Nebraska Network 21



Stephen Hillard

Date of this Version

December 2000


“I want to go to graduate school in English," said my student Peter, then blurted out, "and be a professor, like you." I bit my lip not to say something deflating--at the end of the semester I didn't feel my life should be anyone's goal. I knew that he pictured the life of a professor as reading interesting books, talking about them with enthusiastic students like himself, doing research one loves, and serving on a few committees. And being paid for doing this! I didn't warn Peter that the scholarly life he aspires to is seen as a scam by critics of higher education. They accuse the faculty of neglecting teaching, resisting new ideas, and indulging in useless research at taxpayers' expense. They predict (and hope) that many of our functions can be replaced by computer programs. We can address the specific charges well enough, but they reflect a growing distrust of universities that is seriously eroding our support and undermining our efforts.