Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University

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Overview

Based on years of observation at a large state university, Wannabe U tracks the dispiriting consequences of trading in traditional educational values for loyalty to the market. Aping their boardroom idols, the new corporate administrators at such universities wander from job to job and reductively view the students there as future workers in need of training. Obsessed with measurable successes, they stress auditing and accountability, which leads to policies of surveillance and control dubiously cloaked in the guise of scientific administration. In this eye-opening exposé of the modern university, Tuchman paints a candid portrait of the corporatization of higher education and its impact on students and faculty. 

Like the best campus novelists, Tuchman entertains with her acidly witty observations of backstage power dynamics and faculty politics, but ultimately Wannabe U is a hard-hitting account of how higher education’s misguided pursuit of success fails us all.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Education

“Tough, honest, highly entertaining. . . . It raises serious questions about the desirability of the shifts in policy and practice that have changed the landscape of the academy, yet it manages at the same time to be funny and entertaining. . . . This book raises important questions about what kind of higher education we want. Tuchman is passionately engaged, but never loses her sense of humour and leaves us with much to think about.”

Walter W. Powell

Wannabe U is an exceptional portrait of a state university that desperately wants to play in the big leagues. Tuchman illuminates how universities have not just borrowed tools from the business world but redefined them in ways that have had a far-reaching and pernicious influence on higher education. She deftly captures the careerist ambitions of administrators and the discomfort that these transformations can cause between older faculty and newer arrivals. In the midst of these changes and conflicts, Tuchman also notes how much the day-to-day experience of faculty and students is affected. No other book is as revealing about the revolution under way in American higher education as this one.”—Walter W. Powell, Stanford University
Troy Duster

“Gaye Tuchman has managed to weave together both a cogent structural analysis of the corporatizing forces reshaping U.S. universities and a colorful ethnographic portrait of a single aspiring institution. She does this with wit and wisdom, highlighting many of the tensions and contradictions of a system where every unit strives and claims to be well above average.”
Gary Rhoades

“In a compelling case study of Wannabe University, Gaye Tuchman thoroughly traces the metamorphosis of a university. She lays bare the combination of a managerialism focused on chasing status and a logic of compliance among divided and complicit academics that results in a comformist, transformed university.”
Times Higher Education
"Tough, honest, highly entertaining. . . . It raises serious questions about the desirability of the shifts in policy and practice that have changed the landscape of the academy, yet it manages at the same time to be funny and entertaining. . . . This book raises important questions about what kind of higher education we want. Tuchman is passionately engaged, but never loses her sense of humour and leaves us with much to think about."-Times Higher Education
Library Journal
Tuchman (sociology, Univ. of Connecticut) presents Wannabe U, pseudonym for a real, mid-sized, second-tier public university in the Northeast, as an illustration of the changes taking place in American higher education in the 21st century. Keeping the institution and her numerous faculty and administrative informants anonymous, she links the administrative centralization in the university to growing corporatism in American society. When the university president calls for "transformation" of the university, he refers to an uneasy mix of increased accountability and growing focus on revenue, along with a confusing insistence that excellent teaching, productive research, and increased public service are all priorities. VERDICT Tuchman's focus on a specific institution is engaging, but her integration of her observations with scholarship in sociology and organization theory creates uncertainty about how universities should evolve. An interested reader might gain clearer understanding from Jame's C. Garland's Saving Alma Mater, above.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226815299
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gaye Tuchman is professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality and Edging Women Out: Victorian Novelists, Publishers, and Social Change, editor of The TV Establishment: Programming for Power and Profit, and coeditor of Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media.

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Table of Contents

1: Wannabe University Is Transformed

2: Situating Wannabe U

3: Conforming, Branding, and Research

4: Outsiders and the New Managerialism

5: The Politics of Centralization

6: Teaching, Learning, and Rating

7: Carrots, Sticks, and Accountability

8: Plans and Priorities

9: Making Professors Accountable

10: The Logic of Compliance

Acknowledgments

Notes

References

Index

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