“[T]he Walmartization of higher education.”

29 05 2010

This is the sort of thing I expect to find at RYS, not the pages of Academe. Nevertheless, here it is:

At a community college in Maryland, many faculty members have ignored an administrative initiative that one professor says puts him in a position similar to that of a sales clerk in a department store.

Over the past year, Prince George’s Community College has issued name badges to every college employee that ask, “Have you been served well?” President Charlene Dukes says the badges are part of a campuswide campaign for “quality service” that focuses on providing students with the information and support they need to reach their academic goals.

For faculty, she says, that might include helping students find referrals for services outside the classroom or assistance with financial aid. “We expect our faculty to get to know their students by name and the types of academic need they have,” says Dukes. “We don’t mandate that faculty wear them, but we encourage them to do it, and some do.”

Faculty members have been cool to the badge campaign. Associate professor Earl Yarington says very few wear the badges. The badges put faculty in the position of delivering a product, preferably with a smile; the student is buying the course and the prized higher education credits.

“The problem is—I’m not selling them shoes,” says Yarington. “It’s the Walmartization of higher education and it’s a disturbing trend.”

I guess I could just chuckle and let this one slide. After all, most of the faculty is ignoring the initiative. Nevertheless, I think this is indicative of something more.

Students are the LAST people who understand whether they’ve been “served well.” Or, perhaps, you only figure out whether you’ve been served well long after you leave college.

The problem is all these administrators who seem to think that education is a commodity like toilet paper or cheap plastic crap from China. It’s not. Paying tuition does not guarantee that you get it. If students don’t put everything they can into the process, learning will not come out the end. That badge is an invitation to blame the professor for whatever shortcomings you have, when perhaps students would be better served if we encouraged them to look inward instead.


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23 08 2012
Walmart State College - Forbes

[…] Walmartization of the university (also called the corporatization of higher ed) is a common complaint by some faculty. The charge is […]

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