Situating Wannabe U

Gaye Tuchman

in Wannabe U

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226815299
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226815282 | DOI:
Situating Wannabe U

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Although one can find spurts of institutional ambition throughout its official history, Wannabe University was a “Johnny-come-lately” to the “reputational arms race,” the battle for national and international recognition. In many ways, it is typical of an ambitious American public research university. Some changes have emerged in research universities, as they have immersed themselves in the audit culture and accountability regime that are coming to dominate many American institutions. This chapter situates Wannabe geographically and historically, and also in the context of contemporary American higher education. It records the changes that helped situate Wannabe, such as declining support from legislatures coupled with increasing legislative interest in higher education as preparation for the workforce; an increased emphasis on research that could be transformed into a revenue stream; an emphasis on pleasing customers (undergraduates and their parents); reviews of departments to improve “quality” (or at least ranking in a discipline); an increase in the number of full-time professional staff per full-time faculty; and an increase in part-time instructors. The University also suffered a bad case of “middle-status conformity” as it sought to institute “best practices” that would increase the “three e's” associated with an audit culture: economy, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Keywords: recognition; public research university; audit culture; corporate administrators; measurable successes; Wannabe University; accountability regime

Chapter.  9979 words. 

Subjects: Higher and Further Education

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