In “What's Really New about the Neoliberal University? The Business of American Education Has Always Been Business,” Ellie Shermer does us all a favor by confirming rather decisively that a Golden Age of mid-twentieth-century public universities was indeed a fiction, even on the core ground of funding. While post–World War II higher education has been widely faulted for its excruciatingly slow inclusion of students of color, and even slower progress in the faculty, Shermer points out that the money was lousy too. On the federal level, a divided Congress beholden to Dixiecrats never did fund colleges and universities directly, and certainly not on a level that would allow equal treatment of students at what we now call minority-serving institutions. It focused more on disguising support for students of color than on actually supporting them. When tuition hikes and student debt became national political problems around 2010, policy-makers were building not...
Old Neoliberalism in the US University
CHRISTOPHER NEWFIELD is director of research at the Independent Social Research Foundation and was Distinguished Professor of Literature and American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written a trilogy of books on the university as an intellectual and social institution: Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880–1980 (2003); Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (2008); and The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them (2016). He is currently president-elect of the Modern Language Association. He is coauthor of What Metrics Matter? Academic Life in the Quantified University (2022) and coeditor of The Limits of the Numerical (2022).
Christopher Newfield; Old Neoliberalism in the US University. Labor 1 December 2021; 18 (4): 92–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-9361807
Download citation file: