Archive for February, 2016

Getting Full


A lot of recent commentary has focused on the process and finesse of garnering tenure and promotion to associate professor, but somewhat less attention has been paid to the next step–promotion to Full Professor.

The process of promotion to full professor is more of a black box than for simply getting tenure, and the box is more obscured at the top and the bottom of the scholarly hierarchy—though I think most obscured at the bottom.

In an ideal world, most people would neither accomplish nor expect to accomplish promotion to full professor. In the real world, most faculty at US institutions think that promotion is a right of passage, and that duration in state should justify their increase in salary and rank. I don’t give a shit about the salary, but, no, rank matters. The decline of standards in promotion to Full Professor is the first step in the decline of the power and authority of the faculty in the university. It really is the case that the big heads across departments can and should dictate academic policy, and when we stop listening to the real professors everything goes to shit. When people who don’t deserve promotion are promoted, they immediately seek power and try to redefine success and progress.

Ah, but what you want to know is how to join the club….To even ask is to invite questions as to whether you belong….This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. You laid the groundwork for whether or not you deserve to be a full professor long before you made tenure (we’ll just start there…). Do you have an agenda? And, can you accomplish the agenda and keep it up. It’s all about keeping it up. Ask anyone.

There are perturbations, however. Full professor is not granted to everyone, and many very strong scholars are never promoted. I would argue that about as many deserving scholars are not promoted as are promoted to full without merit. Many scholars solve this problem by moving to another university to gain promotion. It is much harder move up through the ranks at one institution than it is to move into a full professor slot after being an associate at another university.

At the top tier, promotion to full requires nothing short of internationally recognized excellence. Nobody who genuinely comes up from the ranks at a top 40 university is anything short of stellar in research productivity and visibility in her field, and even in the top 100 people who get Full are productive and recognizable scholars. Publishing an article a year after tenure in specialty journals is not enough to merit promotion to full at any top 40 university, and just because you landed another book after 6 years does not mean that you are a lock or even remotely qualified. Tenure at top tier institutions was only granted to you because you are expected to continue a pattern or regular, high-tier publication. Full Professor requires a great deal more. Your work must be considered important to the field, and your agenda must be vast yet focused.

It’s all about the agenda. Are you going to do anything else? It’s not about what you’ve done. We all know what you’ve done. It may be meritorious, in some sense, but does your past research suggest that you’re going to be productive and important until the day you die? That is really what people are looking for in promotion committees for Full Professor. Is this person really living and breathing their life work in the field? It’s perfectly fine if you are simply good, and managed to make some contributions deserving of tenure, and then you are EXPECTED to continue to contribute to the field. But, that doesn’t make you Full, it makes you a permanent associate professor.

At the top of the top, decisions about promotion to Full can be more varied. Everyone is productive and influential depending on one’s metric. Personal relationships can mean more, and at many private schools (and maybe some publics, I don’t know) full professors wield veto power over promotion—one wrong move and someone could block your promotion to Full forever. That is unfortunate, and I’ve seen that hinder a colleague’s career who I think deserved promotion and it prevented me from getting a counteroffer when a colleague blocked a bid to make me full at Vanderbilt (though I would have rejected it given my family circumstance….). Unfortunately, I have to say that getting Full at the top tier does require more ass kissing and is much more subjective to the whims of the full professors in a given department.

At the next level, regular research universities, the process is a bit more rational. I’ve been on and chaired our College Promotion and Tenure Committee, and our standards for promotion are pretty uniform and somewhat low. If, in five to seven years after promotion you can come up with another minor book and a few minor articles, or 10 decent articles you’re a lock. But if those contributions take 12 years, forget about it. You also need to develop some professional relationships with people at peer or better institutions. External letters matter a great deal, and if you don’t know anyone you won’t get good letters. You don’t have to be a superstar (nor do your letter writers), but you do have to have enough of a reputation that someone knows you. At places below the top 40, you are a fool if you aren’t regularly attending regional and specialty meetings in your field. Go to business meetings, volunteer for committees. Get elected to something. I’ve seen people shot down several times who had the minimum required publications, but no “service to the field.”

Liberal arts colleges are perhaps the most fickle. Many seem to grant full professor based on pedigree rather than accomplishment. My old mentor Jean Blocker used to say she was too short to make full at Tulsa. Yet, Eldon (“Eldrone” as we called him) Eisenach was full in Political science despite his lack of scholarly merit and mediocre teaching. Teaching matters, obviously, but evaluation teaching is impossible and directed by the powers that be. You can’t publish your way in, either, since many senior faculty consider publication to be antithetical to the teaching mission.

At non-research schools there seems to be no rhyme or reason to promotion to full, except in heavily unionized schools where duration in state without a criminal conviction seems to be enough.

Shit polls are bad for Democracy: As are attention whore “journalists”


But, we had a record number of clicks on that story!

Whore journalism and whore pollsters are in league to undermine democracy so that they can make money and peddle influence. There are almost no real journalists anymore, and there have been very few in American history. This is largely because “journalists” rejected scientific approaches to evidence for “gotcha” one-hit bullshit. It mattered more that Nixon approved some petty attack on a doomed political opponent than that Nixon had repeatedly perpetrated war crimes and violated international laws. No, what mattered for “journalists” was that some “journalist” found out that Nixon ordered some lackey to steal useless information from his ineffectual political opponent. Yeah. That’s the story. Because, supporting the military industrial complex in Vietnam and extending this to the Middle East was not interesting. No news there. No intrigue. Not Sexy. As if anyone would want to see any of these pathetic motherfuckers naked.

I really like Mark Silk and he’s a bright guy, but he is not a social scientist who specializes in public opinion, and his opinion on the science of public opinion is often inattentive to fundamental methodological principals that exclude the vast majority of opinion polls from the realm of social science. Most journalistic polls now have less than a 1% response rate, if that, and they don’t even have a scientific sampling frame. The “Best” polls from Gallup or Pew claim to have an 8% response rate, and I don’t think that is even believable.  It is alarming that the vast majority of our non-scientific opinion polls now come from for-profit firms (most of which are owned by far-right wing media groups), or firms that pander to whoever is paying the bills.

Silk claims that this shit information is better than nothing, arguing that it winnowed the Republican field of several prominent Republicans who likely would have had a shot at the nomination if not for whore polls. Yes, it winnowed the field. But, it did not do that based on some semblance of democratic influence. These polls were so bad that it is very likely that candidates who would have been preferred by the majority of actual voting Republicans were “forced” to abandon their candidacy, or are now wallowing in damaged campaigns. That isn’t democracy, it’s shitocracy. The worthless losers who respond to shit polls while sitting in their armchairs answering their phones like Archie Bunker are now dictating the party pick. They are not the Republican Party. They are not representative of the population. And, this how shit media whores amplifying the horse race has influenced the process itself and pushed fascists weirdos like Trump, Cruz, and Carson to the front of the pack, and pushed moderately sane Republicans to the margins.

Notably, while I wrote all of the above a long time ago, tonight this is in stark relief. Hillary Clinton is clearly losing to Bernie Sanders, not just in Iowa and New Hampshire, but across the nation. Who cares if Hillary can maybe pull off South Carolina, Bernie will stomp her in California and New York. On the Republican side, the “normal” Republicans–Kasich and Bush, and Rubio—did very well, and Kasich and Bush did well despite the incessant bleating from “journalists” that they have no chance. Gee, what if the “journalists” weren’t bleating that shit and were instead paying attention to the positions held by the candidates and reporting on the issues that matter to Americans instead of horse race shit-poll based politics? I don’t care. I’d rather see Bernie against Trump or Cruz than Bush or Kasich. Hillary will lose to any of the establishment republicans if she can manage to win, which she won’t.

Media led elections based on shit polls are not democracy. It’s more like some reality TV show. Thankfully, enough people seem to realize that Bernie is our only hope, and they didn’t believe the bullshit polls saying he had no chance.



Pant Pissing Brooklyn Hipster Forces David Bowie from His Deathbed


I wasn’t able to properly lament the death of David Bowie, who was one of the greatest and most original talents in rock and roll. Instead, I’ll rant after the fact about the 20-something hipster idiots who think that they are music critics with deep thoughts. It says a lot about the scared, feeble-minded ideologues who pass for journalists to somehow think Blackstar was about ISIS. They are so afraid that some Islamic terrorist is going to bust into their hipster hangout in Brooklyn that they can’t even listen to a song that is so obviously about Bowie’s own death that it is mind boggling. The entire album is about Bowie’s illness and impending doom, and he doesn’t mince words.  David Bowie literally had to deny this shit from his deathbed. Granted, saxophonist Donny McCaslin made the off the cuff suggestion to a reporter, who believed it and repeated it, and even months after Bowie denied this it was again repeated by another hipster. McCaslin was likely just making shit up because he was sworn not to say anything about Bowie’s health.