Re “The move of the committee allows for the dismissal of professors with a mandate”(News article, October 14):
The mandate protects the academic freedom of full professors and provides a structure in which faculty members can explore and teach new ideas without fear of political or social retaliation. A new policy in Georgia that effectively eliminates ownership threatens this structure and will ultimately hinder the flow of new ideas and knowledge production.
However, it consists of professors, less than 10 percent of all research and teaching colleges across the country, and this trend of moving away from hiring professors engaged in employment has been going on for decades. That is why universities, even without a new Georgian policy, are already undermining ownership.
Non-permanent faculties (such as research and clinical faculties and part-time and full-time lecturers) teach, conduct research and provide services to universities. These employees will never get a job, will have short-term contracts, are poorly paid, and in many cases will not receive any benefits. As such, they do not have the academic freedom to be protected by the mandate.
While we fully support the protection of the academic freedom of permanent professors in Georgia, the academy should jointly protect academic freedom and ensure fair working conditions for all professors at the academy.
Olivia S. Anderson
Joseph NS Eisenberg
Ann Arbor, Mich.
dr. August and Anderson are clinical associate professors at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Dr. Eisenberg, on the other hand, is a full professor there.
In four decades of teaching in college, I have witnessed the shortcomings of the recruitment process, a system that can enable and reward lifelong laziness. But a new decision by the Georgia Board of Regents, which allows permanent professors in the public university system to be removed with little or no faculty contributions, is a mistake.
In this plan, administrators would avoid peer reviews to rule out those “who don’t contribute adequately to the university” – ominously vague terms to determine the end of a career.
Faculty members who meet the requirements of teaching and departmental duties would be in a much better position to determine associate contributions. It is not in their interest to protect the lazy, employed or not.
Under Georgia’s new policy, the performance of a full professor would be assessed by an additional criterion of “student success”. But how would you measure “success”? Number of students in your class who pass or finish with A? Glowing student grades (which often correlate with high grades)?
The true measure of a teacher’s value is how hard she works to meet the needs of her students. There is no reason to think that Georgia’s new policy would assess this better than traditional. Instead of encouraging faculty “career development,” this would lead to increased inflation of grades and concessions to higher ones, all in the name of celebrating “student success”.
Angela Merkel and the future of Europe
Re “The next leader of Europe will be Nobody, ”By Helen Thompson (opinion essay, October 26):
In general, I agree that the departure of Angela Merkel, the long-serving German Chancellor, heralds a period of inevitable uncertainty. I would hasten to add to this grim prediction that Mrs Thompson’s concerns about Germany’s future ability to exercise strong leadership in the European Union are nevertheless exaggerated.
The power of today’s Germany stems just as much, if not more, from its impressive industrial-technological capabilities and sixty years of political stability than from Angela Merkel. And who would have thought that such a quiet, undemanding East German student would end up where she is today, as Kati Marton’s masterful biography of Mrs. Merkel says, “Chancellor,” does he remember us?
Chevy Chase, Md.
Beyond the nuclear family
Re “Coexistence makes parents happy, «By Judith Shulevitz (opinion essay, Sunday Review, October 24):
In my opinion, the myth of the nuclear family has always been untenable and harmful to parents and children. As the saying goes, he needs you.
Until recently, raising children has always been a matter for the community – either in the actual village or with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Today’s development of shared housing is born out of the sociological reality that children benefit developmentally, and parents benefit emotionally when the burdens of raising children are dispersed throughout the wider community and village.
This truth is painfully evident in our mobile and less family-focused culture, in which exhausted parents raise emotionally isolated children whose primary social contact is the video screen.
Beverly Hills, California
Advantage of ‘Squid Games’
Re “The popularity of the game “Squid Game” scares me, «By Frank Bruni (Opinion, October 23):
I teach a “Cinema of Horror” course at the Pratt Institute, about the preferences of American film audiences for increasingly violent content, such as what Mr. Brunija takes care of the “Squid Game”.
I suggest that the old riddle of whether this form of entertainment contributes to existing social anxiety or merely reflects it can be circumvented from a different perspective.
According to some social theorists, horrifying entertainment can also be seen as a prophylactic exposure of the audience and thus they prepare them for, expected widespread stress and thus, ironically, beneficial.