Change We Believe In, But Tenure?

Turning down a tenured position at the University of Chicago Law School:

Soon after, the faculty saw an opening and made him its best offer yet: Tenure upon hiring. A handsome salary, more than the $60,000 he was making in the State Senate or the $60,000 he earned teaching part time. A job for Michelle Obama directing the legal clinic.

Your political career is dead, Daniel Fischel, then the dean, said he told Mr. Obama, gently. Mr. Obama turned the offer down. Two years later, he decided to run for the Senate. He canceled his course load and has not taught since.

File this one away in regards to (1) deans don't always know what they are talking about and (2) turning down a tenured position has the potential of leading you to be one of the two leading candidates for the position of president of the United States.

You who are reading this, could you make a similar such decision?

More like this

Over at Terra Sigillata, Abel has a post on the limiting of job searches that is an excellent example of the problems with the academic mind-set: The short summary: postdocs and other academic job candidates are disqualifying themselves from even applying for certain positions because: 1. they don'…
When I saw there was going to be a discussion of issues facing mid-career faculty at last year's Geological Society of America meeting, my first thought was: "Call the waaaaaaahmbulance!" I mean, pre-tenure faculty have issues. Job-hunting post-docs have issues. ABD grad students have issues. Mid-…
tags: satire, humor, comedy, outsourcing employees, presidency A friend sent me this hilarious story, which I rewrote and updated and share with you here. "I just don't understand why no one likes me," exclaimed a confused Mr. Bush. Washington, DC -- Congress today announced that the office of…
From the Chronicle of Higher Education: The 2008 presidential election has broken so many political barriers that historians may overlook one unusual fact: When Barack Obama takes the oath of office next January alongside his running mate, Joe Biden, it will be the first time in history that the…

Guess I missed my chance since I'm already tenured. Oh well. Maybe I'll run for school board or town selectman one of these days.

Well, the fact that future events made the dean's decision wrong does not mean he was wrong at the time. Really, what was the probability that a state senator would: 1) win a national senate seat, 2) have an opportunity to speak at the 2004 democratic convention? There are a lot of random circumstances that played into this.

How many times would the dean be right about another 100 Obamas who were in the same circumstances at the point of that conversation? The dean may have very good judgment after all.

When I was a teenager my parents reminded me I was an idiot. But then I turned out pretty successful, to their surprise. Were they wrong? No! I was an idiot! Their judgment at the time was spot on.

By JohnQPublic (not verified) on 30 Jul 2008 #permalink