Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Checker deck 

Cold Spring Shops has been building a deck of cards to note silly administrators. Stephen has long had William and Mary's president in his sights, and now some fool has turned tail. Seeking a more interesting target, Stephen now turns on Checker. Chester Finn's memo on whether the private sector using a business model could turn out better results in higher ed is interesting, but Stephen sees problems. It largely turns on the old problem, is basic academic research a pure public good that will be underprovided by the market? Particularly research in the fine arts? That's an old saw, but he makes another, better point:
Has [Finn] considered the possibility that independent and creative research (with perhaps some revised incentives to produce stuff that others will read) has its value? A student at a university where nobody does any research is in the position of a wallflower at a party, watching others engaging in the intelligent conversation.
We have long argued in my wing of SCSU that someone who does not do research is a lousy teacher, for they don't know what is new in the field. Particularly in relatively young fields like several of the social sciences, there's still rapid growth of knowledge. How do we compensate someone to keep gathering that information and bringing it to students?