Thursday, December 22, 2005

Colleges being who they are 

Another story of university restructuring, but this time not forced by a hurricane. According to Inside Higher Ed, Post University is eliminating its liberal arts majors to focus on vocational education.
Post, in Waterbury, Conn., was founded as a private university in 1890, and has always had a strong vocational orientation. The university has seen some radical changes in governance. In 1990, Post became one of several American colleges that affiliated with the Teikyo Group, from Japan. Post became Teikyo Post University. Last year, when Teikyo pulled out, private investors purchased Post and it traded in its nonprofit status to become a for-profit (and profitable) entity.

Now the university � with about 1,400 students � plans to stop offering liberal arts degrees and to focus on academic programs directly linked to careers. No full-time faculty members will lose their jobs. But there will be shifts in priorities for adjunct hiring � and part-time faculty members teach a major proportion of classes at Post.

Jon Jay De Temple, president of Post for the last five years, said that he believes the institution needs focus. �We�re not big enough to do everything for everybody,� he said.

What a surprise -- become a for-profit university and you "need focus". Why? Is it perhaps that a university that has no profit motive can indulge in its preferences for arts programs? Or is it that the full-time faculty there would not have taken their positions in lib arts fields if they didn't have their own majors? I recall economics faculty at Harvey Mudd College, which is the engineering school of the Claremont Colleges and a very high-ranking institution in its fields. Many of its students will take humanities courses at other Claremont colleges because HMC isn't "big enough to do everything for everybody.� By contracting out, in other words, HMC can devote more resources to what it does best.