SHAMEFUL ADMISSIONS by Angela Browne-Miller


The Losing Battle to Serve Everyone in Our Universities
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 The author, who has doctorates in education and social work, argues that intellectual standards in American universities have deteriorated to the point of crisis. This muddled book is powerful evidence that she is right. Browne-Miller tries to make the case that, since the '60s. attempts to create a more egalitarian distribution of opportunity, particularly for racial minorities, have led to academic decline and to social frustration among students, faculty, and administrators. She suggests a radical rethinking of higher education, based on vaguely holistic principles, culminating in replacement of the university by community-based educational centers for the many and think tanks for the few, and entailing years of community service in return for the privilege of education. Shameful Admissions raises some important questions, but the book is disorganized, riddled with unsupported assertions, and rife with purple prose (``Could it be that we have entered a trap, a trap in history, a social quagmire, a Sartrian hell from which there appears to be no exit?''). It is an uncooked stew of every campus controversy of recent years, including some, such as rising crime rates and faculty-student dating, that have no apparent connection to the book's subject. Browne-Miller, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, uses that campus as almost her sole example of the current academic climate, despite its unusual size, atypical demographics (almost a third of undergraduates are of Asian descent), and unique political history. She relies on astonishingly few authorities, considering the myriad questions she raises, and does so uncritically; she quotes Dinesh D'Souza and Andrea Dworkin with equal approbation, not in order to reach a synthesis, but as if she were a desperate attorney seeking support in case law for a proposition she doesn't fully understand. At least it will succeed in making alumni wonder what's going on at alma mater.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-7879-0182-2
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995