English, Department of


Date of this Version



College Composition and Communication. 60.4 (2009): 683-706


It is no secret that the contemporary university values a model of efficiency, of tangible, quantifiable outcomes. Jan Currie and Lesley Vidovich (qtd. in Downing, Hurlbert, Mathieu 9) contend that since the 1980s, the boundaries between higher education, government, and business have largely deteriorated, and business discourse of "excellence" has come to dominate university culture. Consequently, output, outcomes, and efficiency are valorized over and above process, inquiry, and the inevitable tensions of learning. Stanley Aronowitz puts it this way: "[A]cademic leaders chant the mantra of excellence . . . [which] means ... all parts of the university 'perform' and are judged according to how well they deliver knowledge and qualified labor to the corporate" (158). More- over, according to David Downing, Claude Mark Hurlbert, and Paula Mathieu, administrators tend to promote "short-term, external signs of success, such as rankings, rather than . . . long-term educational and social value" (10).