March 4th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

Dear Editor:

Once again John Tierney (in his March 4th Column NYT, page A25) has it completely wrong. Despite his assertions, the Faculty is the University.

The University, like a law firm, an accounting firm, a high tech start-up, and a medical practice, is a professional organization. It is not like a business corporation with a command and control hierarchy. The goals, mission and direction of a professional organization are set by the professional members of the organization. The President is one among many.

The non-professionals and the administrative professionals (President, Provosts, Deans, and Department Chairs) are there to facilitate the productivity of the faculty in teaching and research (at least in this column, unlike that of February 25th., Tierney acknowledges the existence, though not the importance, of research). They are not there to compel the adherence to a new vision, however attractive that new vision may be.

If the vision is compelling, Presidents can persuade their colleagues to adopt it; but it is a question of persuasion rather than a question of the giving of orders.

Despite Tierney's assertions, tenured faculty can be removed for cause. None of us want to be surrounded by colleagues who are not pulling their weight in terms of teaching and research.

Martin G. Evans