Monday, October 10, 2005

Denied Tenure

When he first started his blog Daniel W. Drezner said I shouldn't be doing this. I'll be going up for tenure soon;.... So why do this? There are a lot of reasons, but the best comes from Jonathan Rauch's Kindly Inquisitors: "We can all have three new ideas every day before breakfast: the trouble is, they will almost always be bad ideas. The hard part is figuring out who has a good idea." Rauch argued that the liberal scientific enterprise was the way to separate good ideas from bad. For what interests me -- foreign policy, economic policy, public intellectuals, pop culture -- the Blogosphere is now a vital part of that enterprise.

Now he learnes he did not get tenure. He says The political science department voted to deny me tenure. Next year at this time, I will no longer be residing in Hyde Park or teaching at the University of Chicago.....

I regret that he did not get tenure, but the Blogosphere has been a better place because of his contributions.
I will miss the students. The undergrads have been wonderful, and the grad students have been razor-sharp. At the moment, my biggest regret about all this is the knowledge that I’ve taught my last class at the university..... That said, if one assumes that the opportunity cost of blogging (e.g., better or more scholarship) was the difference between tenure and no tenure – an unclear assertion at best – then it’s a tough call. From a strict cost-benefit analysis, one could argue that the doors that blogging opened could have been deferred for a few years in return for the annuity of a tenured position at Chicago. That said, if I did things only for the money, I never would have entered the academy in the first place. And I’ve enjoyed the psychic rewards of blogging way too much to regret my choice.

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged Indeed, I have had students gripe at me because they knew that I hadn’t done X that they wanted done, but knew that I had been blogging. Futher, every time I have given a talk about blogging with faculty present, one of the questions I always get (and I can always tell that it is from someone who does’t quite “get” it) from faculty members is how much time I spend blogging daily. There is little doubt that one does create the potential for someone looking at you and deciding that you are “spending too much time” blogging. Of course, I find it offensive that someone else presumes to know how I spend my time just bcause they see blog posts, or, worse, that they have any right to state how I should spend my time.

Ann Althouse blogged I know some untenured lawprofs who want to blog but who are hesitating or have already decided to wait until they have tenure. Drezner's case will probably stand as a cautionary tale for everyone now, despite the paucity of evidence that the blog hurt his cause. With the University of Chicago Law School putting its weight behind an official faculty blog, should we think that the University of Chicago political science department is hostile to blogging? But there is a real range of thought among faculty members about blogging. Some get it and some don't. Those who do tend to have blogs or want to start them. But there are many -- and they might not talk about it -- who don't understand the phenomenon. Some of these feel threatened by blogging or, perhaps, jealous of those who are getting attention -- unjustly! -- by blogging. Anytime a blogger falls short in any other aspect of life, it is possible to say it was because of the blogging.

Dr. Steven Taylor commented I'm tenured, so it isn't an issue. Although I did start blogging as an untenured assistant prof (and did so anonymously for several months, but decided to "come out of the closet" well before I got tenure.

Ethan Leib blogged Given the man's output and influence, it would be unimaginable that he'd have been denied tenure by almost any law school. It's interesting to read Dan on whether he thinks blogging affected the university's decision--and whether he has any regrets.

Mike Rappaport blogged Daniel Drezner has been denied tenure at the University of Chicago, the second such denial to an academic blogger. This is sad. Is it blogging or is it the University of Chicago, which in law and in other areas is known as an extremely tough place to get tenure. In both cases, neither person realized that there was a real chance of this happening.

OTB blogged First, Drezner's blogging under his real name while untenured was a gigantic mistake. There's is no way for me to believe that what he wrote at his blog was not a factor in the tenure committee's decision, and I think it was a foolish mistake for him to both blog under his real name but also to be so public about it (his website is listed on his academic CV).

But second, and more importantly, Drezner made another huge mistake in trying to conflate blogging and scholarship, and I can only assume that his colleagues deemed this type of work unserious -- a perspective with which I largely agree. Looking at his CV, however impressive, might have led his colleagues to believe that once granted tenure, his focus might shift away from his serious work toward more articles, books, conference papers, etc. about blogging -- which I assume is hardly what they were looking for when they hired him.

In any event, my untenured, anonymous heart goes out to him, although his credentials suggest he’ll fare just fine in the current academic job market.

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