The Restructuring of the University System

William Plank
Foreign Languages & Literature

The grizzly bear and the polar bear were the same species at the end of the last ice age. Even today they can be bred together in zoos. In the Galapagos, fourteen species of Darwin's finches have evolved in 5,000,000 years from a single species. Forty species of honeycreeper, evolved from a single ancestral species, were present in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain Cook arrived in 1778. Modern biologists know that it is impossible to give an absolute definition of a species, that the reality of biological evolution is change. Nietzsche knew and quantum physicists suspect that reality is flux and that the creating of data is an arresting of the flux which by necessity falsifies reality. A single configuration of one of Manfred Eigen's glassbead games cannot describe the reality of the game, which is change and relation, as any decent man knows who has read his Laws of the Game. These data are therefore illusions created by the Kantian Anschauungen and their massive baggage. Heraclitus was largely right. Plato was certainly wrong.

Institutions are organisms, too, and the Montana University System is an organism, a glassbead game in its latest configuration. Whether in its present bifurcation it will thrive in the peculiar Montana environment we will have to see--whether it will educate the public and encourage scholarship or go the way of the two-headed calf in its glass case in the New Atlas Bar in Columbus, Montana.

A year from this coming July the new Montana University System will be a year old. At that time The Montana Professor will publish a special section evaluating the reorganization. In the interim, we encourage the professoriate to keep notes. Has the reorganization served the student and the taxpayer? Has it preserved programs that students need and that serve higher education? Is our reputation any better for it? Has it encouraged and facilitated faculty scholarly production? Has it streamlined the administration? Has it gained the confidence of the public and the legislature? How has the relation of the instructional budget to the non-instructional budget changed?

Eigen's glassbead games evolve in directions affected by the rules of the game. Sometimes they produce cyclical configurations. Sometimes they are catastrophes. It all depends on the rules of the game.

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