WMU News

Forum looks at conflicts in university-corporate ties

Nov. 3, 2004

KALAMAZOO--The relationship between international corporate culture and U.S. universities is the focus, when Western Michigan University's Emeriti Council presents a two-day forum on the topic Thursday and Friday, Nov. 11 and 12.

The ambitious effort also is sponsored by more than 20 University units. The event will include panels featuring WMU's top leadership as well as two nationally known presenters. The event in the Fetzer Center and Schneider Hall is free and open to the public. Sessions run from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. Friday.

According to Dr. Robert Kaufman, professor emeritus of political science and forum coordinator, discussions will examine the increasingly complex relationships between universities and corporations and cover such issues as commercialization of the university setting, human relations in higher education, and the rewards and risks of the entrepreneurial university.

Kaufman says the forum will examine a number of themes and issues. Those themes will be explored both as they impact higher education generally and, more specifically, how they play out at WMU.

"The American system of higher education will be compared with the European classical model for universities," Kaufman says, "and speakers will consider the contrasting goals of universities and corporations--namely, that while universities seek the common good, corporations seek private good. Those positions pose long-term questions of direction, ethics and philosophy for the university."

Guest speakers include Dr. Sam Hines, dean of the School of Humanities at the College of Charleston and a longtime board member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Dr. Eric Gould, chairperson of the Department of English at the University of Denver and author of "The University in a Corporate Culture."

University President Judith I. Bailey is scheduled to give an official welcome to those attending. Other WMU presenters will include: Dr. Jack Luderer, vice president for research; Dr. Ronald W. Davis, assistant provost and director of the Diether H. Haenicke Center for International and Area Studies; Laureen Summerville, director of Human Resources Services; Dr. Michael B. Atkins, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Dr. Jon Neill, professor of economics who will represent the perspective of WMU's chapter of the American Association of University Professors; and Dr. Howard J. Dooley, executive director of international affairs.

The focus of the 3 p.m. Thursday panel in the Fetzer Center's Kirsch Auditorium is "Evolving Human Relations in Higher Education." The panel, moderated by Dr. Thomas L.VanValey, chairperson of the Department of Sociology, will look at such topics as research choice, compensation, intellectual property, outsourcing and university human relations.

The 10 a.m. panel on Friday in Schneider Hall's Brown Auditorium will be moderated by Dr. James Butterfield, professor of political science and associate director of the Haenicke Center

and will focus on "Globalization and International Program in Higher Education." During the presentation, Gould will report on a European Union conference held last summer that focused on higher education development in European nations. Panelists will examine competition in international education, including problems generated by post-9/11 security concerns, and the challenges to students as they prepare for positions in a global work place.

The main session at 2 p.m. Friday, also in Brown Auditorium, will include a welcome from Bailey. The topic will be "Universities and Corporations" and panelists will look at the commercialization of higher education and the role of corporations and entrepreneurial partnerships at WMU. They also will discuss the cultural contradictions and ethical dilemmas growing out of university ties to corporations. Kaufman will moderate.

Hines will take part in the Thursday panel. Gould will participate in the Friday morning panel. The final Friday afternoon panel will feature both guest presenters.

For more information, contact Dr. Robert Kaufman at (269) 381-8607.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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