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Following the money trail in higher education

August 3, 2010

University presidents have come under fire of late for their generous salaries and their lucrative side jobs on corporate boards. Brown University President Ruth Simmons faced criticism earlier this year for the role she played as a board member at Goldman Sachs, the financial giant now synonymous with excessive bankers’ bonuses.

Simmons, who stepped down from the Goldman board citing time constraints but still serves on the board of another company, Texas Instruments, earned a mention in The New York Times again last week. The article that questions whether academics are qualified to run complex corporate institutions. Critics also charge that serving on one or more corporate boards distracts university presidents from their campus duties, though Simmons and others defend the practice, saying both the university and the company benefit from diverse perspectives.

 In their new book Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids – And What We Can Do About It, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus also criticize university administrators, who they argue make too much money and spend too little time addressing the rising cost of higher education. The problem, they say, stems from rising salaries, too many administrators and not enough classes taught by full-time professors. Mark Bauerlein reviews the book this week for the Wall Street Journal.

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