Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education - David L. Kirp, (2003). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

November 2012

David Kirp is a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.  His astuteness to university culture and the politics of the academy is evident as he discusses how universities are negating their academic significance while they court the market.  He feels that liberal arts mission creep is inevitable as the best universities such as Harvard, UC-Berkeley, Vanderbilt,  and Stanford compete with the for-profits like DeVry and the University of Phoenix.  These conflicts are played out when universities debate stiffer admission requirements versus larger enrollments, liberal arts versus specific training, and the importance of academic standards versus the profit margin. Kirp explores these dualities as he takes us on a cross-country tour of the most powerful trend in academic life today which is the belief that efficiency, immediate practical usefulness, and marketplace triumph are the best measures of a university's success.  Kirp's advice is that we must recognize that the rhythms of the external world have changed and these changes directly affect the internal life of universities. The faster pace and rapid growth of the institution requires more rapid, year-round responses to initiatives and a clearer process of decision-making so that universities can make meaningful changes and adaptions in a timely way.  As I read this book, it reminded me that as a College of Education, we need to be vigilant of educational trends, nimble enough to adapt to market demands, and at the same time, tethered to academic integrity.