Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Riddance

During a head cold induced lull today, I read a thing in Slate.com in which various women discussed which wedding tradition they would each like to see discontinued. It's not difficult to think of abhorrent wedding customs, but what if we play this same game with Academia?

What tradition or other general characteristic of academia would you like to see eliminated completely?

According to the rules, which I just invented, the things to be eliminated have to be of a general nature. So, for example, the answer "my department chair" or "my university's moronic president" are unacceptable unless you want to eliminate the general concept of department chairs or university presidents.

The candidates for disposal can be anything to do with academia, from the most momentous of traditions (tenure) to the most bizarre but inconsequential (academic gowns).

To get things started, I think I will nominate the ever-controversial Big-Time Collegiate Athletics and, since I am making the rules and therefore get to choose two (2) things to eliminate, I wouldn't mind seeing an end to those boards (known by various names) that some universities have to have and that are populated by political appointees and others who don't necessarily have much experience with or affection for universities.

My horror of these boards started to develop when I met by chance a Regent of a university with which I have never been associated, and discovered that he had absolutely no idea what professors did, what graduate students did, what postdocs were, what tenure was, what a professor had to do to get tenure etc. He knew that undergraduates took classes, some of which were worthwhile but many of which were not, and that professors stood in the front of these classes and talked about whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted (which wasn't often). Yet this man had a vote in major decisions that influenced the operation of that university. I became, and remain, anti-Regent.

Does anyone have other suggestions?

61 comments:

John V said...

I agree with your votes viscerally.

My view, however, is that the role of big sports is to bring alumni donations into the coffers, and the role of Regents is to lobby for increased financial support from the State, Feds, and donors. So foregoing them may be both virtuous and indigent.

I'd like to abolish dept promotion panels. Soliciting fluffy letters of recommendation, reading the fluffy letters and CVs, then generating more fluff in the stilted vernacular of promotion letters is inhumane. Usually people are promoted in lock-step anyway unless there is an outside job offer, when the chair unilaterally acts. University-wide panels rubber-stamping non-science promotions are even worse.

Klaas said...

Students. They are mostly useless and uninterested anyway.

NJA said...

I'd like to get rid of the presence of accountant-adminstrators on boards that make academic decisions, such as appointment and promotion committees.

In my (UK) university, our head of admin sits on every committee and recently attempted to block the hiring of an excellent academic on the grounds that he "only had grants from charities and nothing from research councils". Her reasoning? Here in the UK, grants from research councils come with substantial overheads (that the department keeps) while charity grants do not. In her head, this academic was going to cost the department money by bringing in an ongoing charity grant, and she preferred a candidate with no funding history... even though they both made the same difference to the department's accounts: zero overheads.

Thankfully, she was overruled.

Anonymous said...

That is pretty shocking about the Regent.

I would like to nominate for elimination the need for faculty members to act as academic advisors for undergraduate students on issues outside of their major. This may not be applicable at all universities, but it is at ours. I do not think I should have to advise a science major about his or her language requirement, or pick through his or her transcript prior to graduation to be sure there aren't any outstanding requirements.

Pippin, the Gentle Pup said...

I think academic robes are a MUST keep (indeed, I wish we all wore them so that we didn't have to have a wardrobe--though they are not very practical in labs.)

For real, I think the rank of Associate Professor should go (and if I were allowed a second choice, I'd say tenure)

Anonymous said...

The notion that some professors have that if you're not willing to bankrupt yourself to pay for your own research trips, or go without health insurance for your children, or kiss serious faculty butt to get what you need then you're not a real academic or you don't really love what you're studying.

Anonymous said...

Celebutantes on the Board of Trustees who get the final vote on tenure decisions.

I would name specific celebutantes, but it would blow my cover and they're voting on my case right now.

Anonymous said...

short term adjunct contracts -- you shouldn't have to worry about renewing your contract every semester.

Anonymous said...

inconsistent rules regarding vacation, sick days, and medical/maternity leave

Anonymous said...

costly things that are done only for PR, but don't add any actual value for those teaching/learning/working in the -- i.e. most universities don't need their own radio station

Anonymous said...

expensive, stylish (?), but not quite functional architecture

Anonymous said...

I love academic gowns, so I wouldn't vote to get rid of them. I would get rid of fraternities and sororities.

Anonymous said...

Business schools.
Fraternities.

alh said...

Do faculty meetings and by extension faculty retreats count?

Anonymous said...

Students!

LizG said...

I nominate: Reserach positions based 100% on soft-money. This should be illegal. Right up there with accepting pharma-logoed pens at professional meetings. It is a terrible plan for long-term sustainability, treats scientists like performing monkeys (without the cute costumes) and encourages unrealistic budgeting and spending by the university.

Anonymous said...

Midnight pancake breakfasts before finals in which the faculty are encouraged to participate.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Hispanic female science faculty, very concerned with all of the 'special' cases that I have come across in my career. So, from that perspective: Get rid of preferential treatment for diversity student enrollments and hires unless we truly want to better the lives of these groups. We need to begin to challenge these individuals and hold them to the same academic standards as all other parties associated with universities. Or we will just continue being disappointed by individuals not prepared for the challenges of the posts they have been chosen for. There must be a better way to prepare these individuals for the challenges rather then allow them to move through the system because at one time in history their ethnic group was disadvantage. We have to stop treating these individuals as victims and allow them to shine on their own merits. That said I think we should provide mentoring, training and support services for these groups to help them gain the skills to advance through their careers.

Anonymous said...

"I think I will nominate the ever-controversial Big-Time Collegiate Athletics"

I don't think you could possibly have chosen a more controversial discontinuation.

I am going to agree with you though. If we did not have Big-Time Collegiate Athletics all of the students at my university would spend their time studying in the library or doing lab work instead of getting drunk at football and basketball games every Saturday night.

My university also does not need the free publicity it gets because the academic reputation of the school is just as good as 3 hours of national TV coverage.

Why give the students something to cheer about, they should be cheering themselves on (academically speaking)

My "good riddance" would be the university rec centers. It is a waste of time for students to be exercising, they should be in the library. A university is a place of learning and research and should be limited to only those two things!

GOOD POST FSP!!!

Anonymous said...

"I think I will nominate the ever-controversial Big-Time Collegiate Athletics"

I agree with anon 10:12...

Athletics does nothing but bring students together and give them something to be proud of (sometimes). I say fragment the hell out of the student population, make them feel isolated and alone. That's what academia should be like.

Besides, it's not like we need the money. Universities are rolling in it these days because of the stimulus package. At our school we can't spend it fast enough.

Anonymous said...

Postdoctoral positions.

Anonymous said...

"My "good riddance" would be the university rec centers."

Are you kidding? The obesity rate in this country is already ridiculous. Also, exercise is a proven way to reduce stress, which for example, may arise from spending too much time studying or doing research.

AcademicLurker said...

I agree with FSP. Putting people who are ignorant of/hostile to academia on boards responsible for academic decision making is crazy.

I also second LizG. Soft money positions are the number one cause of the various ills plaguing the U.S. biomedical research enterprise.

FrauTech said...

"I say fragment the hell out of the student population, make them feel isolated and alone. That's what academia should be like."

My University already tried to do that. It was built after all the Berkely student protests and they decided they didn't want that here in this more conservative area. So they spread everything out, reduced on-site student activities, etc. Now they are realizing what a mistake it was to kill ALL the student life on campus and I'm sure it's contributed to low money back from alumni despite professional success.

I'd also like to see a cap on administrator salaries. And I don't mean the admins, secretaries, or staff. I mean the executives. Maybe something like executives and reagents salaries are capped to a certain level and can only be raised above that if tuition is lowered and other benchmarks are met. Also a set ratio between executives and tenured faculty so they don't make up the difference by hiring more adjuncts.

Maybe a salary cap/forced retirement age for tenured professors. Or if not necessarily an age (want to be sympathetic to people who got into the game late), an age based on having a set number of years of tenured jobs. Professors could petition this forced retirement by accepting a partial appointment (reduced salary) or by meeting certain new grant goals. I'm pro-tenure but I'm anti-some 80 y/o still teaching because he's tenured and he can and his salary is sky-high. If he WANTS to continue teaching that's fine, but I don't think it should cost students extra or block out younger professors.

a physicist said...

Get rid of campus-wide email distribution lists. At my school, we keep expanding the number of people allowed to broadcast emails to everybody on campus. 95% of these emails are unnecessary.

rocketscientista said...

I'm actually all about (some) college sports programs. I went to undergrad at a school with serious athletics AND serious academics. I tutored the athletes and while I disagree with some details on how things are handled, I surprisingly found myself appreciating the sense of community the program brought, plus all the money they put in, and most of the college athletes I met impressed me.


I'd get rid of the whole crap of adjuncts/instructors, and the need for all faculty to do EVERYTHING. I think schools should hire people in a broad spectrum of research time/teaching time. Like with cap & trade, there should be something similar with teaching at the university. Find a prof who's awesome at research and bad at teaching, trade those teaching credits for someone who is an honest-to-goodness good teacher. While each needs to spend at least, say 10% of their time doing the "other" thing, you get people who want to teach and are good at teaching VALUED. This produces better students. And said students have better RESEARCH advisors. And man, it'd be great. Yeah.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good ones out there. I'd like to abolish the arbitrary distinction between fellows and associates/assistants for postdocs and grad students. Where I've been grad. student or postdoc fellows don't qualify for the same benefits (i.e., can't participate in the retirement plans), and don't have taxes/Social Security/MediC. removed from their paychecks. All of this because fellows 'aren't technically employees of the university'. And obtaining a fellowship is supposed to be a good thing? We all do the same stuff anyway - stop penalizing success!

Anonymous said...

Preferential campus parking for alumni the day before home football games - as if everyone could afford a 3 day weekend every other week!

Alex said...

I would end the dumb tradition of pretending that freshman lab classes reinforce what is taught in freshman lecture classes. In the vast majority of cases they don't. Yeah, yeah, the experiment probably has something in it that looks like a diagram in the professor's lecture, but those 3 hours (or whatever) usually aren't spent thinking about how this system fits into the general scheme of scientific knowledge or whatever.

Rather, those 3 hours are spent trying to get something to work right, learning how to trouble-shoot a machine, identify bad data, analyze data, etc. Well, in the best case anyway. In the worst case, that time is spent figuring out "What does my lab instructor want me to do?" But the point is that even in the best case, what you are learning is valuable but only very remotely connected to what's happening in the lecture class.

I think we'd actually improve our lab instruction if we stopped pretending that lecture and lab have much in common. Sure, they have something in common, but not a lot.

Aria said...

I'm surprised to hear some comments suggesting (or declaring) the removal of students. Go ahead and get it out of your system if you need to but remember you were a student once.

LizG said...

OOoooh - campus-wide emails. I've got to second that one.

Namnezia said...

Fencing, who the hell cares about fencing...
Get rid of it!

Ms.PhD said...

great idea. But I thought you were going to tell us which wedding customs women wanted to get rid of? Personally I'd like to get rid of most of them...

I think I'd agree on the big time athletic scholarships. Get rid of postdoc and adjuncts. And graded homework assignments. Seriously. By the time you get to college, you shouldn't want them and nobody wants to grade them.

Anonymous said...

Emeritus professors, you only come in once a week anyways, give up your office space to some of us four in a room crammed in post-docs and grad students.

Anonymous said...

For those of you under the illusion that intercollegiate athletics brings in money, be sure to check out the Knight Commission report published last october (http://www.knightcommission.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=344&Itemid=84).

The average university that plays in the NCAA football bowl series spends about $10 million out of the academic coffers for the privilege. They bring in a lot of money, but they spend even more...

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I went to University in the UK, where college sports have nothing like the following they do in the US. Actually, no following at all. As in, each university has a team for each major sport, and they play each other, and they publish the results of the games in the campus newspapers, but no-one except the teams' friends and romantic partners ever attended. EVER. I didn't go to a single game at either of my Unis, didn't know the name of a single person on any team, and I love sport. I never felt like I was missing out at all, we all just followed the local pro teams instead!

JaneB said...

The assumption that it's OK to expect us to pay to do our jobs, whether that's by not providing equipment (laptops for example) but requiring us to have it or by not funding essential activities (conference fund of maybe 200 pounds, which barely covers a local two-day meeting, and setting a 'Key Performance Indicator' of attending two conferences a year, one national and one international - and to add insult to injury, we are supposed to attend these conferences not as part of our workload but in our own time since they are 'fun and good for your career'). I wish I was exaggerating.

John V said...

People who think big-time sports does not bring universities major funding do not appear to be empirical scientists.

Even Harvard admits 100 sub-par scholars per year to beef up its sports programs (http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2002/4/29/ending-athletic-preference-harvard-prides-itself/).

My campus listed its highest priority this year (with a $150M price tag for the state) as a new football stadium, and donors would have to provide the other half of the funding. A higher priority than a College of the Environment and various other institutes.

Most likely the colleges unanimously support big-time sports because it is profitable, and not because every single major college in the US is stupid. I fail to see in the Knight report or any other an attempt to model long-term big-donor loyalty (which is the biggest source of the endowment), probably because it is very difficult to get a handle on it.

As just one example, Paul Allen donates some funds to the UWash. Perhaps his ownership of the Blazers and Seahawks indicate his level of interest in sports. And another, his friend Bill Gates.

Anonymous said...

I vote to get rid of tenure, everywhere. Starting now by revoking tenure for everyone who currently has it. Tenure is abused more often than not and it also leads to the problem of "the rich getting richer" and being immune from the problems that constrain everyone else around them. even if one has worked hard for and earned their tenure - well in non-academia one never has to stop working to earn one's keep so why should it be any different for academics especially when tenure enables so much misconduct and skewing of the system.

Anonymous said...

I would eliminate the emphasis placed on doing multiple postdocs, training in different geographical regions (e.g. coast-swapping), and otherwise spending a large percentage of your life in a temporary living situation.

If you need to learn multiple techniques, or gain exposure to different mentoring styles, that's fine. What I object to is the notion that you have to go to different universities to do this. Why is it frowned upon to get your training in multiple labs within the same university (not even necessarily in the same dept?) Why do people think you are a failure if this is what you choose to do?

Maybe you made the choice because you have a sick family member in the area with whom you wish to remain close, or have a spouse with a great job in the area where you live, or perhaps you don't want to uproot your children. I can't emphasize enough how much I detest the attitude that the jet-setting scientist is not serious or somehow not skilled. Maybe they just are balancing their priorities.

Kevin said...

Collegiate athletics. The athletic facilities should be used for all students to get exercise and recreation, not for a small group of overpaid coaches and their (mostly male) proteges. Club sports and intramurals are fine, but university subsidy of athletes is not. (Note: I'm at a top 100 research university that has no football stadium or football team and, until recently, only club sports. The lack of sports does not prevent the students from drinking and partying, but is does reduce some of the stupid weekend behavior.)

Soft-money research positions. The proliferation of these positions (particularly in med schools) has resulted in the huge over-production of grant proposals and the resulting enormous time waste on writing grant proposals with low-probability of funding. Most of the soft-money researchers should be moved to the national labs, and the universities limited to researchers that they can continue to support between grants.

Bureaucratic excess. We have more staff hired to find ways to stop anything from happening than we have faculty.

quasihumanist said...

grant overhead. It's causing universities to prioritise research by the overhead it generates rather than the contribution it makes to human knowledge and to better teaching.

MattPatt said...

John V, if you'll check out this handy page from USA Today, you might reconsider your stance on athletics and money -- it would appear that most of the big-time university athletics programs profiled here are in fact barely breaking even. If you want to argue that private fundraising for the university would substantially decrease in the absence of an athletic program, that's one thing, but the idea that athletics departments are monster profit centers in and of themselves is mistaken.

Anonymous said...

I would like to get rid of the concept of the PI or the culture of the PI being credited for everything that comes out of their labs. IF the PI as an individual did have a direct role to play in the research then sure by all means. But PIs who employ a huge 'staff' of postdocs to write their grant proposals for them and then to carry out the proposed work and write the papers, I'm sorry but being a manager of scientists and budgets doesn't make one's role into that of a scientist too, and we should stop treating such PIs as if they are the brains behind their labs.

Anonymous said...

I would eliminate the "glamour journals" (nature, science etc). the drive to publish in prestigious journals leads to a lot of scientific dishonesty and political game playing that is at odds with the purpose of science. The goal shifts from doing good and sound research to getting a paper into a certain journal as an end in itself.

John V said...

MattPatt

do you mean this page:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/ncaa-finances.htm
?

I don't see the comparison between big donations to projects or the endowment and the athletic program that I argued is hard to assess. Maybe my browser didn't show me the entire article. Where does it touch on the general foundation donors?

No one at my school thinks admission tickets and t-shirt sales are going to pay for a $300M football stadium.

Ann said...

why get rid of postdocs? postdocs are awesome and being a postdoc is fun.

I would like to get rid of

GREs
PhD Qualifying exams
formatting and margin requirements for Theses
for profit journals
Big Fancy Offices

Anonymous said...

I would vote to get rid of postdocs (or at least make the standard one postdoc) and going straight from grad school to our permanent positions.

I am fairly shocked that people want to get rid of students. How are we supposed to train the next scientists without students?

Anonymous said...

Ann,
I can totally understand the other stuff, but why would you want to get rid of qualifying exams?

MattPatt said...

John V, what you said was "Most likely the colleges unanimously support big-time sports because it is profitable, and not because every single major college in the US is stupid," which I read as "the programs themselves generate significant profits," which the USA Today page shows isn't particularly the case. As I said, if you want to argue that the second-order effect of increased fundraising from private sources is worth keeping big athletics around, that's one thing, but the numbers appear to show that the programs in and of themselves aren't doing terribly much for the universities financially.

In addition, there's the recent mini-trend of universities declining to pour any more resources into their football teams, usually considered to be the most profitable sport in the US, so I would say it's certainly not universally true that the increased fundraising outweighs the investment in facilities and salaries that it takes to run a top athletic program:

http://www.boston.com/sports/colleges/football/articles/2009/11/23/northeastern_calls_an_end_to_football/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/03/hofstra-football-canceled_n_378516.html

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that people want to get rid of postdocs. I'm a postdoc now, and aside from the specter of having to apply for faculty jobs (and the mild pressure to produce the sorts of publications that stand the best chance of getting me such a job), it's the perfect job. Reasonable salary, no teaching requirements, freedom to work on whatever I want. If only it weren't temporary....

siz said...

Honors colleges in large State Institutions. Waste of time, money, faculty lecture courses and it's been shown that students in 'honors colleges' fair no better than their non-honory counterparts.

Every student should have the choice to take a smaller, slightly more advanced course if they have the desire. Not just because they happened to be valedictorian of their high when the graduating class had 10 people in it.

The current policy at my RSU states that students in honors courses should be assigned a grade based upon the grades in the corresponding large lecture course. How the f*ck is that fair? In short, the unofficial policy is that any student in an honors course should not receive below a B, regardless of their performance in the honors course.

Why is my department wasting faculty time teaching honors courses when we could use the same faculty to teach the same course to anyone who wanted to take it, not just those that had been selected based upon no prior superior performance in a college setting?

Makes me so mad, it's discriminatory, biased, unfair and all in all bullsh*t.

John V said...

Matt,

My two sentences immediately after the one you chose to quote makes my reference to big donors clear.

Seems like we agree. Except you're criticizing the universities at the same time as admitting you don't know the impact of athletics on the endowment, and I'm guessing from their nearly unanimous actions that university administrators know what they are doing better than I do.

I've also had some interaction with foundation officials at two of the biggest public schools with both research and athletic reputations.

Private fund-raising is not second-order, it is the income from ticket sales that is only noise in the multi-billion dollar university budgets.

Anonymous said...

This study addresses the connection between a winning athletics progam and alumni donations:
http://www.knightfoundation.org/news/press_room/knight_press_releases/detail.dot?id=135945

"Success in big-time athletics has little if any effect on a college’s alumni donations or on the academic quality of its applicants...

"Why then, Frank asks, are colleges willing to keep spending more and more money to support programs that, on average, lose money?...

"most believe they will receive indirect benefits from their teams’ success, like increased donations from alumni or a better pool of applicants that will help them move up in the national college rankings...however, Frank found that the empirical literature did not support that view."

John V said...

While Frank is surely a well-credentialed economist, he also comes off as having an axe to grind in the debate. His best-seller Luxury Fever argues we are overspending for everything. His previous book Winner take all inveighs against disproportionately rewarding winners. The title of his Knight Foundation report is “Challenging the Myth: A Review of the Links Between College Athletic Success, Student Quality, and Donations, hardly pointing to a look at both sides of the argument.

The links purported to yield the report didn't work in my 5 minutes of effort - I'm curious to see how he tries to connect the giving over decades to athletic performance over decades. I suspect he looks year-by-year, the wrong time scale for many gifts that often based on years of cultivated alumni relations, and written in wills.

Mainly, however, why should I take the word of a cranky report or two over the actions of hundreds of colleges with rich and varied advisors, Reagents, and Presidents? Don't listen, watch what they do.

Talleyrand said...

John V:

Dude, the fact that a whole bunch of people do something is absolutely no guarantee that it isn't stupid. And I don't know where you are getting the intuition that lack of profitability automatically translates into discontinuation. Think about the fact that no one directly benefits from cancelling collegiate athletics and that a small group of people will get screwed (the overpaid coaches and underqualified athletes). Diffuse benefits and concentrated costs is a well-know recipe for the persistence of inefficient institutions.

In fact, no one here is making any judgment based on the ACTUAL profitability of the sports programs: we don't know what it is. I am personally against them because I hate sport and think that a university should be about teaching and learning. And even if there was an effect on alumni giving, I would gladly pay that cost and offset it by selling the real estate and firing the coaches.

Dr Spouse said...

This is going to sound a bit smug, but I'd eliminate three things that are found in the US system but not in the UK system (I've worked in both but am currently in the UK system).

1) The tenure system (as well as "tenure" per se, to be replaced with "permanency" i.e. a lower bar to be reached which leads to a permanent, but "removable for gross misconduct or closure of department", position).

2) Salaries that don't cover the entire year.

3) Compulsory taught classes for PhD students. PhD students should be research students. If you like, you can require they have a Masters in research methods before starting their PhD. But I feel the PhD should be an apprenticeship. (A few places in the UK have a few compulsory classes for PhD students - most have requirements that are not classes, such as presentation requirements, writing requirements, annual interview).

John V said...

Talleyrand,

While it's an unfair comparison, this discussion reminds me of the numerous people who tell me that us seismologists just don't understand earthquake prediction, the whole bunch of us are missing the key observables in a blind groupthink, and they can already make working predictions.

A few reports from cranky people on one side, all the major universities' administrations on the other - who am I going to believe?

You can trust the cranks, I'll side with the pros. I've seen in action some of the people who raise money at UCLA and UDub, and they're not the rubes Frank's report makes them out to be.

And you and I can't afford to buy out the football team, even selling Husky Stadium (that's liquefiable swamp land) and the Rose Bowl (which UCLA doesn't own).

zoelouise said...

Tenured Boomers of retirement age showing no signs of imminent retirement.

Girlpostdoc said...

@LizG
..treats scientists like performing monkeys (without the cute costumes)

We have cute costumes - we got them when we got our PhDs. Mine came with a funny hat.

Chris said...

My good riddance to bad traditions of academia is related to the fact that there is a push towards PhD's doing most of the teaching, with part-time faculty possessing MS's filling in the gaps. The fact that you attained a degree, Masters or Doctoral, doing research, does not in any way predispose you to be a good teacher. Frankly, people (like myself), who are passionate enough about a subject to want to share it with others, but without the necessary graduate-level educationn (and oh how I tried and failed to commit myself to that) could very well be better teachers than those tenure-track hacks who know their only assurance at a life-long career is to publish, publish, publish. University these days seems to tell the public it's about education (often with he promise of a greater career prospect ahead of the university student), but in private, it's about making new and important discoveries and getting them successfully peer-reviewed and published.

In my view, neither goal is superior to the other: universities serve both purposes, so why not let the tenure-track people who would rather not let teaching get in the way of their research focus on the research, and let the perfectly qualified BS's and MS's who have seen the bureaucracy and social games incumbent to the life of a professor, and become horribly disillusioned with academia, but who are exceptional teachers do the teaching (at least at the introductory level)? Teaching introductory courses in your area of expertise ONLY requires an understanding of the material you attained in your BS, and a passion to share that with students. A good majority of tenured and tenure-track faculty lack that passion. Let them do their important research and teach the occasional junior/senior-level or graduate course, while allowing those who just want to illuminate and inspire freshmen to do so without advanced degrees or academic ambitions.

Being a good teacher is easy if a) you are passionate about the subject; (b) you can communicate the necessary knowledge because you are intimately familiar with it; and (c) your number one priority is to teach in a way that promotes learning, that convinces students that what you are communicating is interesting and worth doing. How else are you going to renew that specific field of knowledge; how else are you going to get new graduate students who want to become those groundbreaking researchers?

There are roles for every (in my case) scientist, and one role is to be the person that inspires a student to take up the academic torch and become a first-rate researcher. And the most effective person to be the inspirer can certainly be the tenure-track or tenured professor, but it can also be the person with research experience and a BS.

I have decided to temporarily leave academia and enter education (as in high-school), because I know there is no current long-term role for me in a university environment now (despite the fact that I have taught 7 university classes with only a BS and gotten excellent ratings from students and co-workers alike). And I would LOVE to say good riddance to the myth that only people committed to academic research can be qualified teachers in a university environnment.