Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Strange Bedfellows: Academy & Corporate America

August 1, 2007, 6:45, 7:30, 8:30 a.m.; 3:00 p.m.

SAD EXTRA: Well, we've done it again. Mike Hogan, outstanding university administrator and scholar, incredibly decent human being, committed Iowan, much beloved, finalist (some say the favored first choice) in the first UI presidential search, has been run out of town, to follow David Skorton and Mary Gilchrist on to bigger and better things than playing the role of recipient of local abuse. See Diane Heldt, "UI Provost Headed to Connecticut," Gazette Online, August 1, 2007, 1:24 p.m.; Brian Morelli, "Hogan to Become UConn President," Iowa City Press-Citizen Online, August 1, 2007, 1:59 p.m.; Associated Press, "University of Iowa Provost Selected as UConn President," Gazette Online, August 1, 2007, 2:44 p.m.

The Corporatization of America's Higher Education

Once a university gets in bed with corporate America is oral sex "adultery" -- hell, is it even "sex"? Are we still virgins if we don't "go all the way"?

We're already in bed, folks. Now we're just drawing lines and haggling over price.

Today's most significant story? Lynn Hicks and Erin Jordan, "Wellmark proposal fuels debate on names; Where should universities draw the line in accepting corporate gifts?" Des Moines Register, August 1, 2007. (The Press-Citizen also carries the same story this morning under the headline, "Naming Dilemma a National Debate; Where Should Schools Draw the Line," p. A1.)

Why are these Register reporters' efforts so significant? Because they, like I, are trying to put the Wellmark naming controversy in a meaningful context where a "respectful discussion" of the issues can be fruitful.

As I've repeatedly alluded here, the issues the UI needs to address go well beyond Wellmark -- indeed, even the Wellmark naming issue can't be intelligently resolved without doing so in context. (Yesterday I wrote: "it will be a shame if this is perceived as merely the 'Wellmark-UI College of Public Health Naming Issue' when it is so much bigger and can more usefully be addressed in the larger context of the corporatization of higher education generally, and at the UI in particular").

As Hicks and Jordan remind us, virtually every university sees corporate infiltration as a potential problem -- and yet draws lines and makes distinctions that vary from campus to campus and don't always appear that persuasive or rational: name a professor for a corporation, but not her department or college; name a building but not a college; name a stadium or auditorium, but not an academic building; refuse to name anything but gladly accept corporate money.

Welcome to Iowa, Sally and Ken Mason! We'll return to this in a moment, but first we want to acknowledge the arrival, and first day on the job, of our new UI President Sally Mason. I don't know when she walked into her office, but by 6:32 a.m. this morning she had already sent the UI community an early morning greeting. Since it's a public document, I've made it available here. The Press-Citizen has also provided her an early morning editorial greeting and bit of advice, "Mason Must Start Job by Moving Forward," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 1, 2007, p. A!!. (It also has a follow-up story on the mysterious "5th Finalist" for the UI president position, Brian Morelli, "Missouri St. Leader 5th Finalist for UI Job; Says He Still Has Work to Do," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 1, 2007, p. A1 -- something I believe was known at the time but which, notwithstanding Missouri State President Mike Nietzel's repeated candid acknowledgment, "College of Dentistry Dean David Johnson, who led the UI search committee, declined to confirm or deny.")

More to come -- perhaps this afternoon (primarily references back to prior blog entries discussing these issues in greater depth (e.g., UI athletics department partnerships with organized gambling industry, etc.)) . . . Sorry, but the "more to come" is going to have to come tomorrow morning. It turned out there were a lot more prior blog entries on all this than I'd remembered. Meanwhile, don't miss the comments, below, on today's blog entry.

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted Michael Moore? Perhaps he could contribute some dollars so the college might become 'The Sicko College of Public Health'.

Anonymous said...

This controversy exposes several silly traditions.

One is the naming of hospitals and even colleges after mythic saints.

Why have 'University of Notre Dame', or 'Holy Cross University', derived from mythic religious figures who have not put down one nickel for naming rights.

Would not the 'General Motors University Fighting Irish' sound sound better than the current name? Besides, GM could contribute much more than some presumed Mother of Christ.

Why the Fuss about the 'Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield College of Public Health'? Big contributors like Harvard, and Brown, and Hopkins received naming rights.

Some might worry about the name 'Wellmark' which could well be changed at any minute. However naming a college after health insurance is good policy (so to speak). That would delay the inevitable slide into social medicine which would really harm public health (after all those 40 million without health care would be a tremendous burden to a company like Wellmark).

Just think how much better things would be if Enron had contributed monies to Iowa's School of Business years ago. We would proudly feature the "Enron College of Business" rather that the frumpy 'Tippie College of Business'.

Or the 'Maytag Department of Home Economics' which would be better off moving to Mexico, as Maytag did.

Silly people against this trend.

John Barleykorn said...

Re: Hogan

I noticed that UConn has a hospital and health system. I guess the people hiring there didn't feel he lacked in that areas.

It just shows how in control Wellmark was of the first process. When they didn't get their chosen yes-woman from Syracuse, the whole process was blown up. The lack of Health care thing was one of the biggest whoppers in our time.

North Liberty said...

Isn't that right...about UConn.

UConn just underwent an incredible rebuilding where the former governor of CT (now in jail) provided millions to revitalize the school. UConn now has nice facilities and a student body the envy of the Big East.

Yep, Hogan got kicked upstairs.

Anonymous said...

Well, if there is one thing that is now clear it is that anyone who is highly talented, with terrific vision, and unsurpassed integrity is destined to get kicked long and far out of this state.

I'm sure that leaders like Skorton, and now Hogan are just too much of a threat to the mighty Wellmark elite and the big-ego, narrow-visioned wannabe leaders like Fethke and Gartner. These idiots have left a complete mess in their wake -- ironically, it isn't the first time, but then, Iowa seems to be attracted to that.

If you're smart and have integrity, don't stick around UI; you don't have much of a future.

What a shame and a sham.

Anonymous said...

unbelievable. how can a university toss aside exceptional people like hogan? anonymous at 6pm may have it right-the big egos that cant measure up are just pushing out the competition. bullies. thats what they are -anotheranonymous

rx4iowa said...

I think North Liberty has it right. Good for Hogan! It is good for him to go to a place that is sure to pass up Iowa. It is a state that has actually invested in education all the way from pre-kindergarten on. Iowa sits around, watches education go down the toilet and it's supposed to be the education state. Then when things go sideways they blame the talents like Skorton and Hogan and do everything that they can to run them out of town.

Go for it Hogan. You deserve better than Iowa.