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What's the Matter With College? When Ronald Reagan ran against Pat Brown in 1966 for the governorship of California, the defining subject was school. Governor Brown was finishing the biggest college expansion in trendy history - nine new campuses. California's schools and universities had been instrumental in turning the nation's biggest state into the world's seventh-greatest economic system and a world cultural mecca - they usually formed the guts, Brown presumed, of his re-election attraction.

Ronald Reagan's advisers agreed and sought to neutralize the higher-ed difficulty by having the actor announce his candidacy flanked by two Nobel Prize winners. Reagan had different ideas. For months he instructed marketing campaign-trail audiences horror stories about the constructing takeovers, antiwar demonstrations and sexual orgies ''so vile that I can not describe it to you'' at Berkeley, the College of California's flagship campus. Reagan's advisers warned him that disparaging the jewel of California civilization was political suicide. The candidate snapped again, ''Look, I do not care if I am within the mountains, the desert, the largest cities of this state, the primary query: 'What are you going to do about Berkeley?

It's unimaginable now that a gubernatorial race within the nation's largest state would come right down to a debate about what was occurring on campus. However it seemed perfectly natural then. The nation was obsessive about college and school college students. It wasn't just the building takeovers and the technology gap; the obsession was properly in gear by the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

The fascination was rooted in reasons as contemporary as yesterday's op-ed pages: in an more and more data-based mostly economic system, good schools had been a social-mobility prerequisite, and between 1957 and 1967, the quantity of faculty college students doubled. Now, as then, everyone says higher education is more essential than ever to America's future. But fascinating enough to turn out to be a topic of national obsession? Controversial sufficient to fight a gubernatorial marketing campaign over?

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  7. Hardly. The children do have their very own conflict now, however not much of an antiwar movement, much less building takeovers. Faculty campuses seem to have misplaced their centrality. Why do school and school college students no longer lead the tradition? Why does student life not appear all that important? This is one answer: Faculty as America used to know it's coming to an end.

    Sunday, I trekked down to the neighborhood jazz jam session, where '60s continuities have been direct. The bass participant was a former Maoist, the drummer a former beatnik. Early in Might I had lunch with the beatnik, Doug Mitchell, who received his undergraduate degree in 1965 and then went to graduate faculty here and is now an editor on the College of Chicago Press. I suspect I bought in this university primarily as a result of I had a excessive-faculty buddy who got a pirated copy of Henry Miller's 'Tropic of Capricorn,''' he stated.

    I put that on my reading list. And the admissions counselor was totally astonished: 'How did you get this? It was really banned in 1960.'' He settled into an alienated suburban child's paradise. We had a social life that form of revolved around the dorm lounge, because that is where everybody hung out after midnight. And some individuals acquired method into it and didn't survive.

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