Category Archives: Soul of Academia

The Soul of the American University

This is the last book that I want to share about the thought of academia soul as been mentioned by Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman. This book was written by George M. Marsden in 1996.

Attached herewith is the link for this book:

The author explores on how and why the dramatic changes occurred. Today, once pervasive influence of religion in the intellectual and cultural life of America’s preeminent colleges and universities has all vanished.

This author investigates the role of Protestantism in the higher education. He tells the stories of many of our pace-setting universities at defining moments in their histories, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, and the University of California at Berkeley.

He recreates the religious feuds that accompanied Yale’s transition from a flagship evangelical college to a university, and the dramatic debate over the place of religion in the higher education.

The soul of the American University exemplifies what it advocates that religious perspectives can provide a legitimate contribution to the highest level of scholarship.

The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education

Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman shared a book that has the same thought on the soul of academia or university as been illustrated in the figure below. This book was published in 2008, written by Jennifer Washburn.

She opined that corporate funding of universities is growing and the money comes with strings attached. In return for this funding, universities and professors are acting more and more like for-profit patent factories whereby the university funds are shifting from the humanities and the less profitable science departments into research labs, and the skill of teaching is valued less and less.

Slowly, but surely, universities are abandoning their traditional role as disinterested sources of education, alternative perspectives, and wisdom.

This growing influence of corporations over universities affects more than just today’s college students (and their parents). It compromises the future of all those whose careers depend on a university education, and all those who will be employed,governed, or taught by the products of American universities.

The Struggle for the soul

Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman recommended another book who was written by Julius Getman entitled “In the Company of Scholars: The Struggle for the Soul of Higher Education.

Click this link to read more about this book:

The author probes the tensions between status and meaning, elitism and egalitarianism, that challenge the academy and academics today.

He shows how higher education creates a shared intellectual community among people of varied races and classes while simultaneously dividing people on the basis of education and status.

In the course of his explorations, he touches on many of the most current issues in the higher education including the conflict between teaching and research, challenges to academic freedom, the struggle over multiculturalism, and the impact of minority and feminist activism.

The Lost Soul

The above mentioned book was suggested by Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman. The author of this book, Ellen Schrecker argued that the American University is under attack from two directions. Besides, outside pressure groups have staged massive challenges to academic freedom.

She revealed a distinct pattern of concerted efforts to undermine the legitimacy of forms of scholarly study deemed to threaten the status quo.

At the same time, she deftly chronicled the erosion of university budgets and the encroachment of private-sector influence and business-friendly priorities into academic life.

From the dwindling numbers of full-time faculty to the collapse of library budgets, this book depicted a system increasingly beholden to corporate America and starved of the resources it needs to educate the new generation of citizens.

Restoring the soul

Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream (2018) argued that Christian universities can recover their soul but to do so require reimagining excellence in a time of exile, placing the liberating arts before the liberal arts, and focusing on the worship, love, and knowledge of God as central to the university.

In terms of money, prestige, power, and freedom, American universities appear to have gained the academic world. But at what cost? We live in the age of the fragmented multiversity that has no unifying soul or mission.

This book was also suggested by Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman

Excellence without a soul

Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman has shared a book as shown in the figure about what others have said about the soul of academia or university.

Harry R. Lewis wrote his book in 2006 entitled “Excellence without a soul: How a great university forgot education”.

He was a former Dean of Harvard College who was working for more than thirty years, argued that a school’s mission cannot be compromised at the mercy of consumerism and competition, driven decision-making regarding course content and grading.

He insisted that science (general education) and philosophy (values) cannot be separated or each will surely lose the potential depth of meaning. The synergy between religious faith and academic matters must be done for cohesive identity development as well. When the concept of integration is woven in the institutions, the quality implementation is harder to assess.

Soul of Higher Learning

Another book entitled “Revitalizing the Soul of Higher Learning” who was written by Zaini Ujang, our former Vice Chancellor that was published in 2013. This book was suggested by Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman.

The main important points including on what had transpired in UTM on the soul of academia as follows:

  1. strive and attempt to constantly enhance the levels of motivation, academic excellence, ability to implement, technical skills and management skills;
  2. do not expect too much short term rewards and interests. The best reward is an eternal one;
  3. have faith that the best contributions and good deeds are in the form of:                                                                                                                            (a) Specific good deeds: Tangible Key Amal Indicator (KAI) i.e. publications, research, Intellectual property, or                                     (b) General good deeds: Intangible KAI e.g. teamwork, knowledge culture, integrity, passion, entrepreneurship, etc;
  4. do not blow own trumpet following a success;
  5. look for ways and opportunities proactively to make contributions and offer the best services, instead of making excuses;
  6. use the KAI as an important instrument to steer individual activities to be in tandem; and
  7. KAI should not be misinterpreted or viewed from a quantitative angle, which led to performing daily tasks in a quantitative manner, being too calculative, forgetting spirits of volunteerism, solidarity, and sincerity, which cannot be equated in numerical indicators.

The Soul of A University

Let’s share a thought regarding on the soul of academia or university. I’m sharing a brief summary from a book written by Chris Brink, published on July 24, 2018. This book was recommended by Prof. Dr. Azlan Ab. Rahman.

Here is the link for the above mentioned book:,+chris+brink&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi6kI2w_KfrAhUzzzgGHTiSBWwQ6AEwAHoECAQQAg#v=onepage&q=the%20soul%20of%20university%2C%20chris%20brink&f=false

This book is one of advocacy whereby it is a set of academic considerations based on the soul of a university. In a post-truth society, we need to keep up the search for truth and understanding, but we need to do so with a better insight of why we are doing it, and a clear commitment that academic excellence must respond to the challenges facing civil society.

In an age of global uncertainty and instability or known as fractured world, we are required to combat isolationism with the simple truth that your problem will no longer stop at my border, nor mine at yours. It is up to us to demonstrate that the world can still benefit from wandering scholars.