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Thursday, September 16, 2021


 Yes, this is true:  

The missions of our colleges and universities have also changed substantially. Today, most of our academic missions include public engagement, student success and DEI. Yet those mission-critical activities rarely receive adequate attention in the assessment of merit. As we know, if a new scholar actually follows the mission of the institution, the majority of her daily work will not “count” toward promotion and tenure.

Say there is a linguistics department. The "mission" of the department could be defined as "doing linguistics."  That would be the traditional academic definition. Doing linguistics could be research, but also teaching other people to do linguistics. "Merit" would would consist of doing linguistics well, and teaching others to do it well. Should the linguist spend most of the day doing and teaching the field, or most of the day pursuing other ideals unrelated to linguistics? If the latter, then why have linguistics at all?If the field is not valuable enough to pursue on its own terms, then it does make sense that we should have our linguists spend most of the day doing other things. 


Leslie B. said...

What is meant, of course, is that the amount of work it takes to be the faculty member who makes these things happen adds up to a full time job as well. I was on DEI last year and it meant I had to say no to one of my articles. What the university said: I am not in a field they care about publishing in, so my work on DEI mattered more to them. I didn't agree, and I am not on it now, but if I had not been tenured I would not have been in a position to quit the committee.

Jonathan said...

DEI, then, is almost a like a tax paid by those whom it is supposed to benefit. The untenured, the unprivileged, the people working in the "service" fields, the members of minority groups, have to pay the DEI tax, but the Nobel prize chemist or economist can carry on as before.

Leslie B. said...

Right. Also, a great deal of my own time is spent trying to show the university that my field is a field. "You may need to educate your colleagues" is one of the things the people in unquestioned fields say and that overburden people in the understaffed fields with huge service loads.