A loss for the Academy.

July 16, 2007

I feel like marking the decision of Rob Knop to take a job outside of the Academy (meaning the distributed edifice of US academia of course). You can read all about the situation here and here.

The details of Rob’s case don’t really matter. One can always debate quality and supply/demand and all that crap. We’ve all seen people in this exact situation, regardless of academic specialty or department and heard all the arguments. And we all know at some level that competition is a GoodThing and that the tenure bar is Meaningful and all that. Phoo. His blog shows he Gives a Crap about things, I’m therefore inclined to believe he’s a decent professor in my book. He’s going to move onto a new job where they actually appreciate him and five years from now he’s going to tell all comers that this was the best thing that ever happened to him. All true, I’ve seen this over and over again in such decisions.

Also true that future students have lost a good professor and that is bad for the Academy.

Stories like this remind me:

1) Make it (personally, that is)

2) Help the (more) junior faculty around me in my department and institution make it.

3) Help the promising junior faculty and research scientists in my field make it.

I’d ask you to do the same, Dear Reader.

3 Responses to “A loss for the Academy.”

  1. PhysioProf Says:

    Damn, that is a shame.

    I have never met Rob and know nothing of his personality or character. But two things have really been apparent from reading his own recent blog posts and his recent comments in other blogs. First, that he truly loved being a professor and engaging in research and teaching. Second, that his heart was breaking from the realization that he was almost certainly not going to succeed at achieving tenure.


  2. whimple Says:

    Let’s be clear: it wasn’t not getting tenure that Rob didn’t manage to do. It was not getting either funding or telescope time. I’m not saying it’s his fault those things didn’t happen; personally I think “the system” gets a lot of the blame. But Rob isn’t going to change “the system”. What’s the alternative? Does he really want to become one of the (many) walking dead that are the tenured experimentalists that don’t have the resources to do their experiments? He did himself a big favor by walking away on his own terms to a new situation he wanted.


  3. PhysioProf Says:

    “Let’s be clear: it wasn’t not getting tenure that Rob didn’t manage to do. It was not getting either funding or telescope time.”

    I am quite aware of that; I was not opining on the underlying merits of either Rob’s situation or his reaction to and understanding of his situation.

    Rather, I was expressing my own perception of, and sympathy for, his reaction to his situation, which was clearly one of heartbreak.


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