"You're dealing with intelligent and educated people. Why do

David Bakan (dbakan@yorku.ca)
Thu, 1 Jan 1998 12:00:27 -0500 (EST)


I was at a family gathering some years ago, chatting with my sister Selma's
husband, Ben, who was a pharmacist. In the course of the conversation he
asked me to tell him precisely how a professor spends his time when not in
classes. I gave him all the answers about having to study, keep up with the
literature, prepare lectures and assignments, and read student papers and
exams. I explained how it was expected of professors that they bring
research funds into the university, do research, write articles and books,
make presentations at professional conference and participate in
intellectual enterprises with professors from other institutions. To all of
this he nodded understandingly.

Then I began to explain how a university was a large and complicated
institution and therefore required a great deal of administration. I
explained how we had professional administrators who were not professors,
professors who were pulled out of normal professorial duties to be
administrators, and that every professor was expected to contribute time to
administration as well.

He interrupted by speech to say, "I don't understand. You're dealing with
intelligent and educated people. Why do you need so many administrators?"

Good question. What's the answer? Are the premises of his question, that
the people are intelligent and educated, and that intelligent and educated
people do not need a lot of administration, not valid?