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October 27, 1993 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-27

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 27, 1993

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420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed
by students at the
University of Michigan

JOSH DUBOW
Editor in Chief
ANDREw LEVY
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the Daily editorial board.
All other cartoons, articles and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

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0

Research enables teachers to teach

is intelligent way to attack problem

By ERNST PULGRAM
In a recent editorial ("Publish or
Perish?" 9/28/93), you argue that
assistant professors (APs) are so
fiercely pressured to do research and
publish that the quality of their
teaching is impaired.
You write: "The proof of a good
teacher should be judged on teaching
ability...," which can hardly be
gainsaid. But you surely will agree
that in addition to knowing how to
teach, the essential ingredient in the
teachers' performance is that they
know what to teach. Students have
the right to demand that instructors,
whatever their rank in the academic
hierarchy, be able to go beyond
yesterday's wisdom, that they do not,
year after year, trot out the same
lecture notes and the same jokes, but
that instead they keep abreast of
progress and newness in their
respective fields.
This they accomplish by
continuing their studies, by
advancing their education, in the
library and in the laboratory. One
may well call this activity research,
even if it does not lead to publication.
But it certainly cannot be that kind of
research that leads to shortcomings in
one's teaching. That leaves only the
requirement to publish as the alleged
culprit.
The prestige of a university is
founded upon the worth of the
faculty, both non-tenured and
tenured. Proportionate to the prestige
of the university is the value of the
degrees - BA, MA, Ph.D. - it
confers. Of course, the renown of a
school is considerably enhanced if
the scholarship of its faculty, at all
ranks, is attested by publications.
Therefore, to maintain its high
reputation and the value of its
degrees, the University must
encourage, indeed demand,
publications as an essential
component of all professors' duties.
You lament that "the pressure put
on APs to research and have the
research published is enormous" and
that "they are many times forced to
make teaching a secondary priority."
Now all incoming APs are advised
on what is expected of them if they
wish to be promoted to tenure in due
time, namely, teaching, the
customary academic services, and a
modicum of publications of
respectable quality. The last is a
Pulgram isHaywardKeniston
Professor of ClassicalandRomance
Linguistics, Emeritus at the Univer-
sity.

pledge, as it were, that upon
promotion to a tenured rank, which
implies permanence of employment,
the University can reasonably expect
that the new associate professors,
eventually full professors, will
pursue a career of scholarship and
publications. Beginning APs are also
given to understand that failure to
perform adequately during a period
of probation -generally from three
to six years - will cause them to be
discharged (with due notice given at
least one year ahead). There exists,
then, a contract between the
University and each AP. If the
obligation thus entered exceeds an
AP's ability or willingness, the so-
called "up-or-out" rule applies. To
succeed does not require (as you put
it) that APs "push themselves to the
point of being superhuman"; but it
does demand intelligence, industry,
and ambition.
In your opinion it is the pressure
to publish added to other
responsibilities, that forces APs to
neglect their teaching duties - if
indeed they are neglected by anyone.
In fact, the threefold obligation of
teaching, publishing, and research,
rests with no less weight upon the
tenured faculty. But if publishing
caused damage to their teaching also,
it would follow that at this University
very little good teaching takes place
- a view which, I trust, you do not.
hold.
It must be conceded that APs
labor under the strain of a deadline;
but their promotion to associate
professor does not demand
publications of the quantity expected
for the next step, promotion to full
professor. In fact, tenured professors
who do not perform in a manner
consonant with their rank, suffer the
unpleasant consequences in their
paycheck.
Of course, we all have
encountered excellent teachers who
do not care to, or are unable to,
compose an article or a book. If they
are on the tenured level, they will at
least have given evidence of their
ability to do so by having been
promoted from AP. But if their work
in the classroom is truly outstanding,
if they are sincerely and totally
devoted to their students' education,
then the University is lucky to have
them and can afford to keep them;
and it is also lucky to have the
occasional genius who cannot teach.
But if an AP discovers betimes that
teaching is the only worthwhile
academic activity and goal, then he
or she might choose to seek, for the

remaining period of pre-tenure
employment, a school where
publishing is less emphasized than it
is at the University, where the
ambience is more compatible with an
aspirant's talents or inclinations. I do
of course not mean to characterize
such institutions as inferior: they
steer a different course, seek a
different reputation, and select a
differently oriented faculty. In the
good ones among them the students
are well taught.
You regret that APs are "forced to
research (and publish) against their
will to prove themselves worthy of
tenure." No one should be thus
forced. But scholars, whether
budding as APs or in full bloom in
later years, are prodded by ambition
and by the pleasure that comes with
success and recognition, and above
all by the desire to inform and
instruct. It is a curious fact - and I
speak from experience gathered in a
half-century as a teacher, publishing
scholar, and judge on promotion
committees - that most scholars
derive from their own reading and
work in the laboratory, from their
research-without-publication I
referred to earlier, an impulse, an
urge to participate in ongoing
discussion, to add their piece or mite
of knowledge, to submit it to the
critique of their peers, to let by
means of the printed word the world
know who they are and what they
can do.
Publishing is thus a form of
teaching, albeit one addressed to a far
greater number of students than are
ever assembled in a classroom; for
the scholar, who does not need to be
"forced," it becomes an element of
academic life.
I really do not believe that APs
are victims of a vicious system which
not only overtaxes them but also
prevents them from developing and
displaying their full potential as
teachers. Certainly those who do not
publish do not "perish" (which is a
slanted, loaded term). Hence I must
reject this peremptory demand of
yours: "Publish-or-perish is unfair to
the University's APs and students,
and it, in all its forms, must be
purged forever from this campus."
Forty-five years agogI myself was
an AP here and I have known
hundreds of APs since then, and
many more all over the United States
(and, in equivalent pre-tenure
positions, abroad). Among them you
would, I am sure, find few who
accept either the premises of your
editorial or its conclusions.

.

CODOH leaders hide neo-nazi pasts

By HANK GREENSPAN
In his guest "viewpoint" in the Daily
("Museum lacks evidence of genocide,"
(10/6/93), Holocaust denier Bradley
Smith understandably went out of his
way to attack Deborah Lipstadt, a pro-
fessor of Modern Jewish Studies at
Emory University. In her recent book,
"Denyingthe Holocaust: The Growing
Assault on Truth and Memory" (Free
Press, 1993), Lipstadt has provided
fascinating background on Smith and
his colleagues that leaves no doubt
2haottheir noliticirootsand 2aenda

Like David Duke, Smith
was not always as
publicly 'polite' and as
superficially 'reasonable'
as he now tends to
present himself.
Gestapo officer's penchant for killing
elderly Jewish prisoners with his Ger-
man shepherd dog.
Smith reflected: "Let's say the dog
was an 8O-nounder-hell, let's sav it

that he has not lost his penchant for
venom. Mark Weber, co-director of
Smith's Committee for Open Debate
on the Holocaust (CODOH), seems to
speak from a more standard white su-
premacist perspective. Lipstadt cites
an interview in 1989, for example, in
which Weber expressed his concern
that the United States was becoming "a
sort of Mexicanized, Puerto-Ricanized
country" as a result of "white Ameri-
cans" not sufficiently reproducing
themselves. He thought it impossible
and undesirable for "black Americans

Holocaust denial
not a 'viewpoint'
To the Daily:
I felt that the Daily's handling of
Bradley Smith's letter to the editor
("Museum lacks evidence of
genocide," 10/6/93) was done,
overall, in a sensitive and well-
thought-out manner. The Daily took
important steps to clarify its decision
to those members of the community
who may be offended, in noticeable
contrast to its behavior when Smith's
advertisement ran in 1991, at which

be true or false. Questions of fact,
by contrast, are simply true or false,
and wholly independent of one's
point of view. While Smith's anti-
Semitism is an opinion, his denial
of historical fact is not.
This is no mere question of
semantics. Holocaust deniers do not
publicize their misstatements in the
hope of immediately changing our
minds about the facts of the
Holocaust. Rather, their short-term
goal is to promote what they call
"open debate" on the Holocaust.
They seek to transform a matter of

I do not suggest that the Daily
editors have so aided Holocaust
denial willfully. Printing the claims
of Holocaust deniers while
simultaneously denouncing it as an
untruth can serve to alert the public
tot he dangers posed by Bradley
Smith and his ilk. But be careful how
you frame the issue, lest even while
attacking the lie you give it its
victory.
JONATHAN CHAIT
LSA senior
TO OUR READERS:

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