Films, panel discussion to explore ‘corporatization’ of higher education

November 4, 2009 | Arts, UToday
By Angela Riddel

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will conclude its documentary film series this fall with two works that bring into question how corporate practices impact the moral and social responsibilities of higher education Friday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Law Center Auditorium.



Kyle Henry’s “University Inc.” and Laura Dunn’s “Subtext of a Yale Education” will be followed by a panel discussion that will address how UT’s idealistic and community-minded mission of improving the human condition both meshes and collides with its fiduciary duties and its societal responsibilities. Henry, a filmmaker in residence at UT this semester, will lead the panel discussion.

Henry, professor of editing at the University of Texas in Austin, will present his film. He and Dunn take an intimate look at how their educations were altered by today’s dominant financial ideology of intense competition and bottom line profits.

“University Inc.,” released in 1999, is an hourlong documentary that, according to The Austin Chronicle, “… uses the closing of the University of Texas’ Union Film Program as a paradigm for exposing the true corporate order. The film exposes the dominance of big business over education, student power and workers’ rights.”

Henry’s “University Inc.” and “American Cowboy,” a film about a gay rodeo champ, received worldwide festival play, with the former touring more than 50 colleges and universities throughout the United States as part of an initiative titled “The McCollege Tour,” funded in part by filmmakers Michael Moore and Richard Linklater. His feature narrative directing debut, “Room,” premiered at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals in 2005, and was nominated for two Find Independent Spirit Awards. He is also the editor of the Sundance/Tribeca/SXSW award-winning feature narrative titled “Manito” and seven documentary features, including “Audience of One,” “Light From the East” and the PBS/ITVS-funded “Troop 1500, Letters From the Other Side,” and the soon-to-be-broadcast “Where Soldiers Come From.”

His in-progress feature film, “Fourplay,” is executive produced by Jim McKay and Michael Stipe via their C-Hundred Film Corp. production company and will premiere in 2010.



“Subtext of a Yale Education,” a 31-minute short released in 1998, documents, from the filmmaker’s perspective, Locals 34 and 35 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union and their struggle from 1995 to 1997 to secure a new contract and defeat subcontracting within Yale University’s food services. According to Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, “In the film, an unidentified national union organizer states his disbelief that anyone would expect corporations to behave any differently than they do. ‘They are supposed to be greedy,’ he says. Corporations are legally bound to make a profit for their shareholders. The university must behave as it does not because it is immoral or unethical, but because it is an elite, private capitalist corporation.”

Dunn’s film won best documentary at the 1999 National Student Film Festival. She has numerous award-winning documentaries to her credit. Most recently, Dunn was awarded a Rockefeller Media Fellowship for “Mai Mayim,” a documentary that looks at the Middle East conflict from within the context of the ecological need for water in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Both the screenings and discussion are free; however, a $3 donation per person is requested to defray costs and help support future film screenings.

For more information, visit the UT Department of Theatre and Film online at

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