To the continuing debate about the ills of American higher education, Smith, founding provost of UC Santa Cruz, contributes probing, provocative insights. With a tribute to his undergraduate mentor, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Harvard social philosophy professor and often disparaged radical thinker, the author sets about ``mapping the desert'' of contemporary higher education. After a lucid traverse of the development of education in the U.S., he sums up its present state as ``Academic fundamentalism. . . the stubborn refusal of the academy to acknowledge any truth that does not conform to professorial dogmas.'' In Smith's view, a meld of the classical Christian traditions with secular democracy may restore the modern university as a true ``academic community.'' 30,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.)
Historian Smith is the author of the eight-volume ``People's History of the United States.'' Here he has produced an excellent general history of American higher education, beginning with a discussion of its current problems. Smith's insights and controversial comments have the potential for upsetting those wedded to the status quo in higher education in the same fashion that A Nation at Risk did for K-12 public education. Approximately one third of the book deals with the ``sacred cows,'' foibles, and fallacies of higher education: tenure; graduate assistants teaching instead of faculty; the publish or perish syndrome; women's studies; the nonscientific social sciences; and the inhumanity of the humanities. One oversight of the book is the lack of mention of the community/junior college movement. For eductors, administrators, and others concerned with the future of higher education. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/89.-- Scott Johnson, Meridian Community Coll. Lib., Miss.
In contrast to the neo-conservative critique of academic leftists (see LA227), Smith, author of the eight-volume A People's history of the United States, goes for the right target--the institution, not the individual. The problems: academic fundamentalism; the flight from teaching due to tenure requirements; the worthlessness of most research and the mediocrity of most monographs; the narrowing of the disciplines; the dominance of the "scientific" approach--dispassionate, distant, objective. No bibliography. (RC) Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)