Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It's the [Quality of the] People...
Our Leader Still Doesn't Get It

Today the Daily had a Q&A with OurLeader. This feature (a feature not a bug) has the lame title: "Rappin' with Robert."

When asked about Mark McCahill's leaving he responded:

"I think there are many more examples of ... people being hired at the University of Minnesota than there are people leaving for other ... postions."

At least that is the italicized capsule used by the Daily in the print edition.

Now this may or may not be true. Data on this point is hard to come by. People leave the Medical School and no one ever hears about it. We had an expert on blood coagulation leave about a year ago and Mr. Bonzo never learned about it until recently when he tried to contact the guy and learned that he had gone. We've had people (numerous) leave for the Mayo Clinic, University of Virginia, Cleveland Clinic, University of Cincinnati, University of North Carolina, Emory University, and even Harvard. [Given where they go, I think this is a good reflection on the people who are here, but that is another story.] And these are only folks known to Mr. Bonzo in his miniscule little sliver of acquaintances in the MedSchool at BigU. It would be very interesting to see a list of those that have left the Medical School and those that have come, say, in the last year.

But let's take a real example. Chemistry lost two senior faculty to Ohio State. Both of them, I think, would classify as top shelf chemists. We lost another one last year to Wisconsin. Before that we lost two [sic] to Texas. Both of these last folks are National Academy quality and one of them has in fact been elected to the National Academy since leaving. Now chemistry has made new hires. Many of them look outstanding. But, based on the ugly funding situation and other factors, probably not all of them will achieve tenure and there is no guarantee that any of them will achieve the stature of those who have left. [Full disclosure - Bonzo got his PhD from this Department and it pains him to see it being robbed.]

Executive Summary (for OurLeader):

It's the quality of the people. It's not just the number of them. Losing high quality people like McCahill, or Ed Prescott [Nobel Prize, economics], or Paul Barbara [National Academy], is seriously affecting any prayer that we might have of remaining an outstanding state university, let alone becoming one of the "top three public research universities in the world."

Waiting for OurLeader to awaken, I remain your faithful servant,