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Why Revenue Generation Can’t Solve the Crisis in Higher Education, Or, What’s That Smell?

By Nan Enstad

Abstract:

The emergence in the early 2000s of now-familiar cheerleading rhetoric about entrepreneurial innovation, income-generating projects, and public-private partnerships thinly masked an imperative for public university administrators to play a high-stakes game of seeking private funding to replace declining state support. The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened this preexisting financial crisis. This article examines the effects of seeking corporate partnerships as a solution to universities’ financial problems via a scandal at University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, in the 2010s. The university’s foundation illegally invested taxpayer dollars in several private companies, including financing a manure biodigester for a controversial dairy factory farm. Before their illegality was exposed, these investments conferred great prestige on university administrators as successful twenty-first-century administrator-entrepreneurs. The story reveals the untenable financial situation of public universities forced to become obsequious partners to corporations, the inadequacy of neoliberal solutions to the crisis in higher education, and the need for federal reinvestment. 

View the entire article "Why Revenue Generation Can’t Solve the Crisis in Higher Education, Or, What’s That Smell?"

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