Book Review: "The University Means Business: Universities, Corporations, and Academic Work"

Janice Newson and Howard Buchbinder, Garamond Press, 1988.

Review by
Jeffrey Shallit
Department of Computer Science
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1.

Although this short little book (91 pages of text) was published more than ten years ago, it is still quite relevant today. Two quotations should serve to illustrate its applicability to the situation at the University of Waterloo:

"To the average faculty member, deans are increasingly perceived as managers and less as academic leaders. They are seen as representing not the will of the collegium but the decisions of management."

"The diversification of the academic work-force, the separation of research, teaching, and service, and the attack on tenure are marginalizing the faculty within its work-place. If these trends continue, the academic voice will become increasingly peripheral in decisions that affect the directions of the university... Rather than exerting a collective presence as members of an ongoing collegium, academics will be more reliant for their jobs on the administration, which will constitute the most stable and ongoing component of the institution."

The stated goal of the authors is to describe the situation at Canadian universities in the mid-1980's, and to suggest what the future may hold. For the most part, they describe and do not advocate, although in the last section, entitled _Strategic Alternatives_, they do suggest rethinking the liberal model of the higher education more along the lines of a polytechnic university. Despite a rather dry and academic style, I found the analysis to be accurate and penetrating.

Jeffrey Shallit
Computer Science