Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Falling Stars

Given the nature of the day I think I might pick up on New Kid on the Hallway's discussion on rising stars, into which I have stuck a couple of comments. I am doing so without reading the Chronicle article, but from observations here.

I have seen, with our current campus administration that, more than many, some of the top members have been focussed on issues that build their own resumes. This has, of course, always been true, and is understandably commonplace. However it brings with it a logic that a new set of stars should be formed with each change, since it is difficult to claim credit for a "rising star" who is already here when the new administrator takes over. Further in a world of constrained budgets after a while the resident star is consuming resource that could be used to create a new "rising star" for which the current Admin could claim credit. (It's the same thing with bridges and politicians - nobody gets their name on a maintained bridge). Plus one gets credit if one attracts a new star, but loses little of one is hired away elsewhere. (Except in the rare case where the star is clearly arrived and very well established). Thus, unfortunately, there is not a lot of incentive for nurturing such folk all the way through at a single institution, and some incentive for them to move.

Soneone made the comment that you have to move to rise. Actually that isn't always so, we have seen a couple of folk here get respectably high after starting out as Asst Profs. But admittedly most of the stars have, after a while left. This may, or may not be to their advantage. I say this with a "rising star" having just arrived in my home Department. He has moved I think four times to get here, where he now holds a named Chair. But in getting here he has barely established a vesting in retirement at any school. Now contrast this with the old fogey that has been here for a lifetime. Under our retirement the OF (fogey being the polite version) has say 35 years times 2% times average final 5-year salary. The star has incremental retirements that are based on much lower salaries as he moved up. Admittedly he is ending with a higher salary in absolute terms (and he may well make a couple of moves after here). But after retirement he will likely be a fair bit worse off.

I offer this thought in the day that, half-way through our meeting, our current Tsar did, as they say, the decent thing, and announced the closing of his career at our instituion.

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