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Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education Hardcover – October 1, 1988

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (October 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895265591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895265593
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles J. Sykes is senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and a talk show host at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has written forThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today and is the author of six previous books: A Nation of Victims, Dumbing Down Our Kids, Profscam, The Hollow Men, The End of Privacy, and 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School.

Customer Reviews

A good book at explaining the trends and pressures universities and professors experience.
J. head
National Review: "... an extraordinary book about higher education in America... The thrill of Mr. Sykes's book resides in its relentless specificity."
I know far too many professors who work too hard even to be bothered with studies like this.
Scot Mcknight

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read Profscam because I so enjoyed and agreed with two of Charles Sykes's other books: Dumbing Down Our Kids and A Nation Of Victims. However, I was bothered by the sweeping generalizations that he makes in Profscam. What most concerned me was his blanket statements about all faculty in higher education. Based on the examples/data he uses throughout his book he clearly is targeting the behavior of full professors in the top 10 "Research I" institutions, but then tries to generalize this behavior to all faculty members, of all ranks, at all (private and public) institutions of higher education. Although we've all heard of "hot shots" in various fields who teach little, make more than $100K/year, and have all of the perks associated with such positions, those individuals are the exception, not the norm. Salaries among educators are notoriously low. The average faculty member in higher education makes less money than the average lawyer, physician, or middle-level manager, even though the number of years spent in school in order to obtain his/her Ph.D. degree is higher than that for the other occupations. A disturbing comment Sykes makes is that faculty only work the 8-16 hours a week that they're in the classroom teaching. This is as distorted as believing that lawyers only work when they're in court or physicians only work while operating on someone. Perhaps the "hot shots" in Research I institutions teach the same courses using old notes or can obtain teaching waivers if they have important grants, as Sykes implies, but the average academic easily spends 50-70 hours/week on teaching, course preparation and grading, advising/mentoring, writing, research, and university committee and community work.Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Donald C. Wunsch II on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm a prof but was a student, when this book was written. I seldom had a class taught by a TA. When I did, it was excellent. I had close interactions with famous profs throughout my education. But Sykes's anecdotes are real stories during the same period as my education. Many of his observations, of how the academic game is played, are also true. The take-home message is: let the buyer beware. It's a gross error of the book to do a hatchet job on profs -- you can find good ones all over. But if you don't do your homework, you could spend megabucks on higher education and get ripped off. I'm thankful to have had the opposite experience. I started by choosing to attend Seattle University, where it was obvious they actually read my required essay from the application, unlike several top-ranked schools that had accepted me. From there, I was mostly lucky. It's still possible to get an excellent value for your higher education dollar. This book throws the baby out with the bath water, but it does tell you what to watch out for.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am currently finishing my masters degree and am researching doctoral degress. Unfortunately, I not only enjoyed this book, but recognized many things in it as so true that they were funny (and sad).
Point: Universities are much less concerned with teaching students as they are with plumping out research that is trivial, abstruse, and to all but maybe 10 peers who will read the resulting article, irrelevent (and those ten are reading it to cite it in the next essay). Point: The humanities have done away with virtually all standards, are interested in theory that poorly reflects the real world, and consist mostly of 'guts' courses that are called that because they are so easy one can pass the tests on gut instincts. Point: tenure is partially destroying education. Once designed as a bastion of academic freedom, now it serves to insulate already detached professors even more from the real world, and destroy any notion of accountability.
Here's the books downfall: it is so eager to point out these things (even though the book is for the most part right on) that it ends up sounding paranoid and overly combative. Every example of a poor professor is accompanied by an adjective like "assinine" or "abysmal". There was even one section where the author points out that "one study says..." in order to show how bad social science education is. I was left wondering....what the other studies said. In other words, the book leaves us with a feeling that while largely correct, the author may have been a.) selective and b.) a little overeager to rip on all things academic for the meer sake the it feels good.
But the main messages is that education is overpriced while quality declines.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
As former faculty member myself, I can appreciate Charles' views, as I saw a few colleagues provide little support for the students. This was not out of malice, but simply a realization that the system does not reward dedication to teaching and effective advising. For example, a colleague of mine got ripped in his student evaluations twice, so what does the department head do? He removes him from teaching undergraduate courses altogether, leaving him with two independent-study graduate courses. My colleague also got promoted the same year. What a deal! All this while I am teaching 30% above capacity and getting nothing but jealousy from a few of my colleagues. My research and publication output was not compromised (any more than others), but department politics were not kind to me. Later, I took a faculty position in the College of Engineering where students WERE first. So, problems vary with the culture of the department. The author does generalize a bit, but faculty should only be offended if he/she is the offender. All of us have seen instances of what Charles has described in academia. My advice to a new faculty member...if it smells bad, change the scenery, QUICK!
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