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?
Risk & Reward
what you need as a faculty member
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
the Passion and Keeping a Job
post-tenure review a faculty development tool or a lurking threat?
Academic Exchange September
1999 Contents Page
Exchange Say a little about your
Professor Kim Wallen I'm interested
in how hormones during the prenatal period affect the development
of male and female characteristics in nonhuman primates. We're
doing long-term developmental studies where we can manipulate
the hormones that a baby male or female is exposed to during
pregnancy and then look at the effects on their behavioral development,
cognition, neuroendocrine function, a whole variety of things.
[Much of this work is based at Yerkes.] The research I do simply
cannot be done without a research grant. Currently, that support
is from nimh [National Institutes of Mental Health], but it's
also been from NSF [National Science Foundation] and the National
Institute of Child Health and Development.
I have a real advantage compared to colleagues at other institutions,
because Yerkes provides a basic animal resource whether or not
I have a grant. I know my animals are out there, so if I run
out of funding there's a limited period of time when the institution
can bridge the gap. Essentially, I've always thought my research
involves a partnership: the institution provides a basic level
of support, and then it's my responsibility to get the support
to do the neat things I do. I think it is a really unique model.
But the institution didn't say, This is what you've got to do.
It was obvious when I came in 1979 that if I didn't get funding,
I wasn't going to do the research. Sometimes, people don't see
that it really is a partnership. I think Emory is in the unique
position to create a different model, but we're not having the
discussions that would allow us to articulate that model.
AE What are the other models that
Emory's would stand in contrast to?
KW In the dominant, "northeastern"
model, you get the maximum out of your faculty by making them
provide all of their own resources, and therefore they run strictly
on their own motivation. When you get a grant, the granting agency
pays the institution so-called indirect costs, and those are
supposed to cover your office space, electricity, phone, photocopying,
mail, and so forth, whereas Emory College has always been very
good about providing many of those things, not to mention travel
budgets, teaching supplements, and research funds. In places
like Harvard, the University of Chicago, or others we recognize
as excellent research institutions, if you don't have that indirect,
then there aren't funds for those things. Historically, that
model has produced world-class laboratories. But the divisive,
competitive, backstabbing departmental structures have also come
out of that model. I don't know of an institution that has produced
cutting-edge laboratories that hasn't had this pressure.
AE What do you think are the problems
with that "partnership" model?
KW I think the real tension is,
How do you provide the minimum resources necessary to be successful
without making it easy for people to do the minimum? How do you
give support without reducing the motivation, the challenge to
push the envelope? For example, Emory has a quite liberal University
Research Committee grant program. When I came here twenty years
ago, you could get maybe $1,000 out of that program. Now it's
$30,000 [in the sciences]. That's competitive with a small grant
from NIMH or NIH. You can fund a lot of research with $30,000,
and certainly in some areas you can fund an extremely competitive
research program on that. That's really remarkable. None of my
colleagues elsewhere can go to their institution and get grants
of that size with the kind of speeded-up evaluation we have,
a relatively simple proposal, not a lot of bureaucratic overhead.
It should allow Emory to do truly risky, cutting-edge things
that produce great breakthroughs. And there certainly is a bias
on the reviewing committees to do that. But I think sometimes
it becomes a way of not going out and getting external support.
Probably the biggest area of concern is the more senior faculty
who use such support to maintain their research and travel on
a much lower level. Yet for young faculty, these internal resources
are absolutely essential. So perhaps Emory should develop a model
that says, We nurture you for a much longer period, then we gradually
wean you from this, so that by the time you're a full professor
you really should be able to attract all of those resources and
these things should be closed off to full professors. I think
Emory faculty members need to be honest about how we go about
what we do. To me that means acknowledging that we have a very
attractive environment for an academic, but it institutionalizes
some issues that the faculty should address. Everybody likes
to be comfortable, but if Charles Darwin had wanted to be comfortable,
he never would have taken the voyage on the hms Beagle. So if
Darwin had been more comfortable, might we have missed out on
something really great?