Roy Poses at Health Care Renewal has been tracking an issue that has come to bother me as well–the increasing corporatization of the university. I’ve noted it in the context of the idea of CEO-style university presidents and the conflicts of interest that arise with business leaders (and especially investment bankers) serving as university trustees.
But I am also concerned about the potential problems that could develop that run the other way–the increasing trend of university presidents serving on corporate boards and the possible conflicts of interest that arise from those relationships.
Roy’s particular interest has been the potential conflicts of interest that arise between universities with major medical centers and hospitals, health products companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the like. His latest is a long post on Mary Sue Coleman, the President of the University of Michigan, who also serves on the board of Johnson & Johnson. You can read it here. He has previously posted extensively on the relationships between elite university presidents and Wall Street, which are well worth a read.
I’ve not made up my mind on all of these issues myself or what to do about it. What I have become more aware of is how extensive these ties have become and how potentially corrupting they can be to universities and university governance.