There’s a great deal of discussion about the “corporatization” of the university, or about “academic capitalism,” and the infusion of market logics into higher education. Much of this literature has followed the money and –reasonably enough— emphasized the growing academic effort to capture commercially lucrative knowledge, large public grants, or tuition dollars. I myself have contributed to this literature, however modestly. But because I have also held administrative positions, I have access to at least some inside knowledge about the “corporatization” of the academy. And this more experiential form of data convinces me that the study of higher education has been somewhat one-sided, in that it has ignored important changes in budget and accounting systems within the academy (such as “resource-centered management”), or the spread of marketing and institutional “branding,” which have powerfully infused market logics into many leading American universities. Another issue that warrants much closer attention than it has received is what we might call (however inelegantly) the “adjunctification” of the professoriat.
A recent article on Forbes purported to rank the least stressful jobs, and perhaps predictably, sparked outrage among academics when it ranked being a university professor as the number one least stressful job. The article contains some dubious claims that might make you do a double-take if you work as a professor–among them that professors are “off” from May-September, enjoy long breaks during the school year, that there is “some” pressure to publish (!) and that “deadlines are few”. The ranking is based on markers of stress including but not limited to travel, competitiveness, growth potential, and risk to one’s own life or others.