American Universities and Corporatization Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2801 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports

University Sports Scandals Aren't a New Phenomenon

College sports programs actually began to become troublesome a hundred and fourteen years ago, when, at the turn of the century, scandals and an over-abundance of student frenzied behaviors caused administrators to establish oversight committees to regulate football (Kissinger, et al., 2009). Moreover, by the 1920s, some historically black college and universities' football programs (some dating to 1892) were called into question because of the fact that educational goals -- and eligibility requirements -- for black athletes were put on the back shelf in favor of sports success stories (Kissinger, 2009).

Kissinger references a 1930 study by Savage that showed that once student-athletes graduated, there was nowhere for those individuals to work based on what they had learned from playing football. The bottom line to the Savage research showed that the way colleges recruited and treated student athletes was an anathema to the whole point of seeking an education (Kissinger, 2009). Another research project that Kissinger references -- by Tunis in 1961 -- showed that the popularity of university sports programs (especially football) somehow had a negative effect on student morality across the board (Kissinger, 2009).

Colleges today in an Era of Commercialization and Consumerism

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There is no doubt that over the past ten to twenty years higher education has become commercialized to an extent that raises red flags and causes great concern. Among the many great concerns that are being expressed and documented in the literature is that the essence of learning is being pushed aside by the profit motive and corporate intrusions into academia. Elvira Nica explains that while higher education should be functioning as a place of learning, a place to prepare students for a high-tech society, a significant portion of the student population at universities are seen by corporate America as market-based human capital that investors can use to achieve higher profits (Nica, 2014).

Research Paper on American Universities and Corporatization Assignment

Nica insists that higher education today needs to create excitement in students when it comes to learning and developing new skills -- skills that are vital to the challenges presented by the emerging global economy -- but instead in many instances students are viewed as debt laborers servicing the investments made by corporations (Nica, 2014). In particular, for-profit universities are failing to graduate students that are well-rounded, and they are failing to hire and train faculty that are motivated by knowledge and not by financial gains, Nica continues. Scientists whose research doesn't directly lead to technologies that can be marketed in the global economy are being pushed aside, and humanities education (and research) at public universities could actually become extinct, Nica asserts, because those interested in philosophy, languages, literature, religion, history, law and visual and performing arts, are not on the receiving end of corporate grants for science and technology (Nica, 2014).

Unfortunately, Nica continues, because many universities offer curricula that is based on market metrics, on technical savoir-faire, and not on producing well rounded, well educated graduates, the student in many instances is relegated to becoming a kind of consumer good (Nica, 2014). In other words students are being shuffled through courses that are strictly based on future earnings, not on knowledge that offers a perspective on relevant history juxtaposed with what is happening today. Because many private universities are run as businesses (firms), those universities are vulnerable to becoming part of the stock market daily report, and this has created a situation where students see themselves as customers (Nica, 2014). Moreover, because universities are becoming corporatized, power is being transferred from professors (and other faculty) to the university management professionals, who are becoming pawns of corporate America; what this means for students is higher tuitions and lower standards vis-a-vis a broadly-based, thoughtfully created education.

What do Faculty Members have to say about Commercialization of Knowledge?

Substantial evidence exists that many faculty members have very serious concerns about the effectiveness, the worthiness and the ethics involved when knowledge becomes commercialized (Goldstein, et al., 2013). Should universities -- and professors and other stakeholders -- take an active role in the commercialization of knowledge, or in the promotion of economic advancement and development in business regions within the geographical scope of any given university? Or is the idea of allowing a university to partner with a corporation -- in order to being commercial theories and policies into places of higher learning -- an anathema to the centuries-old idea of a well-rounded education? The answer to the first question, according to Goldstein and colleagues, probably not; and the answer to the second question is a resounding yes.

Goldstein asserts that significant numbers of faculty do make the distinction between: a) the general good that can be gained when universities extend a helping hand to the economic development in their region; and b) the commercialization of knowledge that is produced within the structure of the university. The distinction that faculty make is that yes, universities should contribute to the general welfare of the cities and regions where they are located; but no, when it comes to knowledge that is linked to profit, and where conflicts of interest are inevitable, that is not a positive approach for higher education (Goldstein, 2013).

A survey referenced by Goldstein -- of faculty in 115 research universities in the U.S. that specialize in natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences -- showed that a huge majority of those faculty approved of allowing their universities to support local and regional development (Goldstein, 2013). A majority also supported having faculty become consultants for private firms, Goldstein explained. But a majority of faculty did not support the idea of allowing their universities to offer start-up assistance, or to make financial investments to, private companies outside the university (Goldstein, 2013).


In Fred Buining's video he calls the challenges facing higher education today the eye of the hurricane, because like a hurricane -- which has a calm center but violent outer rings -- things can seem to be settled and comfortable for awhile before more turmoil breaks out. Buining outlines several of the issues that have been presented in this paper, but he emphasizes that there has been no critical mass in terms of leaders in higher education coming together to resolve -- through best practices -- contentious issues. The issues referenced in this paper (commercialization; and corruption through athletics) and a drifting away from the tradition strength of advanced educational value, need to be understood before they can be fully addressed. But unless they are addressed -- through better role modeling, in Buining's words -- higher education could continue to be gobbled up by corporations that zero in on profits, not knowledge in the purist sense of the word. And the sports-related billions in television money universities rake in will continue, which will tempt universities to recruit athletes short on intellect but strong when it comes to competitive talent. That will, in turn, result ultimately in more fake course work, a mockery of learning, and the inevitable embarrassing sanctions to follow revelations by whistleblowers.

Works Cited

Barrett, P.M. (2014). In Fake Classes Scandal, UNC Fails Its Athletes -- and Whistleblower.

Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

Barrett, P.M. (2014). The NCAA Will Investigate Fake-Classes Scandal at UNC. Bloomberg

Businessweek. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

Buining, F. (2008). Complex Changes in Higher Education. YouTube. Retrieved July 20,

2014, from

Dowling, W.C. (2001). Big-Time Sports as Academic Prostitution. Academic Questions,

14(4), 82-91.

Gaines, C. (2013). Twenty colleges that make the most money from sports. Business Insider.

Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

Kihl, L.A., Richardson, T., and Campisi, C. (2008). Toward a Grounded Theory of Student-

Athlete Suffering and Dealing with Academic Corruption. Journal of Sports Management,

22(3), 273-302.

Kissinger, D.B., and Miller, M.T.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

American Universities and Corporatization.  (2014, July 20).  Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

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"American Universities and Corporatization."  July 20, 2014.  Accessed September 27, 2020.