chapter  6
9 Pages

Surviving through engagement: the faculty responsibility to defend liberal education: S.Elizabeth Bird

ByS. Elizabeth Bird

The university is in crisis – or so we are told with increasing urgency.1 This is not only a US issue; a quick Google search turned up (on the first page) documents that declare crises across the globe – Australia,2 China,3 Germany,4 the Czech Republic,5 – and on and on. The reasons vary, although the new global economic realities are, of course, paramount. And in the United States, economic pressures have served as a catalyst for a growing sense of unease about the very foundation upon which traditional universities are built, as politicians, pundits, and the public debate where scarce resources should be invested – and where university education belongs on the scale of value. While private institutions have been affected, the state-funded sector has suffered most, as budgets have been slashed across the country. In this chapter, I address some of the pressures that constitute the perceived crisis in

the United States, before addressing ways in which faculty in the United States and beyond might work to ensure that universities do continue to matter. As state budgets are squeezed, we hear increasing calls for measurable accountability. In my own state of Florida, for example, the Board of Governors of the State University System recently announced new rules for universities, which must now submit work plans and annual reports that detail graduation rates, enrollment, budgets, long-and short-term goals, and so on. The system Chancellor, former Lieutenant Governor Frank Brogan, advocates the accountability requirements “to keep ourselves on track and to demonstrate that scarce resources are being put to the greatest use possible.”6