judged according to their ability. This is what happened in Electrical Engineering in the wake of Crosbyton. Ten of 31 professors, including the respected longtime chairman, have left in the past two years. Elbow contends that the program formerly Tech’s most renowned is permanently damaged: “Twenty years from now that department won’t be back where it was two years ago even if this tenure incident had never occurred.” Some predict that Tech will become a training school for other universities, where worthwhile faculty will depart as soon as a position opens at a college with a standard tenure policy. The best students will follow them there. Inasmuch as faculty quality directly affects their education and the value of their degrees, students have the most to lose. “I think we’re seeing that in EE, and I’m sure we’re seeing it or will be seeing it in other areas,” Elbow says. Even proficient professors who want to stay .might be driven out anyway. Centralizing tenure-granting power in upper levels reduces the influence of the best qualified judges other professors in the candidate’s field. Too, the absence of standards opens the door to covert racial, sexual, and other invidious discrimination. The result: faculty will no longer be judged upon their intellectual honesty and performance but on their ability to accommodate administrators’ prevailing notions no matter how wrongheaded. This may in fact be what Cavazos wants; if he succeeds in disposing of present faculty, he can hire new professors more in line with his thinking, who command lower salaries, and who are unlikely to raise a ruckus over the tenure policy or anything else. Overall, the absence of job security and merit evaluation places Tech with few natural attractions, isolated, and relatively low on the national pay scale at an even greater competitive disadvantage relative both to other schools and to the private sector. Unable to reach the current regime, faculty members are writing Governor Mark White to ask him to appoint more academically-oriented regents. The terms of three regents expired in January. Meanwhile, the administration digs in, professors type resumes, and a mood of sullen disillusionment settles over the campus like the ever-present West Texas dust. Talk of paring down state support for Texas universities has further discouraged some faculty members. Shortly, the spring winds will begin to sweep away the best faculty and students, taking with them the bright promise of a University that had so recently seemed ready to enter the ranks of Texas’ best. Soon, it will be quiet enough for Lauro Cavazos. William Bennett, as a grad student, was a protege of John Silber at UT and later served as Silber’s assistant at Boston University. Pat Aufderheide has analyzed Bennett’s tenure as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to see what his future as Education Secretary may hold. Ed. Washington, D. C. T 4 4 he greatest advances in the humanities have already been made” pronounces William Bennett, head of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Educationdesignate. Bennett’s confirmation hearing on January 28 before a committee whose membership includes Republicans Orrin Hatch, John East, Paula Hawkins and Jeremiah Denton, ran without a hitch. As head of the Department of Education, Bennett will have a $17.9 billion budget and 5,000 staffers. His actions could affect 60 million students. Pat Aufderheide is a freelance writer living in Washington, D. C. , and culture editor for In These Times. In his three-year tenure at the Endowment, Bennett radically refocused the $132 million agency \(staffed by 240 for funding projects as diverse as the traveling King Tut exhibit, the films Heartland and Rosie the Riveter, and town-hall-type meetings on public issues during the Bicentennial. Over the years, the agency has been a spark to make the humanities part of working people’s lives, not just a classroom subject. And it has funded academic innovation, especially in programs for minorities and women. Bennett, however, cut experimental and public programs, boosting the emphasis on academic programs and trimming the overall budget. His rubric for the new era was “excellence in education.” The shift was so dramatic that a report accompanying the 1984 House appropriations bill noted that, while improving education is desirable, “it is not the principal responsibility of the Endowment,” which should recognize that “improvement of humanities the quality of life occurs outside of the classrooms also.” Putting teeth in its criticisms, the report recommended shifting funds back into public pro grams. But Bennett is not a man to be balked by a simple run-in with Congress. He is used to it, having asked for lower funding levels every year for the NEH. He claims to champion old-fashioned values of scholarship in a period when the humanities have been “shattered” by a professoriate beset by liberal guilt and by administrators bowing to special interests, such as feminists studying women’s history and labor unions producing plays for workers. Bennett says it is high time to return the humanities to the perspective of the ancient Greeks, who knew that “the most important thing is to live well and to die with honor. What does it mean to live well? “Not to betray your friends, your God or your country,” as he expressed it succinctly to me. Or, as he phrased it to academic administrators recently, it is to find answers to the fundamental questions: “Who am I? What’s it all about? What do I owe my country? What is courage? What is friendship?” But recent revelations put in doubt whether Bennett has in fact been a good student. In 1980, Bennett had argued in the Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Leadership that the NEH should narrow its focus and streamline its operations. Under his direction, however, the refocusing and streamlining had a peculiarly personalist orientation. The results may be less a restructuring of the NEH than a gutting of it. In his first year at NEH, Bennett returned nearly a million dollars rather than spend it on public projects. Meanwhile, he used his own public affairs New Education Secretary Mr. Bennett’s Humanities By Pat Aufderheide THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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