Chill Out at a Tailgating Party

John SenerBy John Sener

I’m tempted to say “see my previous commentary on this topic” — this article (Philip E. Auerswald’s “First Newspapers, Now Universities: It’s Transformation Time,” Washington Post, 8 June 2010) is similarly annoying. But I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s the form or the substance which is annoying, or both. (I think it’s both.)

First, the form. The article’s next-to-last paragraph seems reasonable enough at first glance:

What all of this means for leadership in higher education is that while resistance is futile, obsolescence is far from assured. The coming transformation in higher education will be gradual, and it will be incomplete. Many of today’s elite institutions will not only survive, they will prosper. Other institutions that clearly define, measure, and communicate the value they bring to individual students – and not just to society as a whole – will prosper. As for those whose strategy is to repackage past glories as a vision for the future on forlorn trips to bankrupt legislatures, [it won’t work] . . .

Why then create such cognitive dissonance by covering a plausible conclusion with an attention-grabbing, contradictory, absurd coating? “Prepare to say goodbye” to universities? “Learning is still in for today’s students, but school’s out”? Continue reading