at the new school, the faculty and students are revolting


[photo of monkey handler attacked by his own monkeys from the Telegraph.]

Though corporate management has done plenty of damage in the last few months to corporations, employees, and  communities, it’s worth remembering how many so-called “innovations” in education were justified by the corporate model.  Now we all know how well that is working out.

For that reason alone, we should all be watching the collapse of Bob Kerrey‘s leadership at the New School with some interest.  Kerrey, who was hired in 2001 to lead the financially pressed New School, had nothing more than a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a (thin yet still dwindling) political resume as former governor and senator from Nebraska.  In today’s current political environment, Kerrey has all the pathos of one of those toxic, overgrown child stars on the E! Network.  Why is this guy even alive? we wonder.  Is there anyone alive who still cares about this guy? And yet at one time Kerrey could pass as a credible future face for the Democratic party, though Kerrey’s future was foreclosed the moment when that other Kerry finished his big stinkeroo of a presidential campaign.

So the Trustees at the New School got exactly what they deserved when they hired Mr. Governor Star Power, but I doubt the students and faculty ever bought into Kerrey, whose politics have been really execrable neoliberal crapola, and whose academic leadership focused on getting rid of tenured faculty, hiring part-timers, sucking up to donors, condescending to students, and pretty much lying to everyone, as this money quote from the NY Times piece shows:

“That’s the problem with Bob Kerrey,” said Mr. Schlesinger, a son of the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. “He charms everybody when they first meet him and then something happens and he turns around and punches them in the stomach. After that, you say, ‘How can I trust this guy?’

Remember, this is someone whose “ahead of the curve vision” for a “twenty-first century” university somehow omitted a research library.  So I suppose that all those world-famous scholars will just have to use Google.

Ultimately, I think Kerrey is going to step down, because he broke that first cardinal rule of university presidents: never embarass the trustees.  And I do hope that this incident directs some of that bad publicity onto the heads of those sh*tty trustees for hiring and supporting the guy.   But Kerrey does have some value as a symptomatic figure, one who shows the costs that universities pay when they hire star power presidents, and forget about the academic mission of the institutions they are supposed to lead.


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