A campus without disruption is polluted, like a river without fish or a defoliated forest along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. . . the campus is now like the compulsory ghetto. . . we must teach students how to cope with what they know -- how to beat us at our own game. . . . A curriculum is an elaborate treaty, negotiated in mandarin-like fashion. . . . Today's campus disruptions were born in the years 1776 to 1787. . . ."" The temptation is to go on quoting Birenbaum, an immensely appealing and humane educator with credentials to support his reformist stance. Currently president of Staten Island Community College (part of the CUNY system) and a cause celebre while provost at Long Island University several years ago, Birenbaum has written a very personal, candid recounting of a ""checkered and rather difficult professional career"" which began with a deanship at the University of Chicago, then at Wayne State, on to the New School for Social Research, next the LIU experience, some abortive work for Robert Kennedy's efforts to establish a community college in Bedford Stuyvesant (recently opened as Medgar Evers), and finally a college presidency. No comprehensive or systematic plan for reforming higher education is set forth here though ideas trickle through; mainly this is Birenbaum assessing and reassessing his origins and experiences: ""What haunts me is my credibility -- a central theme in my institutionalized, familialized, Americanized existence."" And there are amusing stories along the way (the party for LeRoi Jones at the New School which shocked the ladies, RFK's Bed-Sty modus operandi, etc.); but mostly it's musings of an educational administrator hanging in there: ""So little understanding passes over my desk. . . . There is no way to teach people accountability for possessing power other than to empower them. . . . Perhaps I will not survive long as president of the college."" The college president as student is a rare bird -- but that's Birenbaum.