Sunday, October 15, 2006

The dog ate my homework - last Lazy Professor for a while.

I was told a story recently by a Southern Illinois business person about their son attending SIUC. He took some freshman class and had a section taught by some Indian person. He just couldn't understand them. So he flunked the class. I asked if they had read the text book and done the homework problems? Then I asked if he realized that one of the skills you might learn at university is to see people from other places in the world and learn how to deal with accents (we were talking about Indian who speaks better English than any freshman). I understood there might be a problem, but mostly it seemed like the kid gave an excuse because he didn't feel like doing the work.

As I have gone through my series of lazy professors essays, I keep getting the feeling that the dog is eating the professors homework. You are here, it is poorly managed, you are underpaid, you are poorly managed, but is that a reason to do less then an excellent job? Quit and go elsewhere, or stay and do a great job.

Let's jump into some result metrics. If you have published enough to receive tenure in the last 6 or 7 years, good for you. But how many haven't. How come almost all the service rests on a few full professors (who have been doing it forever) and are still publishing? Are you going to end your 30 year career as a professor with 60 good papers or 20 books? How about 30 papers and 3 books? Why is it OK to become much less productive as you enter the prime of your career? Is it retiring in place if you stop working hard? What percentage of professors have published even 1 paper in the last 6 years? How many have published only 3 or less?

I would guess of the professors who have had tenure for 6 or more years, less than 50% would receive it again based on the performance of their last 6 years. What do you guys think?

I'm not very smart about these things, but SIUC professors as a whole aren't doing well enough over the course of their careers are they (I'm not talking about you, people you know or work with. Everyone else beside them rolling his eyes) as professors from other research universities? Everyone realizes how much results track with effort right?

Understand now, that if you tell me that SIUC's research results as a whole compare favorably to other schools of the same size, I'm going to dig out the peer institution results. I'm sure you and your friends are doing great!!!! But, let's make it broader than that so you don't feel attacked. Please don't tell me you don't understand that SIUC's research results aren't as good as they should be as a whole.

Your comments are welcome.


Fraydog said...

Wasn't SIUC at one point ahead of a good chunk of the University of California System universities in research productivity? That might be a good question to ask WVW, didn't he go to Berkeley for undergrad?

don said...

FYI: I performed a quick search using a professional database tool just now (for my former colleagues at SIU, of which there are approximately thirty), and found that, in the last six years, approximately 240 papers have been listed on said database. This works out to 1.3 papers per year per person. (By way of comparison, I averaged a little over 2 per year.)

This search doesn't include all publications, but it does pick up most. It should also be noted that four of the people in the department racked up 28, 18, 16, and 14 publications over said period, respectively, so that the remaining people average one per year -- and several have 0, 1, or 2 listings for 2001-06.

Anonymous said...

WVW got his Master's at Berkeley. See,