The Scientist is a magazine of contemporary science dealing with new findings as well as the politics of academic and industry research. I wish I had written this recent opinion piece. It highlights the critical changes in the academic culture and describes the moral failure of modern universities to support and encourage scholarly research across all academic disciplines.
We tend to think egocentrically that "our own institutions" offer the "worst" examples of commercialization and commodification of academic life, but the article by Dr. Fred Southwick of the University of Florida, shows that the loss of academic integrity in the pursuit of money is more endemic than one might imagine. As a former university administrator and a current member of the faculty, I see and feel these pressures all the time. The pressures to get the grants, "go where the money is," bring in the indirects, are particularly intense in schools of medicine--even moreso in those that are not a part of a state university system.
It is not at all uncommon to throw up medical buildings at mega-expense as fast as possible in the hopes of covering the costs through indirect cost returns on grants generated by the faculty--while at the same time informing the staff that there can be no raises and no internal support for research and scholarship. These edifices are being constructed on quicksand--given the economic uncertainties we face hese days.
Southwick hammers home this point clearly and argues that the results of all this commodification is a loss of faculty creativity and enthusiasm for taking risks into uncharted territories of scholarship and research. Southwick is right in claiming that teaching--especially at the undergraduate level--also suffers--especially in the arts and sciences.
I wish it were otherwise. I come from a different time when it was possible (and encouraged by Deans and university presidents) to explore and chart new paths. It was a Golden Age and I am sorry that the next generations of university faculty and students will not be able to share it.