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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Greed in the academe

/ 05:03 AM February 11, 2019

The academe — in whose hallowed halls students are taught the values of integrity, honesty and dignity of the human spirit — is no longer impervious to inordinate greed and wanton disregard for standards of scholastic excellence. I observed this trend even before I retired from my former academic post.

It is high time the Commission on Higher Education looked into this issue. This has not been discussed openly, honestly and with determination to impose sanctions on greedy charlatans
and snake oil salespersons in some universities in Mindanao.

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More than two years after my mandatory retirement, I am still seeing some academic leaders flaunting inordinate greed and false claims of being experts not only in one field of study, but in almost all fields of specialization. If this becomes the norm, then specialization in different fields of study will be pointless. Charlatans who claim to know and be proficient in all known fields of expertise will govern institutions of higher learning. Universities will no longer have colleges and departments; there will only be one academic field — the know-everything one.

For instance, one professor teaches theory and research in widely diverse fields — public administration, sustainable development, business management and education. He also taught social statistics — to the consternation of university statistics professors. At one time, he led an extension project on organic farming and goat raising, and wrote a manual on how to culture mushrooms. But he never had training in agriculture — he is a faculty member originally belonging to the English and humanities department.

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I certainly do not begrudge straightforward professors who shifted gears to become experts in fields totally unrelated to their first major specialization. But they undertook long periods of studying and training in their new fields of expertise. They did not become experts in another field after a one-day training or seminar-workshop. Johan Galtung, the famous Norwegian founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies used to be a mathematician (PhD in Math in 1956), before earning a PhD in Sociology the following year.

For sure, culturing mushrooms is no rocket science and anyone can learn how to do it, especially in the age of Google.com. “Professors” Google and Wikipedia have made many academic fakes become overnight experts in almost any field outside their areas of competence. Indeed, cyberspace has provided learning platforms for indolent and greedy operators in the academe — students, professors and administrators alike.

Greed in the academe is also seen in how administrators cling to their temporary designations like leeches to their hosts. They use all conceivable wily ways so their new superior will not
remove or replace them. But it is not the prestige that such designation brings that makes them cling to it like mad. They are after their share of “administrative cost”—actually shaved-off percentage (at least 7.5 percent) of research funds for their own (administrators’) pockets. This is the “new meaning” of “administrative cost.”

These administrators argue that research activities will stop once they are removed or replaced. This is greed expressed deceivingly as a concern for continuity. It is a devious way of saying they need to continue receiving their share of shaved-off research funds to fill their already fat pockets from years of receiving “clean money” (in Cebuano-Visayan, “dawat limpyo”).

Fakery, flamboyance, indolence and affectation will not lead to academic excellence. But erudition, hard work, dedication and commitment to scientific rigor and intellectual honesty will.

Any academic institution can have excellence written all over it if it puts the charlatans and greedy operators in their “proper” places; not in fields they are not experts of.

Comments to rcguiam@gmail.com

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TAGS: academe, CHEd, Commission on Higher Education, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam
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