In the Company of Scholars: The Struggle for the Soul of Higher Education

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"I began this book to articulate my sense of disappointment and alienation from the status I had fought so hard to achieve." A remarkable admission from an alumnus of Harvard Law School who has held tenured professorships in the law schools of Yale and Stanford and has taught in the law schools of Harvard and Chicago. In this personal reflection on the status of higher education, Julius Getman probes the tensions between status and meaning, elitism and egalitarianism, that challenge the academy and academics today. He shows how higher education
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Overview

"I began this book to articulate my sense of disappointment and alienation from the status I had fought so hard to achieve." A remarkable admission from an alumnus of Harvard Law School who has held tenured professorships in the law schools of Yale and Stanford and has taught in the law schools of Harvard and Chicago. In this personal reflection on the status of higher education, Julius Getman probes the tensions between status and meaning, elitism and egalitarianism, that challenge the academy and academics today. He shows how higher education creates a shared intellectual community among people of varied classes and races - while simultaneously dividing people on the basis of education and status. In the course of his explorations, Getman touches on many of the most current issues in higher education today, including the conflict between teaching and research, challenges to academic freedom, the struggle over multiculturalism, and the impact of minority and feminist activism. Getman presents these issues through relevant, often humorous anecdotes, using his own and others' experiences in coping with the constantly changing academic landscape. Written from a liberal perspective, the book offers another side of the story told in such recent works as Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals. It will be important reading for everyone concerned with the future of higher education, as well as for anyone considering an academic career.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
His tone is dignified, but Getman--a University of Texas law professor and a former president of the American Association of University Professors--gets down in the dirt for this disquisition on our halls of ivy. Many academics are sneering, posturing, mind-wandering, lazy, turf-fighting snobs and liars, he avers, naming names while making confessions of his own. With this assortment of pensees, anecdotes and memories of his efforts as labor negotiator of academic disputes, Getman claims a loftier goal than expose. He intends to reveal how elitism and teaching in higher education are competing impulses--which he does make clear, though with some meanderings off course. Interviews with other academics illustrate his observation that the term ``academic community'' is a misnomer, with Stanford University appearing as a place of feverish scholarly territoriality. Getman cunningly skewers academic snobbery and pretense, but he offers few suggestions for reform. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Getman's analysis of academia is more of a personal probe into his own career, both as legal scholar and teacher. Nevertheless, he manages to juxtapose a lively discussion of topics clearly at the forefront of today's debate. Drawing on his own experiences at Indiana University, Harvard, and Yale, the often disgruntled author analyzes graduate school education, research and scholarship, academic freedom, and, of course, feminists and minorities. One theme that Getman stresses is egalitarianism vs. elitism. This theme is explored from many vantage points and is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this otherwise personal account of the failure of higher education. People in academia will nod their heads in agreement, but Getman offers nothing new to an already familiar territory.-- Nancy E. Zuwiyya, Binghamton City Sch. Dist., N.Y.
Roland Wulbert
Getman restores urgency to a question that is usually little more than a rhetorical bellyache: Why is academic life so elitist and vindictive, so replete with invidious comparisons--so uncollegial? The distinguished law professor's own career at Yale, Stanford, Harvard, and the University of Chicago assures that his indictment of elitism isn't just sour grapes. He convinces us he takes it seriously by revealing himself, i.e., taking risks. "Reading final exams forced me to reevaluate my success as a teacher," he writes. "If I had touched, inspired, or altered the students in any significant way, why was so little evidence of it present in their answers?" Is there a teacher who hasn't asked the same question? But who else has ever admitted it in print? The shock of Getman's asking such a question induces granting his other observations about teaching and collegiality an authority they could not otherwise command. "In the Company of Scholars" will likely be welcomed as a liberal, multicultural antidote to "The Closing of the American Mind" and "Tenured Radicals", but it gambles for much higher stakes, seeking to transcend political divisions and remind teachers of the values once dearest to them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292727557
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1992
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Interviews
1 The Attraction of Academic Life 1
2 The Basic Academic Processes and the Search for Meaning: The Conflict between Elitist and Egalitarian Values 15
3 The Relationship of Faculty to Academic Institutions 73
4 The Struggle for Change 130
5 Special Features of Academic Life 209
Notes 279
Index 291
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