A conversation between God and the professors of American "Higher Education."
God: "What is this? My boy was denied tenure. Even the Jews called him "Rabbi," a universal--and I should know--term of respect for a good teacher."
Tenure committee: "Ur, God, there's more to getting tenure than just teaching."
God: "I thought you were 'professors"?
"God, that's true, but actually, teaching isn't that big a part of getting tenure. In fact, a lot of bad teachers get tenure every year."
God: "How can that be"?
Tenure committee: "There are several reasons. One is that many places are afraid of being sued. Another is that some whacko will start shooting people. Another is that the professors don't have enough service and haven't done enough research and publication. Or they don't have a terminal degree."
God: "Service! Excuse me, my boy excelled in service--he healed the sick, made the blind to see, calmed storms, created wine, fed thousands. I mean he literally walked on water to help people...."
Tenure committee: "Ur, God, that's wonderful, but helping people is not the kind of service that counts in "The Academy."
God: "Then what does?"
Tenure committee: "Well, you know. Serving on committees that draft long reports or study campus issues. Or being elected to the faculty senate. Or working to improve the faculty handbook to assure some form of shared governance. Or getting grants from large corporate sponsors for research or buildings. Things like that."
God: "You mean sitting in long meetings, talking forever, forming other committees, never getting anything done? Sounds like Hell to me."
Tenure committee: "God, it makes us feel important."
God: "What about the students"?
Tenure committee: "Only junior faculty, lowly assistant professors and lecturers usually work on committees involving students. It's not all that critical, especially for senior faculty."
God: "Now what about this research and publication stuff?"
Tenure committee: "Professors must do research in their disciplines, discovering new knowledge that contributes the The Academy. The research must be original, supported by strong statistical analysis, and then published in a book or our refereed academic journals...."
God: "Wait a minute, wait a minute. My boy literally wrote an entire book--a best seller...."
Tenure committee: "Ur, God, frankly we saw his submission, but it was ascribed to several other authors. He can't claim other people's work. And further, there were no footnotes nor statistical analysis. Its sources were vague and only roughly qualitative at the most--nothing quantifiable. All that material would have to be attributed. How could he honestly call it "New"? And really now, the "review of the literature" leading up to that book? Come on God--citing the entire Old Testament won't do. No footnotes to all those previous quotations, no verifiable research that can be cross checked. Even historians question its validity. And frankly, his dossier was pretty thin. Just three years of what he called 'field research' That wouldn't even qualify for a Master's thesis."
God: "His students called him Master, for God's, uh, My sake! Refereed? God kno... uh, Myself knows, I vouched for his work.You're telling me that quoting ME isn't a good enough source"?
Tenure committee: "God--er, Youdammit, we have to follow the standards of the faculty handbook to assure the reputation of The Academy and all our hard work through the years. And frankly, there are a lot of professors who seem to doubt your qualifications.
"And besides, there was his nasty incident in the Temple of throwing out the money changers. God, we can't afford to alienate corporate donors and stakeholders."
God: "Stakeholders? Stakeholders? My boy can tell you something about stakes!
"Speaking of that. This terminal degree nonsense. He certainly had a terminal degree--literally! And besides, you gave tenure to Muhammed--another of my favorites, a step-son really, even if he does call me 'Allah'"
Tenure committee: "Ur God, that was really the final straw . Muhammed has a law degree. It's only a J.D., sure, but it's close enough to a Ph.D., that we can count it. Your boy barely finished grade school."
God: "Pardon me--no, you can't do that--but you guys have a Hell of a system working for you."
"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.