National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2006


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 7:1, Spring/Summer 2006. Copyright © 2006 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


In “Saving Honors in the Age of Standardization,” Linda Frost astutely observes the confluence of two disturbing trends in higher education that are generating a current so deep and swift that one wonders if resistance is possible: the business model for education and the standardization of educational processes, especially through testing. Hardly an issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education appears without an article or discussion featuring business practices or business leaders dominating the landscape of this or that college or university. Rarely does a meeting with or missive from an administrator not include some element directly connected to one of these trends. Here in Georgia, the new Chancellor of the University System of Georgia is a business person and former CEO. My institution, Georgia Perimeter College—the third-largest school in the University System—has initiated a search for a new president, and the Chair of the Screening Committee is a business professor, as is another of only three total faculty on the committee. None are faculty members from the English Department, a humanities discipline, or one of the social sciences. What will be the background and passions of this new president is the obvious question, but the answers feel eerily preordained. Five to ten years ago, I recall, my somewhat reductive but comforting pat explanation for the hiring of business people as administrators at all levels of college and universities was that they seemed like people who were not smart or clever enough to make it in the business world. Outmaneuvering academics, however, was a game they could play, and we were fair and easy game. Moreover, everyone qualifies as an expert on education because all of us endured elementary, middle-school, high-school, and college classrooms for years. The situation has become more serious in recent years, and finding comfort in pat answers and reductionist barbs is not easy. I worry that the future of teaching is a race to retirement against the accelerating forces of standardization and business practices. Certainly that is not the epitaph I would like to read about my career in education, nor is it the environment I want my students to experience.