Powerful social groups have long relied on the prominent status associated with institutions to reinforce social norms and traditions. Institutions specifically within the economy, government, and academic fields are viewed by the public with high levels of trustworthiness due to the endless number of social welfare related mission statements. Unfortunately, instead elite decision makers within these respective fields have actively and passively created knowledge that perpetuates unjust power relations that further social inequalities. The prestige of private higher-education institutions has specifically been used by powerful leaders as a mechanism in service to the generation of heteronormative – male, and euro-centric narratives. An example provided by the readings has been the case study of the highly regarded Harvard University, which has educated world renowned business, military, and political leaders (e.g. M.Bloomberg, M. Zuckerberg, etc.).
Top tier one research institutions such as Harvard University have been able to amass large endowments from their world-famous alumni and benefactors. The incorporation of donor endowment money into higher-ed business models has led to the special consideration of “legacy” applicants into admission criteria’s across America. This has not only ensured that wealthy white males have been accepted into top tier universities for a hundred years but has also created a homogeneous faculty and administration within the higher-education landscape. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics “76 percent of all college and university faculty members were white” in 2019. My very own research text Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches just so happens to be written by the male father son duo J. David Creswell and John W. Creswell. This is just an anecdotal example of how high-ed keep it in the family.
It will take years of aggressive diversity, equity, and inclusion policies in order to deal with the long-term effects of historically guaranteeing elite groups access to the highest levels of education. Educational fund-raising policies pertaining to private donors, gifting, and endowments need to be analyzed to determine additional governmental safe-guards. It’s also necessary to directly address the financial gaps that fund raising monies are being used for to ensure that gaps in resources between public and private institutions aren’t further widened.
Thank you Dennis for your thought-provoking post. I like your point, “The prestige of private higher-education institutions has specifically been used by powerful leaders as a mechanism in service to the generation of heteronormative.” We may discuss this issues in our discussion tomorrow:)
I like your anecdote about your father/son research textbook. There’s some staggering data about the family backgrounds of recent PhDs. The passage below is from Lynn Arner’s essay, “Working-Class Women at the MLA Interview” (http://www.rhizomes.net/issue27/arner.html):
“According to the federal National Science Foundation’s 2012 Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), advanced degrees were held by 39.5% of the fathers and 29.4% of the mothers of new PhD recipients who were either American citizens or permanent residents. Irrespective of nationality, recipients of American PhDs in the Humanities had the highest proportion of parents, of both sexes, with advanced degrees: 43.4% of the fathers and 30.5% of the mothers possessed such credentials, while 21.8% of the fathers and 26.7% of the mothers of PhD recipients in the Humanities possessed only high school educations or less.  These statistics confirm Lipset and Ladd’s understanding that academics are the offspring of a disproportionately well-educated group of parents compared to the general population.  These statistics also indicate that not only are the middle classes (and higher) strongly represented among PhD recipients but that the Humanities produced an unusually high concentration of professors from such households compared to any other academic division.”
Wow—thanks for sharing that excerpt, Matt, and thank you Dennis for the reflection. This connects with Eve’s photo essay as well. It’s stark to see the numbers.