As a fascinated observer and soon to be consumer of higher education, I have been following Larry Summers’ resignation from Harvard with interest because I think it speaks volumes about the state of academia. Peter Beinart, editor The New Republic and an impressive person, has an excellent contexualization (free username/pass required) of the Summers debacle. Read it and it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for the man.
He wanted top professors to actually teach. What???
He wanted the college to serve the nation, not merely itself. Is he nuts?!?
Higher education needs a reinvention.
2 comments on “Contexualizing the Summers Fall Out”
I’d argue *not all* higher education needs a reinvention. I’m a fourth-year (three weeks away from being done) at the University of Chicago and can vouch for the fact that almost all the critiques of Harvard in that article are things that Chicago really tries to achieve and does excel at.
…And that’s not just because I love this institution and am going to be leaving soon. Okay, well, maybe a little. 😉
P.S. I noticed you’re looking at Chicago. Feel free to email me any questions you may have.
While I would agree that higher education does need reforms, don’t get lulled into thinking that the quality of professors teaching is hurt by the time they spend on research. In my experience I have found that the professors that do outstanding research, do outstanding engagement, and also do outstanding teaching. At most high ranking schools undertaking those three activities are really what it’s all about (for most of them) remove one leg of the trifecta and you will see the quality of everything suffer. As many undergrads will think professors are certainly not there to teach alone, and they should not be.