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Sunday, October 9, 2005
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I just noted, via Scott Nokes, that Daniel Drezner did not get tenure (he found out on Friday).

My heart goes out to Daniel, as one of worst things that a professor can hear is that he or she hasn’t been awarded tenure. It is an especially painful thing to hear because in academia, such a release from contract is a slow motion affair. One does not simply find another job-certainly one does not leave one’s current job immediately. The process of finding a new academic position normally means roughly a year of looking, applying, waiting, applying, waiting, phone interviewing, waiting, interviewing, and waiting and eventually, hopefully, getting a job. And, of course, one has to do all this while still working and teaching at the institution which told one that one wasn’t good enough for them. Sounds like fun, yes?

I have no doubt that Dan will find a position. His c.v. is impressive (indeed, quite impressive), so I have no fear that he will be working at a grocery store next year.

If antything, this is reflective of the fact that the “elite” research schools are quite miserly with tenure and promotion. I want to say that the rate is only about 25% at such schools (although that is just off the top of my head).

Indeed, I have a professional acquaintance who also did not get tenure at an “elite” school, despite an extremely impressive record. Thankfully he ended up with an even better position. Let’s hope that Dan can eventually tell the same tale.

Of course, the question on the mind of many will be “was it his blog?” It is impossible to know why someone isn’t granted tenure-it isn’t as if the committee gives an after-action report. It may be that they didn’t consider his work sufficiently theoretically grounded, or perhaps they considered him to be engaging in too much “punditry” (something I wish more faculty did-in the sense of more public discussion of issues in an accessible fashion). It is possible that his blog or his politics influenced some members of the committee, but ultimately it is impossible to know.

Again, my heart goes out to him, because I am sure he had every reason in his own mind to expect that he was going to be tenured and promoted, so the notification had to be crushing. Still, I am quite confident he will end up with a stellar position at a similarly “elite” school.

At any rate, I wish him the best.

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Filed under: Academia | |


  1. I have a former instructor who was denied tenure at one fairly prominent school in Texas, only to end up at another fairly prominent Texas school that’s in a much nicer - more metropolitan - part of the state. He’s up for tenure this year.

    That’s one of the things I’m dreading. Fortunately, I have this Ph.D. thing to keep me occupied. :-)

    Comment by Bryan S. — Sunday, October 9, 2005 @ 7:02 pm

  2. My thoughts are up at OTB (I can’t get automatic trackbacks to work here, either from OTB or my own site).

    Comment by Dr. Leopold Stotch — Sunday, October 9, 2005 @ 10:16 pm

  3. Blogging, the academy, and Harriet Miers

    Trackback by Arguing with signposts — Monday, October 10, 2005 @ 7:25 am

  4. Some thoughts. If it matters, I chair a political science department (Dan D’s discipline) at an “elite” university (Duke). I have had to deal with the tenure process from both sides, though more recently from the side of having to have “the talk” with a young person who didn’t get the brass ring.

    1. S.T. is quite correct, as usual. 25% is about right, if you factor in endogenous departures (i.e., people who left early, but weren’t going to get tenure). That means 3/4 of those who start at tenure track jobs don’t get tenure in that job.

    2. Being denied tenure is devestating. I have talked to Dan D about this several times, prospectively, and to his great credit he was studiously agnostic about his chances. I suspect that he is surprised, however, deep down. It’s like in the movie, “Minority Report.” Remember the line? “They ALWAYS run.” Well, junior people always think they are going to get tenure, deep down.

    3. But getting tenure is a HIRE, not a reward for past good behavior. There are many reasons the department may have chosen to do this.

    4. On the other hand, I am surprised myself. Amazing that Dan D was denied.

    [Note: comment partially redacted by ST-long story, and no, Mungowitz isn’t being reprimanded…]

    Comment by Mungowitz — Monday, October 10, 2005 @ 8:44 am

  5. Drezner

    A comment from Duke’s Michael Munger at Steven Taylor’s place, re: the Drezner tenure denial.

    Trackback by blogs for industry — Tuesday, October 11, 2005 @ 3:38 am

  6. Blogging as a virtual academic conference

    Once again, the relationship of blogging and academia has become a matter of much discussion, in part because of the recent denial of tenure to blogger and prolific international-relations scholar Daniel Drezner. In this context, I want to speak up fo…

    Trackback by Fruits and Votes — Tuesday, October 11, 2005 @ 7:17 pm

  7. Drezner makes three non-pseudonymously blogging assistant profs who’ve been denied tenure since May, while I’m not aware of any who’ve blogged under their own names and gotten it. I have thoughts on what this may mean here and here.

    Comment by John Bruce — Wednesday, October 12, 2005 @ 12:02 pm

  8. John,

    I was blogging under my own name and was awarded tenure.

    Paul Brewer is another example.


    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Wednesday, October 12, 2005 @ 1:39 pm

  9. This is a very Harvard like comment: But getting tenure is a HIRE, not a reward for past good behavior. There are many reasons the department may have chosen to do this.

    One wonders why all hires aren’t open competitions. Why midterm reviews occur at all.

    Comment by john prentice — Wednesday, October 12, 2005 @ 6:21 pm

  10. […] the years. and, in reference to the blogosphere storm about Drezner’s predicament: Of course, the question on the mind of many will be “was it his blog?” It is impossible to know […] per […]

    Pingback by Fruits and Votes » Blog Archive » Blogging as a virtual academic conference — Tuesday, November 8, 2005 @ 7:33 pm

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