MOVING TO FRONT FROM TWO DAYS AGO TO ENCOURAGE MORE MORE DISCUSSION
A graduate student in philosophy writes:
I recently was admitted to a PhD program in philosophy after completing an MA. This being the case, I'm, at most, four years removed from the job market. I've been following all of the recent craziness taking place in public university systems (i.e. the closing of the program in Nevada, the attack on public employees in WI, the email fiasco in MI, the Breitbart nonsense at UMSL, and, most recently, the Koch connection at FSU). The PhD program that I committed to is at a private research university though I received offers from three public institutions as well. My question is this: as a future professional philosopher, how big of a role, if any, should a school's affiliation with a state government play in one's decision to apply/accept a job and, to a lesser extent, a spot in a PhD program? It doesn't seem likely that these attacks (mostly from the right) are bound to stop any time soon, and it also seems unlikely that philosophers will be immune to this sort of thing. So, are private university jobs/PhD programs simply, all else equal, more desirable than jobs/programs at public universities, or am I just being reactionary?
I'll make two brief comments of my own, and then open this for discussion. First, there's no reason for anyone entering a PhD program in philosophy to think they will have much or any choice in the tenure-track job they accept. Second, I see no signs that the "neoliberal" dogma--roughly, private markets are to be preferred to public provision of services--that came to the fore with Reagan's reactionary revolution is abating in the U.S.; in most crucial respects, both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have remained committed to it, and the Republican Party (think of Paul Ryan) increasingly subscribes to an even more lunatic version. Given that neoliberal ideology is still the Geist of our time, I fear that public universities will continue to fare worse and worse relative to their private peers, as they have over the past 30 years. This may matter less in the choice of PhD programs. And there will, of course, continue to be exceptions, especially for those public universities, like Michigan, that increasingly adopt a private research university model or those, like Rutgers, that have unionized faculties. (The class war being waged by the plutocracy against collective bargaining rights bodes ill, however, for the latter cases.)
As usual, signed comments will be preferred.