Monday, February 2, 2015

Jim Rogers speaks out against university Tenures

American universities used to be places where excellent teachers could be found, where the best of them rose to the top. But then along came tenure. It is the brass ring on the academic merry-go-round, and excellence in teaching has never been the way to attain it. Publishing and research and campus politics are what lead one to tenure. In pursuit of it, as often as not, teaching is seen as a distraction. I remember a professor once telling me, "This is a fantastic life. Too bad we have all these students around."

Tenure, at its worst, is where incompetent teachers find refuge. American academia is controlled by tenured faculty. They do research; they go to the library. Most will not say it, but students coming around, whether in need of extra help, complaining about their grades, or submitting papers that have to be graded, are an impediment to what they see as the real work of a college professor.

There is no profession in the world, anywhere in the world, where if you work for seven years you get a lifetime guarantee of a job. Except at a university. Becoming a doctor, becoming a partner in a law firm, you still have to produce. If you have tenure at a university, by the time you are thirty-five you never have to prove yourself again. Unless you burn down the university or murder somebody, you have a job for life. And a job as a college professor is the closest thing this side of political patronage or a mob-run construction site to a no-show job. 

Jim Rogers is a smart investor who co-founded the Quantum Fund with George Soros in 1973. By 1983 the fund gained more than 4000 percent.