The year was 1961. Then President and former General of the Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower, addressing a nation about to embark upon a journey toward a new frontier, warned Americans to beware the military industrial complex, an interlocking directorate, fueled by blind ambition and unfettered arrogance.

"We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method," said Eisenhower, referring, of course, to Communism. Our response, he postulated, must be balanced. "...each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future."

"...we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions," Eisenhower said. "We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations... we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Prophetic, indeed.

Today, while we continue to debate both dangers and costs of the well-established military industrial complex -- as well as the dangers and costs of curtailing same through sequestration -- a new "hostile ideology" has given rise to a different, yet no less dangerous threat to our liberties and our very future as a free nation. The collegiate industrial complex. Global in scope. Ruthless in purpose. Insidious in method.

Not only has the reach of our colleges and universities extended far beyond the campus -- into real estate development and global expansion -- but it has created, through its tangled entrails, a cottage -- no, McMansion -- industry, into which billions of dollars spew annually, a burden borne chiefly on the backs, and out of the pockets, of those who can least afford it.

Ever wonder why colleges charge upwards of $50,000 in tuition? Well, it costs a pretty penny to buy up all of the real estate in lower Manhattan and to maintain campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. And when they pay college presidents and athletic directors more than the president of the United States, is it any wonder that tuition is out of control?

Add to the mix the burgeoning reach into the wallets of students and parents alike by entities so intertwined with the collegiate industrial complex -- from College Board to Common App, Kaplan to Princeton Review -- and is it really so hard to fathom that student debt now tops $1 trillion?

A recent piece in the Village Voice, Planet NYU: How The School's Global Ambitions Triggered a Revolt From Within, provides an eye-opening overview of just a few of the factors that contribute to the exorbitant costs of higher education, and to the growing dismay of many, inside the arena and out, of what can only be characterized as unbridled ambition and unmitigated gall. 

Citing the work of Davarian Baldwin, a historian and social theorist at Trinity College whose forthcoming book is entitled UniverCities: How Higher Education is Transforming the Urban Landscape, the article reads, "NYU and Columbia are the second- and third-largest land-owners in the city. In Los Angeles, USC is growing. In Philadelphia, UPenn. In Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. Harvard has huge expansion plans in Allston, having bought the land under a pseudonym. The University of Chicago has the third-largest police force in Illinois." 

And to think, all of these universities are so-called "not-for-profits." Imagine if they were in this business to make money?

Billions of dollars spent and projected to buy up prime real estate. Less than one thin dime, comparatively, to fund the very basics of students' education.

Eisenhower called it correctly. And he could well have been talking about the mindset of university administrators in the 2000s as he was the corporate and military hawks of the 1960s, when he admonished, "We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society."

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer. 

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . . 

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