Friday, September 22, 2006

Tales of Success and Woe

Rob Knopp has a very worthwhile post concerning his fears of not getting tenure because of an inconsistent track record of getting external funding. Unfortunately, he follows it up with bad news from the NSF. He laments that us faculty can't be open and honest about such fears. The thing is, I worry that indeed his honesty will work against him.

Chad recently pointed out that the MacArthur Awards were announced. It's interesting looking at who gets them, but people may not have seen that recent Fields Medal winner Terrence Tao got one. Not a bad year for him, eh?

Speaking of Chad and Rob, are they both coming up for tenure at the same time? If they both do get it, are we going to have an online tenure party?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chad shouldn't care much about research, he is at small liberal arts college where teaching is the only thing that really counts. He might as well given up on his hopes of doing top-notch research, and I hope he knows it too. Not trying to be mean, just realistic. Rob's case is a bit more complicated and has more relevance for the rest of the community. The funding situation is really getting worse, despite "competitiveness initiative" and all that. So if Rob doesn't get tenure, it's bad news for all academics - apparently funding is a very high priority. It's good news for education, Wall Street - both might improve dramatically with all the postdocs who can't get a job and have to do something else for a change. Not good news for US overall, but good news for *elite* US. Is this how ancient Rome and other empires fallen? Phase-separation due to self-interest that is genetically encoded into humans?
Someone should research this, if they can get funded for it, of course...

Angry said...

I'm not sure how this relates to my post, but in any case...

I think it's overly simplistic to say that "teaching is the only thing that really counts" at SLACs or that "top-notch research" is only done at the big, research schools. First, there's a lot of crap being produced at these top-notch schools...people who generate lots of papers that look good to people outside their field presumably because of the pressures of being at such a school. And of course, second, lots of the best stuff is, in fact, done at small schools. Finally, things are so competitive that many schools for which teaching had been everything are now demanding research production.

Doug Natelson said...

I'll second angry's latter point. One reason why I didn't take an offer that I had during my original job search at an excellent "teaching institution" was that I was very worried about how big a research program they expected me to run. Some combinations of liberal arts college and physics research area seem to work out (witness the perennial good atomic physics work that comes out of Williams College). However, many small places really do want a piece of the big research pie, and don't necessarily have the infrastructure to get there.

Actos said...

nice post, it's really interesting for me today, thx