Based on years of observation at a large state university, Wannabe U tracks the dispiriting consequences of trading in traditional educational values for loyalty to the market. Aping their boardroom idols, the new corporate administrators at such universities wander from job to job and reductively view the students there as future workers in need of training. Obsessed with measurable successes, they stress auditing and accountability, which leads to policies of surveillance and control dubiously cloaked in the guise of scientific administration. In this eye-opening exposé of the modern university, Tuchman paints a candid portrait of the corporatization of higher education and its impact on students and faculty.
Like the best campus novelists, Tuchman entertains with her acidly witty observations of backstage power dynamics and faculty politics, but ultimately Wannabe U is a hard-hitting account of how higher education’s misguided pursuit of success fails us all.