The End of Summer(s)

At LawCulture, Peter Brooks, who taught at Yale during Benno Schmidt’s tenure and who now teaches at Virginia, has the following observation regarding the resignation of Lawrence Summers: “Without having any real insider information, I suspect the Summers story is an instructive instance of what may lie ahead in many universities, as academic culture encounters an increasing insistence on governance on the corporate model.” I wonder about that. Rick Levin, who succeeded Benno Schmidt at Yale and took office as president in 1993, has (together with the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board) adopted what may fairly be called a “corporate model” of governance. Levin has adopted a clear strategic vision for the university, he’s identified and appointed strong managers, and he’s held them accountable for results. Though not always without debate and controversy, Yale has thrived over the last decade. Several of those managers have gone on to become CEOs (I mean, presidents) of other universities — including MIT, UPenn, Duke, and Cambridge. Levin has his detractors, but generally he is all but canonized in New Haven, and the Yale Corporation, I assume, has every intention of ensuring that he sticks around for a long, long time. So, personally, though possessed of no more insider information than Peter Brooks, I doubt that Larry Summers ran into trouble because the academy and the “corporate model” don’t mix.

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