The Faculty Lounges:
And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For
By Naomi Schaefer Riley
Ivan R. Dee, 216 pages
In 2008, the yearly tab for a four-year private college averaged some $27,000, up from $10,000 in 1980. An Ivy League education will break the bank further, at $38,000 a year—excluding bed and board. Where does all the money go? Some is easy to spot. There are the lavish sports facilities, gourmet cafeterias, posh dorms, and ever-sprouting new faculty buildings that have become commonplace on today’s campuses. But in her engaging new book, The Faculty Lounges, Naomi Schaefer Riley directs our attention, and her most discerning criticism, to higher education’s less visible expenditures: tenured professors.
Tenure, proponents say, is necessary to protect the “academic freedom” of professors from overzealous administrators. How better to ensure that great minds are left to their great thoughts and not distracted or compromised by the cruder affairs of institutional survival? But, asRiley informs us, this was not always tenure’s chief justification. Rather, tenure, or the “presumptive permanence” of academic positions, was intended to meet a financial, not an intellectual, need. Back when most people worked entire careers in one position, offering “economic security to a group of people who devoted long years to training for a job that didn’t provide much remuneration” seemed reasonable.
About the Author
David Kimble is a speechwriter at the United Nations and a part-time researcher at the Hoover Institution.