No academic recession, alas
In spite of the current economic downturn, there does not appear to be an academic recession on the horizon. And we certainly need one. An academic recession is a decline for two consecutive quarters in the production of adjectives and adverbs in higher education. Academicians, although they rail at falling SAT scores and the garbled syntax of politicians, display their thoughts in mounds of words.
Even in classified advertising for faculty and administrative positions, academicians evidence overkill. ''The Systemwide planning function,'' reads one ad, ''is to be carried out as a collegial function, working through the Board of Regents council structure, so that the Regents, in adopting any plan, can be assured that broad participation and collaborative effort has gone into any approval.''
Then there are the ads awash in literary silt:
''Dynamic and energetic leader who is skilled in interpersonal relationships with all internal and external constituencies'';
''The ideal candidate will bring to this rewarding position. . . .'';
''A strong commitment to graduate as well as undergraduate education'';
''Excellent oral and written verbal skills.''
The catch phrase makers dominate some ads in calling for ''deep understanding ,'' ''forward-thinking leadership,'' ''strong management skills,'' and ''high ability.'' As opposed to puff-in-advertising, other classified lines are characterized by obfuscation:
''The University . . . is searching for a Dean who will serve as the Director. . . .'';
''Direct and teach in a severely handicapped graduate teacher preparation program'';
''The appointment will be for one year and is not renewable. However, the appointed Fellow may apply for a . . . Fellowship for 1983-84 in the manner to be prescribed for all applicants for that year.''
And then there are the ads that go from the nitty-gritty to unction: ''Among the qualifications required are (1) proficiency in teaching undergraduate college students and (2) a profound understanding of and serious concern with the problems of the relationship of law, liberty and justice.''
An academic recession must be imposed by high-interest editors of books, journals, and newspapers in which scholars publish their wares. Because if word inflation continues, we'll bequeath to our heirs a national literary debt so weighty as to stifle initiative. Words won't be worth a tinker's dam. Gobbledygook will prevail. And that's the undeniable, irrefutable, incontrovertible truth.