch campuses of public university systems and small private colleges, feel perpetually strapped for cash and desperate for tuition revenue. <Read more.>