“Say goodbye to Mr. Chips with his tattered tweed jacket; today’s senior professors can afford Marc Jacobs.” Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It.
I share many of the concerns expressed in Christopher Shea’s Sunday NYT book review essay, The End of Tenure. About the higher education pricing bubble, the collapse of the university as a vehicle for teaching writing and thinking, about the intellectual collapse of the humanities, etc.
I also share the concerns about tenure as an economic construct of lifetime sinecure. That said, and one of these days I’ll blog about it for real, I think deeply that conservative and libertarian professors who downplay the protection that tenure offers for unpopular political opinion … umm. I think that the dismantling of tenure would have a rippling cascade of very bad unintended consequences for diversity of political opinion, even such as it is, in the university. But I sidetrack myself and do intend to leave that for another time.
Shea mentions, in passing, the above-quoted aside in the book under review. Now let me say that I didn’t know who or what Marc Jacobs is, until I went to the link above, but I did recall it somewhere. And behold, in my closet, a suit that dates back to the 1980s and my days of law practice, not teaching, but almost certainly not bought at retail, though it predates ebay, a suit by one Marc Jacobs. Out of style, certainly, crossed garters and all, but a rather handsome suit.
(ps. I sound too defensive there. Meaning, I think that professors, including me, would do well to dress up more than we do for classes. I don’t think the problem of professors, including extremely well compensated ones at super elite schools, is so much one of Marc Jacobs so much as it is Tom Wolfe’s complaints about superannuated middle aged male professors dressing as though undergraduates or teenagers or five year olds. Cf. Althouse on the topic of men in shorts. I include myself as one of the culprits. My students would be very pleased to think that I took them seriously enough to dress up in a Marc Jacobs suit for class, and even more if they thought I had expended real funds to buy it full price, not on ebay, as a mark of respect for them. Would it persuade them to read any more thoroughly for class or do less texting and web surfing? That, I do not know.)