Two sobering charts. Assuming philosophy isn't an outlier among humanities fields (in either direction), this would suggest that a program placing about 65% of its graduates in tenure-track jobs is about average (recall the earlier chart).
(Thanks to John Doris for the pointer.)
UPDATE: An alert reader points out that the employed figure (roughly 65%) is not necessarily all tenure-stream employment, so the data is sobering indeed.
From CHE. They actually miss a big part of the story: Bill's political muscle and support goes back much farther than 2008, and dates especially from his time as Dean of the Law School at UT Austin (2000-2006), and the working relationship he established with many legislators. (The legislature deregulated law school tuition [during a time when they were slashing state funding] before the university as a whole got the same outcome--this is when it became clear that Bill would end up as President.) It also has to do with his status as one of the most high-profile lawyers in Texas--like many of my former colleagues at UT, Powers was involved in legal practice, as well as academics during the two decades before he became Dean. (The joke used to be that the most prestigious firm in Texas was the University of Texas School of Law.) I suspect it is true that Bill never treated some of the Regents very well, but it wasn't because he was "arrogant," it was because some of them were low-life yahoos (pals of Rick Perry), who didn't deserve the time of day. There is no harder job in higher education than running a serious research university in a state with both a legislature and a Board of Regents that like to micromanage and which includes a lot of people with very little judgment or competence. Bill Powers handled them all beautifully, all the while defending academic excellence.
Details here. That's a good break for UT Austin, since it will allow Powers to deal with the legislature during the next two-year budget cycle, finish the capital campaign and also launch the new medical school. It also means that the new President will not be chosen by Rick Perry--both the neanderthal Perry and the current Chancellor of the UT System will be gone by then.
I used to annoy my friends in New York and my friends in Texas by remarking that both places were the same: highly political, with competing "mafias" (not just the "Godfather" kind) wielding power and cutting deals. Obviously, the powerful "friends of Bill" made it clear that railroading him out of town wasn't going to happen without a bloodbath, and good for them for doing so. I guess I wouldn't be wholly astonished if come next Spring, with Perry gone, a new Governor and a different Board of Regents changed their mind about the planned resignation--bear in mind that the Texas legislature is only in session every other year, and they will be in session in Spring 2015. My bet is that key players in the legislature are already getting to work on stripping the Board of Regents of the power to meddle any further.
For a little context, let me share two stories from the 1960s in Texas, since political meddling with the university is nothing new, alas. Both involve Page Keeton, a very famous torts scholar who was Dean of the Law School at Texas for 25 years (from the late 1940s until the early 1970s) and was, like Powers, a powerful political figure in the state in his own right. He was also someone with a pretty good moral compass, considering the political battles he had to fight.
To get some flavor of the man: In the late 1950s, Keeton forced the big Houston law firms to stop discriminating against Jews after a Jewish student (who went on to a brilliantly successful career at a major Houston firm) mentioned to Keeton that he was told he couldn't be hried by the firm now known as Vinson & Elkins because "Judge Elkins said we don't hire Jews." Keeton summoned several of the senior faculty and told them to call their former students at the major Houston firms and explain that if they didn't start hiring Jewish students, they would no longer be welcome to interview on campus. They all caved, and so the major Houston law firms started hiring Jews in the late 1950s, while many of the "white shoe" law firms in New York continued to discriminate against Jews into the late 1960s.
But back to political meddling. During the civil rights era, many law faculty were involved in efforts to end segregation, expand voting rights and the like. In 1964, the Board of Regents summoned law professor Ernest Goldstein to appear before the Board to "explain" his civil rights activities, about which the Board was concerned. Page Keeton and the late Charles Alan Wright (law readers will know who Wright is, but I'll just note that Justice Ginsburg called him "a colossus atop the profession") drafted a letter to the Board, and secured signatures from the entire law faculty, stating that if Prof. Goldstein were forced to appear, the entire law faculty would resign. The Board backed down.
Later in the 1960s, the Texas legislature would pass budgets that included funding for the university, and then strike the salary lines of law faculty they thought were too "liberal" or "radical." Seriously! Keeton would mobilize his supporters around the state to force the legislature to restore the funding. I'm told this happened more than once!
And that's Texas. I'm very happy for my friends at UT Austin that Bill Powers, like Page Keeton before him, emerged triumphant over the forces of darkness.
I'm uncomfortable with the contrast Brewer draws between "busyness" and "scholia", between thought constrained by lack and want and the need to survive, and thought "that does not take direction from anything alien to itself"; or the contrast between servile and liberal thought. I think that's actually the wrong idea, and it gives obvious ammunition to those on the other side.
Here's how I see it. There is a continuum, from the need to respond immediately to a threat, to a need to apply a skill, to the need to learn a skill, to the need to step back and think about what exactly one is doing, to the possibility of taking the time to get a clear view of what we are doing, and (in yet further stages, but for my purposes finally) the possibility of devoting much or most of one's intellectual energies to something like the pure consideration of the problems involved in getting a clear view: philosophy, mathematics, theoretical physics, basic research in any of the disciplines.
Some business school professors, and some business school students, perhaps dismiss the more abstract stages of this continuum. This is not unlike the scientists who think philosophy is a positive waste of time. It's not. If Alan Turing hadn't been interested in the question of what is computable, we might not have computers. If Hobbes and Locke hadn't been interested in justifying the scope and limits of legitimate government, we might not have our Constitution.
But a lot of business school profs, and a lot of businesses, don't take such a parochial view of the value of forms of intellectual labor. I would be surprised if UVA's business school faculty at the Darden school thought it was obvious that UVA should shift resources to on-line, etc., as fast as Dragas thought they should.
Putting the contrast in terms of activities that are merely instrumentally valuable because they allow you to survive or make money, and activities that are genuinely valuable in themselves, invites crude skepticism about the latter and comments about navel-gazing.
Similarly Brewer's positive recommendation: that the humanities, and our liberal arts institutions, encourage “a form of reflective self-cultivation that can and ought to be a continuous life activity”. There's a way this fits with what I said above: the humanities, and our universities, help people think about (as Douglas Adams put it) life, the universe and everything, in a way not forced by immediate contingencies. You could call that self-cultivation, since as you change your views about the big picture, your view of yourself, and hence you yourself, will change. But if we put it in terms of self-cultivation, again we're inviting the charge of a crude sort of elitism.
Take a hypothetical student. She gets to take the long view at college. This puts her in a position to be an effective innovator in some market today, say some sort of tech or media thing. Should we think of this as a kind of self-cultivation? She's cultivating her response to the world around her, and that is of course cultivating herself. But her focus isn't on herself; it's on the world around her. My hope as a philosopher would be to help her and encourage her to think at all levels of abstraction: how to solve this immediate problem in her business plan, but also to see clearly (to think clearly about, to formulate a clear understanding of) what she's doing in the world, in relation to the markets, to other people, to what she thinks is valuable.
Is this the way the world ends? When groups that share common cause, utopian dreams and a joined mission find fault with each other instead of tearing down the banks and the bankers, the politicians and the parliaments, the university presidents and the CEOs? Instead of realizing, as Moten and Hearny put it in The Undercommons, that “we owe each other everything,” we enact punishments on one another and stalk away from projects that should unite us, and huddle in small groups feeling erotically bonded through our self-righteousness.
I want to call for a time of accountability and specificity: not all LGBT youth are suicidal, not all LGBT people are subject to violence and bullying, and indeed class and race remain much more vital factors in accounting for vulnerability to violence, police brutality, social baiting and reduced access to education and career opportunities. Let’s call an end to the finger snapping moralism, let’s question contemporary desires for immediately consumable messages of progress, development and access; let’s all take a hard long look at the privileges that often prop up public performances of grief and outrage....
Here. You don't have to have a connection to Texas, you do have to be concerned about academic integrity and the potential fall-out if political purges like this become the norm at the nation's leading public research universities.
Of interest to the readership here: when Bill Powers negotiated a multi-million dollar deal with ESPN for exclusive rights to cover UT sports a few years ago, he included in the deal a provision that said aside money to create two one-million-dollar endowed chairs, one in Physics, and one in Philosophy (the latter was used to recruit Galen Strawson). In all my dealings with Bill Powers during my 13 years at Texas, I was always impressed by the depth of his commitment to academic excellence, including in the humanities. He was always a special friend and supporter of philosophy, both in the Law School (when he was Dean) and in the university as a whole.
UPDATE: Here's a useful timeline of the political battles at UT Austin since 2008.
Colleagues from Portugal are trying to draw international attention to recent unwelcome developments regarding research funding in Portugal. The situation affects many areas, including philosophy. I am forwarding a text in English, written by a philosopher friend, describing some of reasons for concern; the text is already up online on a Portuguese blog run by academics (http://dererummundi.blogspot.co.uk/). Would you consider drawing attention to this on your blog? Many thanks.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
This post serves as a warning, and a plea for help, to academics around Europe.
The Portuguese Science Foundation, FCT, i.e. the Portuguese governmental agency responsible for the funding and assessment of national research, has recently announced the results of the last evaluation of the national research units in all scientific areas. Research funding in Portugal, even in the humanities, comes under the heading "science". In a shift from previous reviews, FCT appointed the European Science Foundation, ESF, for this review. ESF has been, in their own words, "focusing on the responsible winding down of its traditional research instruments and the transfer of policy activities to Science Europe." From now on, ESF will be dedicated to "science management" and to "quality peer review". It is unclear, from their site, whether ESF will continue to exist after 2015.
ESF was founded in 1974 and played an important role in the promotion of research in all academic areas across Europe, promoting collaborative research for instance through European collaborative projects (EUROCORES projects, involving researchers from at least 4 European countries), exploratory workshops (to support research into new lines of inquiry), and also conducted peer review. In the past, ESF has allowed researchers to define their own research questions, and apply for funding for self-defined projects. Now, however, this is coming to an end.
Miguel Seabra, the president of the Portuguese FCT, is also the new president of Science Europe, a new distinct organization dedicated to lobbying for science in the European research area. Since Miguel Seabra took office as president of FCT in 2012, there were drastic changes to the funding of research in Portugal. For instance, there were dramatic cuts to the number of PhD grants, post-doctoral fellowships, and 5-year research contracts. This took place in spite of the fact that, as the Portuguese minister for Science and Education, Nuno Crato, claims, the funds available at FCT have not decreased. In the humanities, the cuts in number of grants and fellowships were around 35% for doctoral grants and 65% for postdoctoral grants (The Conselho Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia issued a statement of concern after this -- the official link to the statement in the site of the Portuguese government has been deleted). This overturns a continued investment in science and research in Portugal in the past 20 years (or more) that had brought the percentage of PhD's in Portugal closer to the European average, and drastically increased the number of Portuguese international publications, number of citations and patents. As an illustration, in the last call for individual PhD grants, only 5 were granted to philosophy PhD candidates in the whole country.
Another reader wondered what the import of this would be in other states and for tenure in colleges and universities. As I understand it, the trial court's decision was based on a state constitutional right to an education. My guess is all states recognize a similar right (I haven't looked into this), but the court's decision was based on factual findings about how rules about tenure (and the like) affected the educational experience of the children. Other courts in other states may or may not reach similar conclusions. (The decision may also be overturned or modified on appeal in California.) The right to a public education does not, typically, encompass university education, so it is doubtful that argumentative strategy would work in an attack on tenure at the collegiate level. It also would have no force for tenure at private schools, where it is standardly a contractual right.
UPDATE: Philosopher/lawyer John Bogart writes:
Headlines notwithstanding, the decision does not hold that tenure for public school teachers is contrary to the California Constitution. The news coverage and public understanding will likely see it that way, but what the judge held was not that tenure violated the Constitution.
He did hold that (1) requiring tenure decisions after 12 to 18 months on the job, (2) onerous requirements for discharge decisions and (3) mandatory LIFO layoff policies violate the California Constitution. Nothing in the opinion even suggests that tenure is per se out — there is no endorsement of at-will employment. If tenure decisions were made after 3 to 5 years, that would likely pass muster, for example.
Still, the public understanding will be that tenure is somehow unconstitutional.
This is a sensible analysis, and this point is particularly important:
PTSD is a disability; as with all disabilities, students and faculty deserve to have effective resources provided by independent campus offices that handle documentation, certification, and accommodation plans rather than by faculty proceeding on an ad hoc basis.
The Columbia student newspaper dismissed a reporter after an "anonymous" accusation of sexual wrongdoing. Unless there's more to the story, the editors responsible for this decision should themselves be dismissed. (IHE uses, aptly, the "vigilante" word to decribe what's going on.)
Nearly 3000 votes were cast, and 95% of respondents preferred footnotes, with the remaining 5% either indifferent or preferring endnotes. The results are hardly surprising to any reader, but they are surprising when one realizes how the major academic publishers have all shifted to endnotes. I gather the main explanation for this shift--since it has nothing to do with reader preferences--are primarily logistical and financial: type-setting costs, the ease of converting to an electronic format, and the like. But since I suspect the preferences of philosophy readers are little different from the preferences of other academic readers, there is a clear opportunity here for a publisher to lead the way. I for one would give preference to a publisher that maintained a commitment to footnotes. What do others think? What explains the demise of footnotes? Are there other considerations at work?
Many of my law school colleagues (especially Judge Richard Posner) were strongly influenced by his work. Foucault's remarks on Becker, noted by Kieran Healy (Sociology, Duke) are quite interesting. In my recent Winter seminar on "Ideology" (with Michael Forster), I assigned sections of Becker's A Treatise on the Family in conjunction with exploring Adorno's idea that under capitalism, society is a "totality," in the sense that (as Brian O'Connor usefully puts it), "Each part of society can be propertly understood only as a part of a whole from which it gains its meaning." Unintentionally, but usefully, Becker makes this point with his analysis of the family under capitalism. Like many important intellectual figures, Becker relentlessly pursued some simple ideas, even to extreme and at times implausible conclusions. I was surprised to learn of his passing, since he was still a frequent presence around campus, and seemed vital and as engaged as ever. I have no doubt the various economics blogs will have better-informed commentary on his work and its import for that discipline.
(Thanks to Rick Hasen and Dean Rowan for the link to Prof. Healey's piece.)
...seems unusually diverse in terms of institutional affiliation of those recognized. Here they are by school:
1. Harvard University (16)
2. Stanford University (11)
3. University of California, Los Angeles (8)
3. Yale University (8)
5. Massachussetts Institute of Technology (7)
5. Princeton University (7)
5. University of California, Berkeley (7)
5. University of Chicago (7)
9. Northwestern University (5)
9. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (5)
11. Duke University (4)
11. University of Pennsylvania (4)
13. California Institute of Technology (3)
13. New York University (3)
13. University of California, Davis (3)
13. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (3)
13. University of Virginia (3)
Two each: Syracuse University; UC Santa Barbara; UC San Diego; Columbia University; UC San Francisco; Indiana University, Bloomington; Cornell University; Stony Brook University; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Oregon.
One each: University of Southern California; University of Minnesota; Brown University; Louisiana State University; Rice University; Boston University; Georgia Institute of Technology; University of Maryland; University of Rhode Island; Johns Hopkins; UC Irvine; University of Connecticut; University of Georgia; Kent State University; Clark University; Georgetown; Colorado State University; UT Austin; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Colorado, Boulder; Baylor College of Medicine; Emory University.
We recently had the latest Heidegger scandal, and now we have Louis Menand on the increasingly bizarre case of Paul DeMan, whom Menand plausibly describes as a "sociopath" rather than simply a Nazi collaborator and anti-semite, given his many years of fraud, misrepresentations, and lies. Of course, Menand has another aim, namely, to defend DeMan's work in literary theory, to defend (remarkably) its "rigor." At moments like this, one realizes that even words like "rigor" require indexicals attached, since "rigor a la Menand" has nothing to do with what you might have thought the word meant, as anyone who has read DeMan's "rigorous" misreadings of Nietzsche will know. In any case, a somewhat less forgiving account than Menand's of DeMan's bizarre life is here.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)