Join the discussion
your opinion of post-tenure review at Emory? Should internal
resources such as University Research Committee grants be closed
to senior faculty? Can Emory support its faculty without reducing
the motivation to push the envelope?
Money and Biomedicine
academic physician's ambivalence
Samuel C. Dudley, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine
could do some things here that I couldn't do at other established
seats of power
Worthman, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and
director of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology
Charles Darwin had wanted to be comfortable, he never would have
taken the voyage on the HMS Beagle.
Wallen, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Behavioral
the Passion and Keeping a Job
post-tenure review a faculty development tool or a lurking threat?
Academic Exchange September
1999 Contents Page
Carol Worthman's 1986 decision
to leave the Harvard faculty for the anthropology department
at Emory baffled her Ivy colleagues.
it was viewed as going down a power grade in terms of status,"
she recalls with a quick laugh. "It was kind of like, 'You're
But Worthman, who helped medical school faculty design research
protocols as co-director of Harvard's Laboratory for Human Reproduction
and Reproductive Biology, says she has never regretted her move
to Emory. "Harvard is a very intense research environment,
a dense setting. Competition for status and space and resources
Moreover, Worthman, now a Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology
and director of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology,
wanted to pursue her own interests in comparative biocultural
approaches to human development. "There was no support for
me to do international comparative work at Harvard," she
says, explaining that Harvard's biomedical research is driven
by its chief underwriter, the National Institutes of Health,
whose agenda is American health.
"The department here had an exciting vision--to promote
exploration of the interplay of biology and culture," Worthman
continues. "Rather than fight with each other, we would
try to at the very least tolerate one another and preferably
have a dynamic of interchange. And I'll be honest--it was the
resources: two years of technical support and very good start-up
funds. They built the lab for me. And I got URC [University Research
Committee] money to develop some novel assays and jump-start
the risky work."
Although many faculty at Emory debate the quantity and quality
of support they receive from the institution for their research--some
say it's generous and others say it's inadequate--the university
resources Worthman received buoyed her plans for an ambitious
and unconventional program. She says the atmosphere of cutthroat
competition she left behind operated on the assumption that pressuring
faculty to hustle for external resources is the best motivator
of top-notch researchers. The model for scientific research support
she encountered here, Worthman says, diverges from that mainstream.
Unlike at Harvard, the internal support available to her at Emory
does not necessarily hinge on the external dollars she brings
in. But it does, she says, foster the research that generates
other funding: her current extramural support tops $1.4 million.
MONEY, HARD CHOICES
To others, however, Emory
presents a different picture. For faculty in the health sciences,
the issue of "soft money" looms large. School of Public
Health faculty members, for instance, are required to raise a
portion of their salaries through public or private sources (it
is this portion that is termed "soft money").
"The average percentage of salary our faculty is expected
to raise from external funding [is] roughly 70 percent,"
Professor of Epidemiology David Kleinbaum of public health wrote
to Provost Rebecca Chopp last year in a memo outlining the dilemma.
"This 'requirement' undermines our school's missions of
excellence in teaching, research, and service."
That system, Kleinbaum wrote, prevents public health faculty
from pursuing the most innovative research. "Instead,"
he says, "we have become motivated to do more 'trivial'
types of research, as we are pushed to go for the money. There
is insufficient time to spend on writing after project funding
diminishes. There is no support for time to develop ideas for
proposals. There is no support for faculty sabbaticals. There
is no support for young faculty who need a few years to get research
programs started because they are often brought in on grants
that keep them busy with other
programs of research. There is also an increasing trend to over
use (perhaps even 'exploit') our non-tenure-track faculty."
For Chopp, one crucial issue is how to address the varying needs
in the university's different divisions. "Across the major
research universities, faculties are rewarded in different ways,"
she says. "For us, some of the questions are, Are the right
resources in place, and are the avenues to these resources clearly
marked and well-used? How do we foster an academic culture that
is both motivating and rewarding for the best in the production
and reproduction of knowledge?"
At the heart of the matter, Chopp adds, is the passionate pursuit
of scholarship. "I don't think many of us become biologists
or philosophers simply to compete, but because we are passionate
about our topic, because it never leaves us. As human beings,
we compete and cooperate, but what really makes us tick as scholars
is the passion for a question, for a point of view, for a problem."