One prof who probably should have gotten tenure

Unfortunately, it is becoming rarer and rarer for professors that actually use economics to explain the world in interesting and useful ways. So many teachers find it easier to go through simple math models that students may remember for a month or two. My eldest son, Maxim, wrote an excellent article for his school newspaper about one such professor, Jeffrey Gerlach.

In the economics department, a professor who is widely regarded as a great teacher, Jeffrey Gerlach, was not retained. . . .

Several objective measures indicate student support for the professor. There were three sections of Economics 101 offered this semester, each with 150 slots and within half an hour of each other. While the class taught by Professor Gerlach was overbooked, with 167 registered, the two other course sections attracted just 89 and 78 students each.

On Ratemyprofessors.com, a widely-used website used by students to share their views on professors, Gerlach has a 3.9 “quality” rating, which is above the 3.6 average for tenured professors at the College. The quality rating is a combination of the “clarity” and “helpfulness” ratings.

“When I teach Econ 101, I include many examples from business, politics and everyday life. I believe economics is very useful for understanding the real world and I try to demonstrate that in class,” Gerlach said of his teaching methods. . . .

If you read the entire article, you will see that the department defends its decision not to give Jeffrey Gerlach tenure based on not the quantity, but the quality, of his work. My question is this: how many other faculty members at W&M have been offered a one year fellowship at MIT or an equivalent school? I could be wrong, but my guess is zero. Here is a guy who seems much better in terms of teaching and at least a solid researcher. What gives? I have a hypothesis, but I will keep it to myself.



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