Thursday, January 06, 2005

On The Extinction of Woolly Mammoths

So we just have to wait two or three generations for these deluded souls to die off, I suppose.

Or am I missing something?

Joe Bonfort, what you are missing is that institutional biases have great staying power. This Professor Woolly is greatly biased and he brooks no disagreements, so it seems clear to me he believes himself to be a mammoth in his field and will exert great energy to make sure that no one with opposing political or academic views will enter his department. So even when he dies off, there will be someone to replace him.

Once such biases are introduced, the process naturally accelerates and the entire department gets worse and worse. If the department can tap funds from other parts of the university, it can continue indefinitely; but if each department is required to fund itself, the odious reputation scoundrels create may convince (given time and knowledge) the department's donors to reduce funding to the point that the entire department must close up shop, and its professors must seek employment elsewhere.

Then a new department can be created, or, more likely, perceptive administrators could foresee the final implosion and create a parallel, competant department in good time. So the Psychology Department will teach sociology, the Classics Department history, the Applied English Department english literature, and the Environmental Engineering program at the Engineering School will replace the Environmental Science Department in the School of Arts and Sciences.

But some students will be out of luck entirely. Some of these may decry the unfairness of their fate to university administrators, not realizing that in the long run they may be better off in a different major entirely rather than remain in a corrupted one, maybe not even knowing that their department was corrupt at all; it isn't something anyone involved in the process (donor, administrator, professor) would care to talk about: the donor doesn't want to admit he's been swindled, the administrator doesn't want to admit his university isn't all it's cracked up to be, and the professors stay quiet because they want to get another job.

It may seem incredible to the outsider or the student, but there may not even be a paper record of this process, as one can imagine everything happening quite naturally, just by word of mouth.

Naturally the students -- especially the graduate students -- will suffer. But in the long run, they may be better off in a different but honest occupation rather than start life with a corrupted college education.

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