UP THE UNIVERSITY by Robert Solomon

UP THE UNIVERSITY

Recreating Higher Education in America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The brothers Solomon--Robert (Philosophy/Univ. of Texas at Austin; A Passion for Justice, 1990, etc.) and Jon (Classics/Univ. of Arizona)--take a bracingly common-sensical approach--in the form of 137 sermonettes--to the problems everybody agrees are dogging the American university. Briskly eschewing the theoretical baggage of Allan Bloom and Charles Sykes, the authors argue that American universities, for all their energy and resourcefulness, have lost sight of their primary mission--undergraduate education--in the name of will-o'-the-wisp prestige and fat outside grants for research that, however valuable, often have scant connection to that educational mission. ``Professors are now for sale,'' the Solomons announce in the manner of Ross Perot, and they have plenty of homespun suggestions on how to bring the sheep and their straying shepherds back to the fold. Some of these are surprisingly persuasive: Require administrators to teach; hire students as tutors and advisors; end the ``five-year fraud'' that keeps so many students in college, paying out tuition, past their nominal graduation date. Other proposals, however, sound eccentric or cranky: Mandate open admissions in all state schools; discourage most high-school students from going on directly to college; replace tenured appointments with five-year contracts; abolish departments, course requirements, teaching awards, and used-book sales. There's something here to offend just about everyone--the authors' pamphleteering strain becomes coarsest in their remarks about English departments, those hotbeds of factitious political debate--but their deepest rancor is reserved for professional administrators, who come off looking like hired guns whose cupidity is equalled only by their ineptness. The Solomons' solution? Return university governance to the faculty while riding those wastrels out of town on a rail. A commonplace book more full of sound bites than a political convention: perfect bedside reading for academics who want to drift off to sleep believing that they really can make a difference in recalling the education business to its true vocation.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-201-57719-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992




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