The Minnow would be lost …

Higher education has sure resembled the SS Minnow lately.

Yes, higher education has been tossed about like a tugboat in choppy waters these past few weeks. Numerous stories in national publications have painted university professors as selfish, research-mad snobs. Colorado democrat Patty “Don’t Cry” Schroeder’s house committee on higher education has put heat on academic types this week in a big way.

However, both professors and the American public should put all of the hype in perspective. Bashing higher education just happens to be the media’s flavor-of-the-month. The story will fade into the back pages and out of the newspaper and things will go back to normal, just like every other trend the media exploits and then sucks dry.

One of the more humorous aspects of this hullabaloo is the use of statistics. Schroeder’s committee comes out with stats showing how evil professors are; professors shoot back reams of data showing that, gosh-darn-it, they do really care about students. It’s gotten to the point where one can generate statistics to prove just about any point imaginable.

Professors at Illinois public universities, however, do have cause for alarm. All of the negative press only will serve to reinforce Gov. Jim Edgar’s ideas about how state schools should be run. Edgar’s henchman, the well-spoken IBHE Chairman Arthur Quern, will have more ammunition in his fight to turn state higher education into a specialized trade-school arrangement, which is otherwise known as the Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative.

Hopefully, the professors will find a skipper to lead them so the Minnow won’t be lost.