Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, Truthout
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Penn State and Nebraska during a prayer before their game at Beaver Stadium, in State College, Pennsylvania, November 12, 2011. (Photo: Chang W. Lee / New York Times)
Too many universities are now beholden to big business, big sports and big military contracts. And it is within this new set of contexts that we must read the Penn State scandal. Much media attention has been drawn to the fact that Penn State pulls in tens of millions of dollars in football revenue, but nothing has been said of the fact that it also receives millions from Defense Department contracts and grants, ranking sixth among universities and colleges receiving funds for military research.(1) Or that as a result of considerable influence by corporate interests, the academic mission of the university is now less determined by internal criteria established by faculty researchers with the knowledge expertise and a commitment to the public good than by external market forces concerned with achieving fiscal stability and, if possible, increasing profit margins. The excesses to which such practices have given rise have proven obscene to the point of the pornographic. One has only to look closely at the unfolding tragedy at Penn State University to understand the potentially catastrophic consequences of this decades-long transformation in higher education for universities more generally.
Special Report | The Shame of College Sports: December 18, 2011, David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest