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some grail of ambition

Whatever they might have been earlier in their careers (in most cases, highly distinguished professors), these people are no longer really educators, scholars, or citizens of their communities. They are the hired agents of corporatized governing boards, moving from one university to another in search of some grail of ambition. It’s not uncommon for presidents and chancellors to have held senior administrative positions at three, four, or five institutions. As far as I can tell, the four leaders mentioned above have had, among the lot of them, senior administrative roles at 14 universities in the U.S. and Canada. (Spanier’s 16 years as president of Penn State was a long tenure, but it was his fourth high-level administrative job.) Having been everywhere, in another sense these people belong nowhere. They have been hired for certain things at which they excel: fundraising, cultivating outside constituencies, dreaming up new names for declining fortunes (this Partnership or that Compact), and remaking the “brands” of their campuses.

– Prof. Roland Greene, “The Silence of the Presidents,” on the recent police brutality and lack of administrative response at UC Davis

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