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Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education (Revised)

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How can you turn an English department into a revenue center? How do you grade students if they are "customers" you must please? How do you keep industry from dictating a university's research agenda? What happens when the life of the mind meets the bottom line? Wry and insightful, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line takes us on a cross-country tour of the most powe How can you turn an English department into a revenue center? How do you grade students if they are "customers" you must please? How do you keep industry from dictating a university's research agenda? What happens when the life of the mind meets the bottom line? Wry and insightful, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line takes us on a cross-country tour of the most powerful trend in academic life today--the rise of business values and the belief that efficiency, immediate practical usefulness, and marketplace triumph are the best measures of a university's success. With a shrewd eye for the telling example, David Kirp relates stories of marketing incursions into places as diverse as New York University's philosophy department and the University of Virginia's business school, the high-minded University of Chicago and for-profit DeVry University. He describes how universities "brand" themselves for greater appeal in the competition for top students; how academic super-stars are wooed at outsized salaries to boost an institution's visibility and prestige; how taxpayer-supported academic research gets turned into profitable patents and ideas get sold to the highest bidder; and how the liberal arts shrink under the pressure to be self-supporting. Far from doctrinaire, Kirp believes there's a place for the market--but the market must be kept in its place. While skewering Philistinism, he admires the entrepreneurial energy that has invigorated academe's dreary precincts. And finally, he issues a challenge to those who decry the ascent of market values: given the plight of higher education, what is the alternative?


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How can you turn an English department into a revenue center? How do you grade students if they are "customers" you must please? How do you keep industry from dictating a university's research agenda? What happens when the life of the mind meets the bottom line? Wry and insightful, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line takes us on a cross-country tour of the most powe How can you turn an English department into a revenue center? How do you grade students if they are "customers" you must please? How do you keep industry from dictating a university's research agenda? What happens when the life of the mind meets the bottom line? Wry and insightful, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line takes us on a cross-country tour of the most powerful trend in academic life today--the rise of business values and the belief that efficiency, immediate practical usefulness, and marketplace triumph are the best measures of a university's success. With a shrewd eye for the telling example, David Kirp relates stories of marketing incursions into places as diverse as New York University's philosophy department and the University of Virginia's business school, the high-minded University of Chicago and for-profit DeVry University. He describes how universities "brand" themselves for greater appeal in the competition for top students; how academic super-stars are wooed at outsized salaries to boost an institution's visibility and prestige; how taxpayer-supported academic research gets turned into profitable patents and ideas get sold to the highest bidder; and how the liberal arts shrink under the pressure to be self-supporting. Far from doctrinaire, Kirp believes there's a place for the market--but the market must be kept in its place. While skewering Philistinism, he admires the entrepreneurial energy that has invigorated academe's dreary precincts. And finally, he issues a challenge to those who decry the ascent of market values: given the plight of higher education, what is the alternative?

30 review for Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education (Revised)

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Chizum

    Kirp, David L. (2003). 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education.' Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Due to economic pressures, the race to earn reputation, the enticement of the technological frontier, and the influx of best practices from the business world, the face of American higher education is changing. According to David L. Kirp, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkley, and author of 'Shakespea Kirp, David L. (2003). 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education.' Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Due to economic pressures, the race to earn reputation, the enticement of the technological frontier, and the influx of best practices from the business world, the face of American higher education is changing. According to David L. Kirp, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkley, and author of 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education,' these external and internal forces are altering the form and shifting the purpose of the university away from the familiar brick-walled and Greek-pillared halls, where learning for the individual’s sake and the public good is the rule, towards the unrecognizable: consumer-informed education, top-dogism among institutions seeking a competitive advantage, and the exploitation of education to bolster the bottom line. Engaging, informative, and at times shocking, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line showcases the methods used to market higher education for better and for worse. What is the effect of turning the Admissions office into a profit center, forcing every department to break even or suffer a penalty (including music), hiring superstar professors in order to gain reputation while chasing after rankings at U.S. News & World Reports, or taking learning online to attract broader demographics? Apart from the introduction and the concluding chapter, Kirp lets a host of in-depth case studies, covering a comprehensive set of issues, speak for themselves. The case studies reveal successes and inadvertent consequences of integrating business practices and market values with the university, illustrated by institutions including Arcadia University, University of California (numerous campuses), University of Chicago, Columbia University, Dickinson College, University of Michigan, MIT, New York Law School, New York University, Rhodes College in Memphis, University of Southern California, University of Virginia, Great Britain’s "Open University," University of Phoenix, and DeVry University, of which the last two are for-profits. As many admit, it is not difficult to apply business language to higher education—though it is uncomfortable for some. However, unlike other so-called markets, the university needs its consumers as much as its consumers need them, explains Kirp. That is, universities not only seek to be sellers, but they seek out the best buyers, top students. But because, historically speaking, the mission of the university is so distinct from that of the business world, Kirp emphasizes that the “higher education marketplace” has more power as a metaphor than as a definition (p. 3). Yet, the higher education marketplace is not completely relegated to a metaphor. Due to the impact of market forces upon education due in part to retreats in government funding, Kirp states there is no returning to past visions for higher education, such as Cardinal John Henry Newman’s nineteenth-century Idea of a University in which education alone is the mission of the university, or Thorstein Veblen’s early twentieth-century hope in Higher Learning in America in which pure research is the only true purpose of the university, and producing graduates is largely beneath it. These visions are instead consigned to nostalgia because, as Kirp argues, “what is new, and troubling, is the raw power that money directly exerts over so many aspects of higher education” (p. 3). Competitive pressures have transformed the university from without while universities have from within reinvented and redefined higher education to include entrepreneurism as a virtue, Kirp observes, when it was so recently regarded as an evil, even if a necessary one. No wonder Kirp states the university has been coined by some “academic capitalism,” the “entrepreneurial university,” and the “enterprise university”—“the zeitgeist is the market” (p. 6). But while traditional non-profits, churches, hospitals, and museums, embrace more and more the market-driven mindset, Kirp asks the obvious question: why should higher education be any different? While some universities are hurt and others seem to prosper while led by market and business practices, Kirp states the reason higher education should be different is this: "Embedded in the very idea of the university—not the storybook idea, but the university at its truest and best—are values that the market does not honor: the belief in a community of scholars and not a confederacy of self-seekers; in the idea of openness and not ownership; in the professor as a pursuer of truth and not an entrepreneur; in the student as an acolyte whose preferences are to be formed, not a consumer whose preferences are to be satisfied" (p. 6). While this is Kirp’s desired path for higher education, he does not find it broadly witnessed and, in cases where business practice is beneficially integrated into higher education without sacrificing its mission, the story almost always ends in martyrdom for its implementer. As a result, the two questions the body of 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line' seeks most to answer are: is market-driven higher education—like it or not—the way of the future, and is that higher education or something else entirely? 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education' is a beneficial and insightful read for those interested in educational philosophy, those who want a broad view of marketing and the impact of market forces on higher education, and especially for higher education administrators who inevitably must make decisions based on limited resources and raising the institution’s stock. Whether it’s the virtue/vice of chasing after 'U.S. News & World Reports' rankings or revising the institution’s image, as Beaver College did when it rebranded itself Arcadia University—a name which arrives early on lists, is easy to say, is memorable, and avoids the double-entendre which made it the target of jokes and which caused the institution to be filtered from many high schools’ Internet browsers—there are handfuls of helpful examples on which to reflect and draw. And, as an added benefit, the case study format allows topics of interest to be read out of sequence without losing the large picture (Kirp even helpfully cites chapters he references for the reader). The only downsides are that for this same reason individual case studies—even those within the same chapter—may seem disjointed and unrelated from each other, leaving the reader to ask what the main connecting theme or message is. And for those who are champions of the liberal arts or Kirp’s definition of the university, the book may be more than a bit depressing. That said, though fragmented in its delivery, 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education' presents an ambitious amount of real-life examples from a plethora of institutions. Those interested in learning from the marketing successes and inadvertent consequences that implementing business practices into higher education have had would do well to learn about them here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nils

    A bit dated now, since it was published in 2003 and reflects the throes of the dot-com boom and the bust that followed. But precisely for that reason, it is also a salutary reminder that the sense of crisis over funding is nothing new to universities, and is not simply a product of the post-Lehman financial environment. It's also a useful reminder that the promise of distance learning is hardly some that the MOOCs discovered, but in fact has been seen as a potential salvation for higher educatio A bit dated now, since it was published in 2003 and reflects the throes of the dot-com boom and the bust that followed. But precisely for that reason, it is also a salutary reminder that the sense of crisis over funding is nothing new to universities, and is not simply a product of the post-Lehman financial environment. It's also a useful reminder that the promise of distance learning is hardly some that the MOOCs discovered, but in fact has been seen as a potential salvation for higher education and a vehicle for democratizing learning ever since the first correspondence courses were made possible by the standardization of the Mail rates. The creeping "privatization" of the University is also nothing new; the truth is, no matter where the university gets its money from, it involves a set of uncomfortable compromises. If it comes from the government, this creates political compromises, as many universities discovered during the Cold War. If it is student tuition, it is not only ruinous and exclusive, but creates a situation in which the "customers" increasingly get to dictate the pedagogy. If it is corporations, it may drive away basic research. A mix of revenues if probably the best solution,

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allison Lyman

    This book took me years (LITERAL YEARS) to finish. As someone passionate about higher education, I really enjoyed most of the book. However, sometimes the language and setting was so esoteric it took away from the larger points being made. For example, for the life of me I could not get invested in the California schools and IT certification section. However, when the book made references to colleges and universities I know well, it made for an interesting read (my sister is an alumna of Dickins This book took me years (LITERAL YEARS) to finish. As someone passionate about higher education, I really enjoyed most of the book. However, sometimes the language and setting was so esoteric it took away from the larger points being made. For example, for the life of me I could not get invested in the California schools and IT certification section. However, when the book made references to colleges and universities I know well, it made for an interesting read (my sister is an alumna of Dickinson College so it was interesting to read about Bill Durden and I am an alumna of UVA so I could relate to the chapter on the Darden School of Business). All in all a great look at many problems in higher education today but sometimes the authors are too smart to relate to his audience. I don't think anyone other than Higher Ed professionals would enjoy this book very much.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Are American colleges engaged in an arms race that has nothing to do with education? Are public universities "state-assisted" or merely "state-located"? To whom do schools "market" their wares and are these wares truly *different*? Kirp brings over a dozen different institutions of higher education to the table to investigate a central question: How do the demands within the market of higher ed play out for its stakeholders? Some chapters can err a bit towards particularity, running the risk of Are American colleges engaged in an arms race that has nothing to do with education? Are public universities "state-assisted" or merely "state-located"? To whom do schools "market" their wares and are these wares truly *different*? Kirp brings over a dozen different institutions of higher education to the table to investigate a central question: How do the demands within the market of higher ed play out for its stakeholders? Some chapters can err a bit towards particularity, running the risk of excluding the reader, but overall he does a really great job of putting educational philosophy in conversation with economics and the elite individuals who pull the strings (and being skeptical about whether the conversation should exist at all...)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Roberts

    I loved this book. It has several reviews on the back cover of the paperback, and this one is perfect. So ditto from me! "David Kirp...is a professor of public policy but writes with the light touch of an investigative journalist. Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line is not censorious. It is devoid of wishful thinking and very acute about the dilemmas facing university presidents trying to run an enterprise that is invariably short of money—even Harvard would cheerfully spend a great deal mo I loved this book. It has several reviews on the back cover of the paperback, and this one is perfect. So ditto from me! "David Kirp...is a professor of public policy but writes with the light touch of an investigative journalist. Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line is not censorious. It is devoid of wishful thinking and very acute about the dilemmas facing university presidents trying to run an enterprise that is invariably short of money—even Harvard would cheerfully spend a great deal more money if it had it—and facing the demands of faculty, students, alumni, and trustees, who have their own visions of what the institution ought to be." –Alan Ryan, Times Literary Supplement

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marianna

    This was by far my favorite of all required reading for my Higher Education Administration program. I would highly recommend it for anyone working or interested in higher ed or generally intrigued by the creeping marketization of the nonprofit world. Kirp discusses the phenomenon of universities becoming increasingly business-like by giving concrete examples at different institutions and in various aspects of higher ed (marketing, recruitment, techonology, etc.). A very timely topic that will co This was by far my favorite of all required reading for my Higher Education Administration program. I would highly recommend it for anyone working or interested in higher ed or generally intrigued by the creeping marketization of the nonprofit world. Kirp discusses the phenomenon of universities becoming increasingly business-like by giving concrete examples at different institutions and in various aspects of higher ed (marketing, recruitment, techonology, etc.). A very timely topic that will continue to receive attention in the context of higher education and the nonprofit realm in general.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    It's been awhile since I read this book but for those trying to get a handle of the marketing of higher education and its implication on the industry -- yes INDUSTRY of education, it provides a balanced view of a very complex situation in an entirely accessible way. A must read if your interested in the current history of higher education. Kirp, it should be noted, is a professor of public policy at Berkley and came to explore this phenomenon as a researcher with a fairly objective eye. Refreshin It's been awhile since I read this book but for those trying to get a handle of the marketing of higher education and its implication on the industry -- yes INDUSTRY of education, it provides a balanced view of a very complex situation in an entirely accessible way. A must read if your interested in the current history of higher education. Kirp, it should be noted, is a professor of public policy at Berkley and came to explore this phenomenon as a researcher with a fairly objective eye. Refreshingly, he is not trying to sell anything, adding to his authenticity and integrity in relating this story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    As I read this, I keep adding sticky notes so I remember to return to certain passages. Already I have six or eight stickies in the first 75 pages. Kirp offers an unexpected vantage point on higher ed, even in his introduction. Not dry at all, surprisingly, and much easier reading than I anticipated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This is a great overview of the various ways colleges have integrated themselves into the free market, sometimes controversially. Kirp is urbane and funny, and the material is as engaging as any on the topic could be: anyone curious about how the economy affects college financial aid, admissions processes, and administration should pick this up first.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Derek Shouba

    I thought these case studies were very interesting and helped me to think about the sometimes artificial way we categorize different segments of the higher education apparatus. I suppose it must seem dated now.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Harrison

    This book explains what's happened to higher education over the past few decades. It explains the topic well, but one could only wish Kirp's writing style was less busy and wordy, which undermines his powerful ideas. This book explains what's happened to higher education over the past few decades. It explains the topic well, but one could only wish Kirp's writing style was less busy and wordy, which undermines his powerful ideas.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Burke Scarbrough

    A fascinating account of how market forces, for better and worse, are changing the roles of higher education and the positioning of students from learners shaped by colleges to clients whose preferences shape colleges.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Thanks, Harvard Extension School class on Higher Education Strategy and Management! Very interesting book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    This book didn't prove to be the easy read that I had hoped... One thing I could take away was that being progressive doesn't always mean that the changes will stick. This book didn't prove to be the easy read that I had hoped... One thing I could take away was that being progressive doesn't always mean that the changes will stick.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    My dad is quoted several times in this book! :) p. 211 & 214 I think...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rocke

  20. 4 out of 5

    Keith

  21. 4 out of 5

    N C

  22. 4 out of 5

    Greg Sheridan

  23. 5 out of 5

    drlala

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jake Woodford

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate O'Shea

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maurice Savard

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

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