“Many of our, if I can put it this way, businesses are in good shape. We’re doing very well there. Our hospitals are full, our medical business, our medical research, the patient care. So, we have this core problem: Who is going to pay the salary of the English department? We have to have it. Who’s going to pay it in sociology, in the humanities? And that’s where we’re running into trouble.”
Mark G. Yudof, President, University of California
Intriguingly, one finds almost no information on the net about the UC Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense, except the now-vanished page recounting its foundation back in 2002, preserved at archive.org, and a mention of its continuing existence by the National Nanotechnology Initiative — which is one of the many federal centers coordinating the development of so-called “dual-use” technologies with civilian and military applications. Maybe I’m paranoid, or maybe just anti-militarist, but whenever I look into the ways that higher education in the United States is being transformed into a functional innovation system for those profitable businesses that Yudof talks about, it’s the Defense Department funding that catches my eye.
A few years ago I wrote an article on flexibilization, corporatization and militarization in the universities of North Carolina’s Research Triangle. What the investigation revealed was an education system that had become the perfect lamp and mirror of neoliberal management. When Bob Samuels remarks, in a very succinct and useful article, that “research universities like UCLA now spend less than 5% of their total budget on undergraduate instruction,” the questions worth asking are: Where does the rest of the money go, and where does it actually come from in the first place? Why are the administrators so keen to drastically reduce the size of English and Sociology departments? What kind of research is being supported by students’ overpriced tuition? And how did formerly public universities reach the point where their agenda is set by a corporate accountant’s logic grafted onto the priorities of the national security state?
These are some of the questions that we’re going to raise at the upcoming Continental Drift sessions at the Public School in LA, on Feb 27-28, just in advance of the next UC walkout on March 4.
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–> For more insights into the management of the UC business, consider these podcasts and articles on UC Regent Richard Blum — upstanding citizen, construction and real-estate magnate, owner of the $7 billion Blum Capital Partners private equity firm and husband of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Thanks to Daniel Tucker for sending the podcast: