Friday, October 1, 2010

More on State Schools vs Ivy League Schools

I have written before on why state schools are often a lot better for both students and professors than the super-prestigious, extremely expensive Ivy League universities. Every day, I discover more things that make the balance tip heavily towards universities that aren't daunted by the Ivy fame and dubious fortune.

Take for example the perennially painful issue of the relationship between academics and university administrators. Everybody who has been following this blog knows that I view college administrators as enemies of genuine learning and scholarship. However, there are always gradations in this long-standing animosity between administrators and professors. In Ivy League schools, junior faculty members are treated like crap. There is simply no other word for it. They are overloaded with endless administrative assignment and then persecuted for not being active enough in research. An administrator will never even greet a junior faculty member if they see one on campus or in the hallway. You are treated like a pariah who has to be grateful simply to be tolerated in such an important and famous school. Even a very minor administrator will never agree to give you an appointment and will disregard your e-mails for months. None of this is conducive to helping younger scholars feel good about themselves, which is exactly what the administrators of such schools want. If they convince young academics that they are worthless nobodies, it will be easy to treat them disrespectfully and exploit them without any protest on the part of these junior faculty members.

Even though the relationship between administrators and teaching faculty at less prestigious universities is still painful, it is a lot less humiliating than at Ivy League schools. In the past two weeks, for instance, I have had separate lunch appointments with our Dean and our Chancellor (who is the equivalent of the President of the University at Yale.) Both of them knew my name, what I teach, and listened attentively to what I had to say. They also mentioned how important what I do is for the university and how great it is to have me here. When I compare this attitude to the condescending questions addressed to me by a Cornell administrator ("So who do you say you are? When did we hire you? You do realize that you'll have to leave next year, right?"), I feel blessed that I don't have to be exposed to Ivy humiliations any more.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if part of the difference in the treatment of junior faculty at Ivies vs. state universities can be explained by the fact that many/most of the Ivies have a stronger link to their monastic origins -- where junior devotees were stereotypically treated poorly.


soonerscotty said...

The only two schools mentioned in your post are Yale and Cornell...both Ivies. How does this demonstrate State vs Ivy/Private??

Clarissa said...

Right now I work at a state university. The story in the last paragraph, for instance, is about my current state university.