Countless decisions in academe are based on the quest for excellence. Which professors to hire and promote. Which grants to fund. Which projects to pursue. Everyone wants to promote excellence. But what if academe actually doesn’t know what excellence is?
In the ongoing debates over professors’ politics, right-wing critics make much of the fact that many surveys have found professors -- especially in the humanities -- to be well to the left of the American public. This political incongruence is frequently used as a jumping off point to suggest that professors are indoctrinating students with leftist ideas.
SAN DIEGO -- You know the stereotypes -- perhaps even believe them. College administrators these days care only for the bottom line. Professors can't decide anything or ever endorse change. When professors become department chairs or deans, they cross over to the "dark side," and forget their old values and friends.
Tenure-track jobs are harder than ever to find, with the economic mess prompting many colleges to grow even more cautious about hiring anyone on the tenure track. Tenure-track openings are being put on hold. Searches are being called off every day. Many who worry that higher education has created a faculty of two tiers -- the privileged tenured class and the overused and abused adjuncts -- have been told that this year is simply not the year in which to promote change.
English and foreign language departments promote male associate professors to full professors on average at least a year -- and in some cases, depending on type of institutions, several years -- more speedily than they promote women, according to a study being released today by the Modern Language Association. Over all, the average time for women as associate professor prior to promotion is 8.2 years, compared to 6.6 years for men.