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A perversity of modern higher education for a long time, in my opinion, is the discount that is generally assigned to being a good teacher in the class room when evaluating the "worthiness" of faculty for tenure.

Universities are meant to be a place of learning for the next generation of educated citizens as well as the next generation of scholars.

Too many schools place (at least implicitly, though often explicitly) a premium on some form of publish or perish. The result too often is lousy teachers, or less than great or good teachers with tenure and promotion being the almost single goal one basis of the published articles they have on their CV.

Now, before I continue, I shout from the roof tops that I agree with Peter that continuing and excellent scholarship as reflected in publishing is crucial to intellectual growth and influencing others not only in the class room.

But, having said that, I consider it a wrong view of what higher education should be, and how professors are evaluated that being "merely" a good teacher means that you get relegated to the "second class citizenship" in academia. That is, hired and rehired on a rolling contract, perhaps, but not tenure because you are "merely" a good teacher.

So why should anyone really bother to foster and develop an exceptional teaching style and attention to students when the "real reward" to to devote as little attention to the class room and lecture preparation as possible so you can "win" the prize of tenure and promotion?

If we operated in a fully and only private higher educational environment with no government funding or support, I wonder if parents, students, and scholarship-providing charities would be as interested in the fact that Professor "X" has 20 articles in the AER, but babbles incoherently in the class room and can't arouse the interest or enthusiasm among the students that we should want to see created.

Peter has an truly outstanding publishing record, but he would be worthy of tenure simply on the basis of his qualities in the class room and his care and attention for students at GMU.

Richard Ebeling

At the risk of sounding even more self-serving than usual, this is why I have become, after spending 20 years at one, a believer in high-quality liberal arts colleges both as great experiences for students and as great place for Austrian economists to work.

When I interview job candidates here, one thing I say to them is that I think we have the teaching/research balance pretty right: "Great teaching is rewarded and research is supported." This is a great environment for student learning, where really good classroom teachers also are expected to produce scholarship and have that work institutionally supported.

It's also a great balance for Austrians for two reasons:

1. Many/most Austrians are great teachers (a fact worth some serious analysis), making it likely that they will get tenure.

2. Not only is research supported, but selective LACs are much less fussy about WHERE one publishes than are research schools. You don't need AER/JPE articles to meet the research requirements for tenure.

Of course we need Austrians teaching at PhD schools, but we also need them educating the next generation and finding those few students who can then continue on for advanced degrees. Finding a home at a SLAC is a really good way to both contribute to the movement and to have a great life.

"... Prepare Yourself So You are Never One of Them"
adding this important modifier: "Unless you want to be one of them."

Rod has a good point; I have a question:

9 out of 10 times, we want to avoid such positions. Are there situations in which we want to pursue such positions (and not merely as defaults, but as active competitors with other possibilities)?

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