The Business of Academia

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Academics are hardly shy about offering businesses advice but they go ballistic when industry deigns to return the favor. “The president of the University of Toledo plans to appoint his former chief financial officer (CFO) to the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs,” Merrimack College sociologist Michael DeCesare writes on the academe blog.”While it is not uncommon for a CFO to slide into the role of president, it would be both rare and unsettling for a CFO to be appointed as a provost.”

“One might reasonably wonder, after all, what exactly in a financial officer‘s background and experience would qualify that person to become the chief academic administrator on campus.” One might wonder indeed.

“It is my belief that higher education across the country at the national level is inbred, and we need to look outside and bring new external skill sets into higher education . . ,”  UT President Lloyd Jacobs stated. “Too often universities offer the courses they want to offer while students struggle to graduate on time because too few class sections are available to meet student demand.” Jacobs has a point.

We’ve recently discovered that blacks who go to elite law schools have a hard time passing the bar because those institutions devote scant attention to what is covered on the exam. “When African-American and white law students with similar credentials competed against each other at the same school, they earned about the same grades,” Anthony T. Caso of Chapman University Law School points out in an amicus brief he compiled on behalf of three members of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission. “And when African-Americans and white students with the same grades from the same tier school took the bar examination, they passed at the same rate.”

“Yet African-American students as a group had dramatically lower bar passage rates than white students with similar credentials.” Caso wrote the brief for consideration in the case of Abigail Noel Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin which the U. S. Supreme Court is reviewing in October.

“The black and Hispanic students were more likely to be attending an elite school that spends little time on subjects covered on the bar exam and delves instead into more abstract and esoteric legal issues,” writes Caso.

The amicus brief Caso assembled was filed on behalf of the plaintiff, Ms. Fisher, who alleges that racial preferences kept her out of UT Austin.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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