7 Mar 2013


At the Department Research Day last Saturday, KL mentioned Good to Great by Jim Collins. He described great leader as one who builds a team rather than oneself.

Coincidentally, I read Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future? by Harry R Lewis not long ago. In one chapter, Lewis explained why professors do not like teaching. Universities select them that way. Nowadays, universities focus so much on research output that they hire their staff based almost solely on their research track record. Along the same line, research performance is the main determinant of contract renewal and promotion, whereas the assessment of teaching performance is often reduced to a single average student evaluation score and scarcely discussed. According to Lewis, we should not ask why professors do not like teaching. Rather, we should ask why there are still professors who care about teaching. Using the same argument, we would not be surprised if professors only want to build their own fame (or in the jargon of the university administration, international reputation) through research.

When we look around the department, however, we can only be amazed at the number of people who care to teach and care to build the next generation. Many are even young academics who are themselves struggling. This is almost suicidal, but it is lovely to be surrounded by good people.

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