Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Intelligence and Common Sense Are Not The Same

Yesterday's shootings at the University of Alabama- Huntsville pointed up several things. One is that you can graduate with your doctorate from a prestigious university and still be a failure. Another is that one's problems should NEVER be solved with violence. Thirdly, being highly intelligent is not the same as having one iota of common sense.

The tenure process in academe is very stressful. I promoted from assistant to associate professor in 2003, and am currently completing my dossier for promotion to full professor, which I don't really expect to get on this go 'round. When I was on my "up and out" (promotion with tenure), my health suffered. By the time the process was over, my nerves were shot, I couldn't sleep, and I was having random nosebleeds all the time. Failure to get tenure means you typically have one year to find another job as you complete your terminal contract at your current one. It happens more than you might think, and a lot of people believe it's such a black mark against them that it's a career-ender. Sometimes it is, but rarely so. As with so many things, it really means you have to pick up the pieces and move on.

I received tenure just before I turned 34. My father, who had given up hope of my ever achieving anything significant academically again, finally forgave me for not "producing" quite as he'd always planned. Being able to say that his daughter is a professor is a relief to him. It was a relief to me, because I didn't need to find a new job.

It never remotely crossed my mind to blame anyone on the committee had I not received tenure, let alone to roll into a meeting and kill them in cold blood. In fact, as someone who holds a concealed deadly weapons permit and has been shooting since I was a child, I know better than to point a loaded firearm at someone who is not posing a threat to my own life. Killing your colleagues is not the answer. They didn't reach this conclusion lightly or without some consideration, independent of evidence regarding the candidate's suitability for tenure, and they did NOT deserve to die for it.

I don't know what else to say. I support the right of individuals to bear arms, and I believe that the traditional process of promotion and tenure is valid and in most cases, carefully considered. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead and with those who are alive but injured.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The title "All I need to know I Learned in Kindergarten" comes to mind. I have found that higher education, despite the goal of making "better people", is not immune to the failed lessons of kindergarten and before.