The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities / Edition 1

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"What makes the modern university different from any other corporation?" asked Columbia's Andrew Delbanco recently in the New York Times. There is more and more reason to think: less and less,he answered. In this provocative book, Frank Donoghue shows how this growing corporate culture of higher education threatens its most fundamental values by erasing one of its defining features: the tenured professor. Taking a clear-eyed look at American higher education over the last twenty years, Donoghue outlines a web of forces-social, political, and institutional-dismantling the professoriate. Today, fewer than 30 percent of college and university teachers are tenured or on tenure tracks, and signs point to a future where professors will disappear. Why? What will universities look like without professors? Who will teach? Why should it matter? The fate of the professor, Donoghue shows, has always been tied to that of the liberal arts -with thehumanities at its core. The rise to prominence of the American university has been defined by the strength of the humanities and by the central role of the autonomous, tenured professor who can be both scholar and teacher. Yet in today's market-driven, rank- and ratings-obsessed world of higher education, corporate logic prevails: faculties are to be managed for optimal efficiency, productivity, and competitive advantage; casual armies of adjuncts and graduate students now fill the demand for teachers.Bypassing the distractions of the culture wars and other crises,Donoghue sheds light on the structural changes in higher education-the rise of community colleges and for-profit universities, the frenzied pursuit of prestige everywhere, the brutally competitive realities facing new Ph.D.s -that threaten the survival of professors as we've known them. There are no quick fixes in The Last Professors; rather, Donoghue offers his fellow teachers and scholarsan essential field guide to making their way in a world that no longer has room for their dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
. . . focuses on the daunting challenges facing new humanities Ph.D.s in an increasingly corporatized academy.-D.R. Koukal

Donoghue says that in our time the corporate university will end professors as we have come to know them.-Leonard R. N. Ashley

. . . Donoghue writes that tenure-track and tenured professors now make up only 35 percent of college facutly, and that number is steadily falling.-Valerie Saturen

"Donoghue does what few other critics of higher education have been able to do - present a balanced look at a complex issue within the university and college system."-Teaching Theology and Religion

"Donoghue's well written, thoroughly documented and convincingly reported book is a must read. . ." -The Ukrainian Quarterly

"As Frank Donoghue points out in The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities, what we are seeing is no crisis at all but 'an ongoing set of problems' that, at least for men and women who entered graduate school since the 1970s, has become business as usual." -Academe

"[Donoghue] presents his thesis in five well-researched and documented chapters ... his personal perspective helps him make a convincing argument that what is happening to the humanities and academics in these disciplines has a long history, has barely survived several twists in its story, and is in need of reinvention to stay alive." -Canadian Association of University Teachers

"The historical analysis of The Last Professors is a significant contribution in that it presents a coherent story of long-term structural developments. This well-written and provocative book is based on data and relevant literature." -H-Net

"... Donoghue claims that to be ready for the future, professors must "become not only sociologists but also institutional historians of their own profession." -Contexts

"An associate professor of English at Ohio State University, Frank Donoghue, insightfully analyzes, predicts, and laments the inevitable extinction of the faculty of the humanities- especially literature- at flagship state universities." -The Journal of Higher Education

Library Journal

Donoghue (English, Ohio State Univ.; The Fame Machine: Book Reviewing and Eighteenth-Century Literary Careers) provides a rapid overview of the influences shaping and, he believes, weakening, contemporary U.S. higher education. Ever since the end of the 19th century, the American preference for corporate efficiency has undermined the core liberal arts curriculum, leading to the emergence of for-profit colleges and universities that emphasize career preparation and have no time for the humanities. Combined with a shrinking and increasingly competitive job market for PhD candidates, this environment threatens the autonomous academic life that allows tenured professors to pursue their intellectual interests and combine teaching with scholarship. In lively prose, Donoghue draws together a wide range of perspectives, asserting that higher education, especially general education and the humanities, offers important values for American society. He urges his colleagues to become more active in defending a richer mode of education and to make themselves better informed about the factors now shaping colleges and universities. This book raises important issues in a zealous tone and is recommended for any library on-or near-a college campus.
—Elizabeth R. Hayford

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823228607
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Edition description: 3
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 172
  • Sales rank: 996,110
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

FRANK DONOGHUE is Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University. He is the author of The Fame Machine: Book Reviewing and Eighteenth-Century Literary Careers.

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Table of Contents

1 Rhetoric, History, and the Problems of the Humanities 1

2 Competing in Academia 24

3 The Erosion of Tenure 55

4 Professors of the Future 83

5 Prestige and Prestige Envy 111

Notes 139

Bibliography 161

Index 171

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Customer Reviews

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