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April 01, 1988 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-01
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Michigan a great university."
Vest said the problem with hiring Engineering profes-
sors who lack research ability is that "you end up teaching
the history of technology, rather than the technology of
the future." He said professors who are at the forefront of
their fields have more knowledge to pass on to students
and are consequently better teachers.
Vest also discounted the importance of communica-
tions skills for good teaching. He said professors' "depth
of knowledge" and their "enthusiasm" are more important
than communication ability.
Regent Philip Power (D-Ann Arbor) said a potential
problem facing the University is that there may not be
"enough outstanding researchers who are also excellent
University Vice President for Research Linda Wilson
thinks that the University stresses research more than
teaching because of "a major commitment to carry on a
large part of the nation's research."
"I think that the co-location of research and instruction
in the same institution is one of the critical reasons why
the United States has made so much progress in science,"
she said.
University Prof. Harris McClamroch, president of the
Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, a fac-
ulty governing body, said junior faculty members here
must concentrate on research if they want to obtain tenure.
"At the University, one's research and scholarly work
is more important (than teaching) in achieving tenure,"
McClamroch said. "There are very few teachers who are
given promotions if their research is poor.
"Some outstanding teachers who are looking for jobs
as professors may not be able to do so at this university,"
McClamroch added.
Although he said teaching is important, McClamroch
said, "I think it's beneficial for students to study with
professors who are at the cutting edge of their fields."


O ne University faculty member is renowned for her
research of the psychological effects of tele-
vision, but is a poor teacher. Another faculty
member is proficient in lecturing on nineteenth-
century European history, but has little research
experience. The researcher's findings have been published
in respected medical journals throughout the world, while
the teacher has repeatedly received favorable student and
departmental evaluations.
Which faculty member does the University value more
- the researcher or the teacher?
According to LSA Dean Peter Steiner, the University
values quality research more than quality teaching because
money is made from research and not from teaching. "The
market rewards for excellence in research are greater than
the market rewards for excellence in teaching," he said.
Steiner also said it is easier to judge the merits of re-
search than teaching prowess. "Proficiencies in research
are fairly clearly identified," he said. "Though they are
harder to document, teaching deficiencies can occur."
Steiner said research quality is easier to judge because
top researchers have established themselves in national and
international journals. The performance of teachers is
judged primarily by evaluations which many feel are too
subjective to be accurate gauges.
Although Physics Department Chair Homer Neal said
both teaching and research are considered before granting
tenure, he also said that "if a person were a leader in his
field, he would be likely to receive a promotion even if
there were a deficiency in his teaching performance."
Chemistry Department Chair David Curtis agreed with
Neal, saying that research experience outweighs teaching
ability for assistant professors hoping to obtain tenure.
"Basically, a young assistant professor has to have made a
name for himself (to get tenure)," he said. "You have to
show that you are a scholar."
However, Curtis said that teaching ability remains a
factor in determining who gets tenure.
"We, in the department, do look at a person's teaching
ability," he said. "(But) you can't get tenure just on that
basis. In our department, rarely does research get neglected
at the expense of teaching."
According to Curtis, "the pendulum has swung too far"
toward research and he has "been trying to do something
about that."
Curtis proposed that professors involve students in
their research more than they have. Research is a primary
learning source, he said.
Schwartz is a Daily news staffer; Lubliner a staff

The "publish or perish" dilemma is certainly not
restricted to the natural science departments. Poli-
tical Science Chair Jack Walker said, "Around here,
it's hard to get promoted if you haven't made a name for
Walker attributed the recent increase in research at the
University to former University President Harold Shapiro,
who Walker said made an effort to hire deans who would
stress research in their respective colleges.
University Regent Thomas Roach (D-Saline) disputed
Walker's statement, saying Shapiro did not favor research
over teaching. "I think during President Shapiro's term,
across the University... there was a push towards excel-
lence," he said.
The University is one of only a handful of universities
categorized as "research universities." Other such
institutions include Stanford, Johns Hopkins, MIT, and
the University of Wisconsin, all of which conduct more
research than the University.
When Shapiro became University president in 1980,
the amount of money spent on research here totaled
$108.7 million. In 1987, the total expenditure was $213.0
million, an increase of 96 percent. Last year alone, re-
search expenditures increased more than $30 million.
Roach said Shapiro and the University as a whole
stressed both research and teaching equally, saying, "I
don't think (teaching and research) are out of balance at the
Shapiro, now the president of Princeton University,
could not be reached for comment. However, Interim
President Robben Fleming said the emphasis placed on
research at the expense of teaching varies from one
University college to another.
"There are some researchers who are not outstanding
teachers, and vice versa," Fleming said.
Steiner said both teaching and research ability are re-
quirements for University professors, but he added that re-
search is valued over teaching because of the University's
role as a leading "research institution."
He said he sees nothing wrong with the University
status quo, and that students should not complain about
the level of research undertaken. "The students here have
chosen to come to a research university," he said. "We are
a research university."
Steiner said that if students were against the idea of at-
tending a research university, they should have gone
somewhere else.
While it may be debated whether or not teaching
suffers as a result, there is little argument
about the emphasis placed on research.

Engineering Dean Charles Vest said, "We in the College
of Engineering are not going to tenure anyone who has
not proven himself by quality research."
Vest said a faculty member who is not involved with
research "is likely in the long run not to be a good
teacher" and added that "it's really... research that makes

A lthough his students claim he is an outstanding
teacher, Visiting Lecturer Matt Kerbel has not
been offered a tenured position at the University.
Kerbel conducts his Political Science 111 class more like
the Phil Donahue Show than a conventional lecture,
racing around the auditorium and shoving a cordless mi-
crophone in students' faces to get responses to his ques-
The fact that he has not been offered a tenure track po-
sition at the University has enraged some of his students.
In January, a group called Students Concerned at
Michigan (SCAM) formed to protest the emphasis placed
on research at the.University. SCAM member Bonnie
Dunninger said the group was created after Kerbel was not
put on a tenure track.
Kerbel has been offered a professorship at Vanderbilt
University and is waiting for a possible offer from Stan-
ford University.
"(Not hiring Kerbel) just shows that in this school, re-
search is given a higher priority than teaching," Dun-
ninger said. "A better balance has to be restored between
the two." Kerbel declined to comment.
Walker also refused to comment on Kerbel's situation.
SCAM members hope to negotiate with the deans of
various colleges and convince them that teaching should
take precedence over research, Dunninger said.
The group has also picked up support from outside
Kerbel's class. The Michigan Student Assembly passed a
resolution in February supporting its demands.
Former MSA President Ken Weine said research plays
too large a role at the University. "It's unfortunate that the
University presents such a view - that we are basically
just a research institution," he said.
"This 'publish or perish' attitude involves students'
rights to get a quality education," Weine said.
Physics Prof. Daniel Axelrod said teaching at the Uni-
versity suffers because professors spend too much time
doing research. "I do not think it is proper for the Univer-
sity to neglect teaching as much as it does," he said.
"The University says that research, teaching, and ser-
vice are all equally important in getting tenure; but in
fact, research is much more important," Axelrod said.
"It's certainly a problem in the quality of teaching," he
said. "People are not hired because they are excellent
teachers; they are hired for excellent research."
MSA military research adviser Tammy Wagner, a
Rackham graduate student, agreed. She said the conflict
between teaching and research is "almost irresponsible."
"I think the problem that we're all concerned about,
including myself, is that wedas students are competing for
professors' time," she said. "Unfortunately, one of the
definitions of getting tenure is getting published. It's part
of the territory."
Wagner encouraged students to protest the emphasis
placed on research by the University. "I think that students
really need to demand more time from their professors,"
she said. Wagner said the University simply "needs more
"The problem is not with the teachers; they're getting
sat on more than anyone else," she said.
However, Wagner did not discount the importance of
research. "There is a feeling that (research) is the only way
professors will remain current," she said.
ccording to Physics Department Chair Neal, the
debate concerning teaching and research is not
clear-cut, because the two feed off of one another.
"I think there are many mutually reinforcing factors of
teaching and research," he said. He explained that
successful researchers might be better teachers because
they have more knowledge in their respective fields.
History Prof. Sidney Fine, a professor known
throughout the University community for his teaching
ability, said the current level of research at the University

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Political Science Visiting Lecturer Matt Kerbel's unorthodox teaching style is immensely popular with his students.



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