Watson Institute at Brown University
Stone Inequality Initiative

Charlie Eaton ─ Bankers in the Ivory Tower: The Troubling Rise of Financiers in US Higher Education

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

4:00pm – 6:00pm

Register here to join the webinar or watch live on Watson's YouTube channel.

Join us for a discussion of the new book Bankers in the Ivory Tower: The Troubling Rise of Financiers in US Higher Education, with author Charlie Eaton, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced.

With federal and state funding falling short, the US higher education system has become increasingly dependent on financial markets and the financiers that mediate them. Beginning in the 1980s, the government, colleges, students, and their families took on multiple new roles as financial investors, borrowers, and brokers. The turn to finance, however, has yielded wildly unequal results. At the top, ties to Wall Street help the most elite private schools achieve the greatest endowment growth through hedge fund investments and the support of wealthy donors. At the bottom, takeovers by private equity transform for-profit colleges into predatory organizations that leave disadvantaged students with massive loan debt and few educational benefits. And in the middle, public universities are squeezed between incentives to increase tuition and pressures to maintain access and affordability. Eaton chronicles these transformations, making clear for the first time just how tight the links are between powerful financiers and America’s unequal system of higher education.


Charlie Eaton, Author and Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of California, Merced

Josh Pacewicz, Associate Professor, Sociology, Brown Univeristy

Margaret Weir, (moderator), Political Science and International and Public Affairs, Brown University

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