I’ve been working so hard during this convocation week that I haven’t been following all my Andrew Sullivan links. Therefore, I only just found this ridiculous piece of Mark C. Taylor-inspired anti-tenure propaganda. Here’s my favorite part:
Mark C. Taylor, chair of the Columbia University department of religion and author of the forthcoming Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities, calculates that someone who serves as an associate professor with tenure for five years and then becomes a full professor for 30 years costs a private university $12.2 million.* Public universities pay $10 million over the same period. And because most universities pay tenured professors out of their endowments, each professor freezes up tens of millions in otherwise-liquid endowment money for a generation. University debt jumped 54 percent last year, with an average debt of $168 million. If the average university tenured about 15 fewer professors, they’d be in the black.
I’m pretty sure the notion that universities pay for salaries out of their endowments is just hogwash because otherwise there wouldn’t be an endowment left to tap before too long. Perhaps Harvard could do that if Larry Summers hadn’t put them in investments that were no better than gambling in Vegas and they had my university’s salary obligations, but they don’t because they’re Harvard. Nevertheless, I’ll leave the money question aside to talk priorities
How much money would most universities save if they dumped their football teams? How much money would they save if they cut 15 administrators? How much money would most universities save if they stopped building incoming Freshman climbing walls and health clubs? I could go on forever.
If you go to that article and check the correction you’ll see that the dude who wrote this didn’t even know that associate professors have tenure. There’s also a great bit where he nakedly asserts that women don’t want tenure because it interferes with motherhood, to which I say show me these women, please.
Based on all these stories, I’m guessing that Mark C. Taylor’s book is going to be a bestseller as most of the academic blogosphere will purchase it just in order to rhetorically beat the thing like a piñata. I wonder which violator of Rees’ Rule the powers that be will put forward after that? There must be loads more self-loathing, tenured tenure-haters out there somewhere.