In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
From yesterday's New York Times article about the faculty at the New School passing a vote of no confidence in their President, former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, who has churned through four chief academic officers in seven years:
Like Mr. Summers, who is now President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be chief White House economic adviser, Mr. Kerrey was recruited in part for his star power and management acumen. And like Mr. Summers, he has often found university politics more difficult to navigate than electoral politics.
I liked that. Earning a purple heart in Vietnam, getting elected governor, dating Debra Winger, doing two terms in the U.S. Senate, and reaching the point of being shortlisted as a Vice Presidential candidate? No problem! But academic administration? Now that's a challenge!
For reasons I still don't understand, people from outside academia often fail to understand that the culture of academia is fundamentally different. Better in some ways, worse in others, but markedly different. That's not to deny that it needs to change in some fairly fundamental ways, but those changes will have to be facilitated by people who understand where it's starting.
The guy was briefly among the dozen or so people most often mentioned as possibly running the country someday, and he can't even run a university.
If he's looking for work, I hear that Illinois needs a governor...