In his March 15 column, Ron Bancroft writes that he is concerned that higher education is not “delivering the results society needs.” That’s commendable but ironic, since many of the trends he objects to are in part the result of treating higher ed as a business — which he advocates almost everywhere else.

In 2011, the expansion of the business model in higher education means that well over 50 percent of American university and college teachers are contingent faculty. Their situation would warm any independent strategy consultant’s heart: little job security and access to health care, low wages, and often the necessity to work at multiple schools to make ends meet. They are the perfect labor pool in a penny-pinching, agile business model, as advocated by Press Herald columnists Ron Bancroft, Charles Lawton and Tony Payne. But if these people are treated only like cheap labor, what incentive do they have to solve society’s problems for Mr. Bancroft?

Take grade inflation. Contingent faculty are vulnerable to student evaluations, which are central to rehiring decisions. There’s plenty of evidence that easy graders get better evaluations, so why not ease up on grading, especially if a teacher is maxed-out at multiple jobs to make ends meet?

Add in the consumerist mentality of many students, who quite accurately detect when schools are being run like businesses and who are thus even more willing to trade tuition payments for good grades. Ivy League schools have tended to have higher grade inflation, better grades for more money — now there’s consumer choice at work!

It’s great that Mr. Bancroft sees a social role for higher education beyond the business model. Perhaps he should explicitly acknowledge that, and extend those conclusions to some of the other topics he writes about.