The purpose of this paper is to challenge the commonsensical acceptance of commitments to excellence within postsecondary education and reveal their inherent neoliberal foundation. Because excellence appears neutral, natural, universal, and a legitimate educational goal, it obfuscates the embedded assumptions that undergird the material practices associated with performances of excellence. These assumptions include the quantification and commensurability of learning, teaching, and scholarship, the necessity of assessment and legitimation of accountability regimes, and the naturalness and universality of competition within postsecondary education. The acceptance of excellence as an organizing frame of the university has enabled much of the neoliberalization of postsecondary education, and as such, to resist the neoliberalization of postsecondary education, we much challenge its commitment to excellence.
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