Another factor I would note here is an increase in the number of administrators who are hired externally, rather than promoted from within, at least in the category of institutions where you and (barely) I work. I think you're right that "such leaders seem more and more reluctant to call upon their own working histories to forge some form of connected empathy," but a big piece of that reluctance is probably due to their own working histories being at other institutions, with different norms and traditions. It can get kind of tiresome to hear "Well, at my former institution, the way we handled this was..." over and over again, in a way that undermines the empathy you would otherwise be able to generate from that history. My sense is that in the past it was much more common for people to rise through the ranks, as it were, without changing institutions, but more and more that's looked down upon, because it's more prestigious (in a "US News Academic Reputation" sort of sense) to hire a rising star from elsewhere than to promote one of your own. That acts to widen the gap between faculty and administration even more.

(Promoting from within doesn't completely avoid this problem, of course, but it probably helps at least a little bit...)

Expand full comment
Nov 4, 2021Liked by Timothy Burke

Word, Tim. I am leaving and will not be looking back, because this crisis seems to have opened the doors to a re-modeling of my liberal arts college that will rip away most of what I spent the past 27 years trying to build. You are too right about the anomie stalking academia, as well.I call my Durkheim as I see him.)

Expand full comment