Q: What Causes Professors to Think About the Business Model of Higher Education?

A:  When they send a child off to college.

I don’t know who first said that, but it’s true in my case.  Apologies for the light posting this summer; our daughter has been dropped off at Rice University (Baker College) as of Sunday, I’m back  in DC and blogging again.  I’ve talked in the past about the business model of higher ed, and have been thinking about it from the professor and parent perspective for obvious reasons and plan to write more about it here.

Meanwhile, I want to congratulate Rice University on a lovely and modest send-off to parents and matriculation of the new freshmen.  It was impressive without being extravagant or over the top.  President David Leebron, known to many of VC’s professorial readers as the former dean of Columbia Law School, gave a terrific talk to parents.  Returning home was bitter-sweet.  My Beloved Wife is taking this somewhat harder than I.  From my point of view, I’m not sharing a car anymore, and the World of Law Schools should know that as an official Empty Nester, I’m open to changes, moving, visits, etc., in a way that way that was not so while our kid was still in high school in DC.

The parents left notes for the kids as a way of easing Parental Trauma; I told our daughter, “If you’re very, very good and well-behaved, maybe these nice people will adopt you.”  Inside family joke; when she was three or four years old, I used to say this to her when I dropped her off for playdates; the mothers at the door were mildly nonplussed.

But I wrote her a more serious note where I told her I’d come round to believe she’d made the right decision.  I’m a professor, yes, and all things equal, I probably would have preferred that she take the school in the much, much colder climate next to a gigantic lake, where it seems like most of my friends in the law professor world have either attended as undergrads, law students, grad students, or professors.  But daughter stood her ground and said she wanted to have a foot in Texas.  I’m sure she made the right decision for her – even as a student who is not going into STEM [thanks Alert Reader] at Rice.  I recalled the closing lines of Huckleberry Finn, and quoted them to her in my note, because it seemed to me that for her, this is the great American adventure, the restlessness to break out of the mold of where one has been and what has always been expected:

But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead 
of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt 
me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there

Well, my darling daughter, carpe diem, and congratulations for a decision to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest.

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