Skip to main content

Wannabe U

Inside the Corporate University

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.


“Gaye Tuchman has managed to weave together both a cogent structural analysis of the corporatizing forces reshaping U.S. universities and a colorful ethnographic portrait of a single aspiring institution. She does this with wit and wisdom, highlighting many of the tensions and contradictions of a system where every unit strives and claims to be well above average.”

Troy Duster, New York University

“In a compelling case study of Wannabe University, Gaye Tuchman thoroughly traces the metamorphosis of a university. She lays bare the combination of a managerialism focused on chasing status and a logic of compliance among divided and complicit academics that results in a comformist, transformed university.”

Gary Rhoades, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors

“Tough, honest, highly entertaining. . . . It raises serious questions about the desirability of the shifts in policy and practice that have changed the landscape of the academy, yet it manages at the same time to be funny and entertaining. . . . This book raises important questions about what kind of higher education we want. Tuchman is passionately engaged, but never loses her sense of humour and leaves us with much to think about.”

Times Higher Education

"...a sharply observed dissection of the business-facing among us."

Times Higher Education

Table of Contents

1: Wannabe University Is Transformed

2: Situating Wannabe U

3: Conforming, Branding, and Research

4: Outsiders and the New Managerialism

5: The Politics of Centralization

6: Teaching, Learning, and Rating

7: Carrots, Sticks, and Accountability

8: Plans and Priorities

9: Making Professors Accountable

10: The Logic of Compliance





Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press