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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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27. Then and Now: The Relationship Between the College and the Student (Mark Bauman)

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27.  Then and Now: The Relationship Between the College and the Student

MARK BAUMAN

Over the last several years the idea of student affairs as synonymous with, or at least informed by, a customer service philosophy has crept into the profession. As evidence, a quick search on higher education employment sites reveals the phrase “customer service” woven into some job descriptions and, at times, included in the actual position title. A “student affairs specialist,” for example, was required to have a high level of customer service skills; similarly, quality customer service was expected of a “retention and student success” professional; and an “assistant dean for student development” had as its first bulleted requirement under knowledge, skills, and abilities a knowledge of customer service techniques. These examples, representing only three of many, suggest at least a preliminary movement away from the profession’s core—that is, from its history of emphasizing the learning, development, and growth of the whole student, toward one that is focused on customer service, transactions, and commodities. If students are treated like customers the logical outcome is the creation of a consumer-oriented mindset—one complete with a sense of entitlement as the customer.

This movement toward customer service, and the subsequent entitled expectations that can befall students, is further evidenced by the case of Trina Thompson. Thompson earned her associates and then bachelors degree at Monroe College, studying information technology (Kessler, 2009). Thompson, assisted by personnel...

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