Former MP reckons "Professor" tag is devalued by former politicians who seek it out
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
News Limited websites carry this story kicked off by former Victorian Liberal MP Phil Honeywood. I reckon Phil's right. If you want to be a professor, do the work.
I'd add to Phil's commentary with another consideration about this practice. There's too much scope for unhelpful suspicions when a former politician is rewarded with a title for "supporting" an institution (ie by deciding to give the institution taxpayer funds).
Professor tag 'wasted on pollies', says Phil Honeywood
Former politicians appointed to often honorary roles in universities should not be given the title of professor because it undermines the long struggle and hard work of real academics, a former senior politician says.
Phil Honeywood, who in a former life was a deputy leader of the Victorian Liberals, said while there was a strong temptation for vice-chancellors to gather a cadre of VIPs, "it's a temptation that should be resisted". "Genuine academics spend many years acquiring the skills and knowledge to have the right to be called professor," Mr Honeywood said. "But to hand out the title to VIPs who might have graduated in the school of life but never taught a graduate class or written a research paper that has been peer reviewed is just wrong."
He was commenting on a recent spate of appointments of former politicians, including Julia Gillard and Bob Carr, to academic positions.
A list compiled by the HES reveals that almost all such appointments are to former Labor politicians. Whether this is due to a "natural companionship" with Left-leaning academics or whether former Liberal politicians are shunned by the academy is open for debate, said Geoff Gallop, former ALP premier of Western Australia and now director of the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney.
"Maybe conservative politicians feel universities wouldn't welcome them. Or maybe they are more interested in making money by sitting on corporate boards. I don't know the answer. There could be prejudice on both sides," Professor Gallop said.
University of Queensland economist and political commentator John Quiggin agreed. "There's a whole new business in post-political careers. They used to be older when they left politics and just retired," Professor Quiggin said. "Now they are becoming politicians before they have a real job and are much younger when they leave. But my experience is that most of these roles are honorary positions; a university is a convenient place to park themselves after parliament".
News Limited published a list of professorial appointees with the story.
Can you imagine Gillard teaching students how to be a Communist, indoctrinating them not to get married because married women are no better than prostitutes, but it's OK to have affairs with married men because when you are an Atheist you don't have to worry about breaking the Commandment "thou shall not commit adultery" and then of course "thou shall not steal" or help your boyfriend steal! And of course you can teach how to tell lies with a straight face and dodge questions about your dodgy dealings as a lawyer and then shriek at decent people calling them a misogynist when you know they are not and then take on a career as a teacher in a Uni when you know you are under investigation by police! What a joke!
Posted by: Chez | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 09:53 AM
The "good" Dr Nelson in yet another appointment.
I hope he makes a better job of this one, than he has his War Memorial position.
It may just be me being a grumpy old man, but I am sick fed up of incompetent fools trying to fix things that aren't broken, just so they can leave their own legacy!
And not a red glove, red shoe or red underpants in sight. Thank GOD!
Posted by: Jock Tamsons Bairns | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 09:55 AM
I have little time for some of the pompous asses that dwell in the ethereal nether worlds of academia but at least they have earned their right to be members of that elite clan.
Whilst some Politicians may have some claim to practical experience in public administration they dont have he same gravitas. Yet, as the list indicates, the list of status seekers grow and will continue to do so...there is one particularly tubby hopeful Puppy who claims the honorific/sobriquet 'Professor'. He is not mentioned, probably because the counting for his seat has not been finalised, but I consider very unworthy of the title.
Posted by: KenL | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 10:31 AM
Beautifully said Chez!!
I so wish Trish Crossin, or any gutsy whistle-blower, would step up and put paid to Madam Gillard's post pm ambitions once and for all!!
Posted by: haggis | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 10:54 AM
In the old days, people with unearned professorships were called 'Honorary Professor', and there was no salary attached. (Maybe there was a small stipend to cover the expenses of attending University Council meetings and other functions). I wonder if, nowadays, politicians awarded with the nomenclature of 'Professor' receive a salary from their sponsoring University. Otherwise why not stick to the traditional 'Honorary' tag?
Posted by: QueanieB | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 10:57 AM
Gillard, Professor of Dollops, i.e. of disbelief, not of wisdom.
Posted by: Truth_Will_Out | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 11:00 AM
Who would have thought that it would take a former Labor(sic) politician to give faux-academia a purpose in life - as an alternative to the prison-house, as a sheltered workshop for retired Labor parliamentary crooks.
Those who can, DO. Those who can't, teach. And corrupt Labor pollies, use taxpayers' funds to buy themselves imitation 'professorships' from third-rate academic institutions.
Posted by: Up The Workers! | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 11:03 AM
Was Professor Palmer unavailable for comment?
Posted by: underminder | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 12:33 PM
....and ex premier Beattie has five (yes 5) honorary doctorates. Says a lot about the convoluted values in academia!
Posted by: KZ | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 12:50 PM
Well the coinage has long since been debased by the putatively legitimate academia so I can't get that excited. Bedsides I think and hope it will not be that much longer before a number of former, and perhaps current, politicians are given lengthy appointments to universities (similar to the one that 'Peanuts' Molloy attended that is).
Posted by: Old Rooster | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 12:53 PM
The Australian is spot on. One wonders how they have the gall to take these "appointments" and how low the universities have sunk to award them to these academically deficient people.
Of real concern is that while Professor Gillard was advancing the "Education Revolution" as Minister and Prime Minister for the past 7 years, a COAG committee has found 27% of young people aged between 17-24 are neither working or studying.
This is a recipe for absolute disaster for the crime, poverty and social unrest that will follow. Here comes the perfect storm of social dysfunction that will result in more crime, more fear and more need for repressive police action.
While the ALP and its union cronies have been stealing and feathering their own nests and supping champagne their constituency has been consigned to the garbage heap. Gillard has been exposed as a hollow incompetent, "wacko" liar.
For all time they will be branded by the likes of Carr and his "special comfort requests" whilst Foreign Minister. Long may these despicable people live in infamy and disgrace. Let us not forget Obeid, Thomson and the Victorian ALP water grantsters.
The new leader, Shorten, typifies the ugly face of the union dominated ALP as a person whose physical attributes and mannerisms turn him into a caricature of the sleazy, greedy grasping politician that we are becoming used to. They get worse as one rummages through the caucus.
There may be a lesson in the tragedy of the ALP for the coalition as well.
Posted by: Max1 | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 01:05 PM
No, they get accommodation, phones, secretarial assistance and a base to work from. Their indexed pensions, boards and consultancies more than compensate them for the odd "talk" to students which are rare if at all.
It is a complete nonsense.
Posted by: Lee | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 01:11 PM
I do believe those of the left or of the Gillard variety do like to put label's on things to make them feel like they are important without having to had achieved anything of great importance beforehand.
Posted by: Michelle Two | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 01:11 PM
I get very angry when I see Professorships handed out to unworthy people. My son worked hard for his PHD - on a scholarship and had to move to another state - often he lived on 2 minute noodles and had part time jobs to supplement his scholarship funds - lived in very basic apartments and really went without much in order to complete his studies. To become a "proper Professor" takes years and often the young academics wait years before receiving such a position.
Some of those listed in the newspaper article are worthy of "Hon Professorships" but most don't deserve the title or the honour and Julia would top the list of undeserving.
Posted by: Jenny | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 01:43 PM
Michael - two university professors sitting stark naked on a sunny balcony, discussing life, philosophy and the world in general.
Professor no.1: "Have you read Marx?"
Professor no.2: "Sure have. This cane furniture is murder!"
Posted by: JohnL | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 01:44 PM
Of that published list I can probably wear Hewson and Hill (one might observe neither is exactly hard right) but for the rest it varies from 'Who?' to 'So when do I get one? Is it bottle caps or box tops you have to collect?'
Posted by: Old Rooster | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 01:45 PM
I thought the same thing - I wonder how much he paid for his. At least he didn't use our money!
Posted by: Granny | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 02:22 PM
"Gold Coast's Bond University, which bestowed the honorary accolade of "adjunct professor" on Mr Palmer in recognition of "goodwill, positive endeavours and support" of the institution, rather than any academic prowess, wants him to stop misusing the privilege. The edict comes amid complaints from other senior academics who earned their stripes after long years of study."
"University spokeswoman Terri Fellowes said: "We have clearly communicated to Mr Palmer the appropriate use of academic titles ... we are confused ourselves as to why Mr Palmer and other parties make continual reference to him as Professor Palmer."
Posted by: Jay | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 03:31 PM
Michael - awarding honorary professorships and honorary doctorates to selected retired politicians is always going to be contentious. People will inevitably argue about whether recipients are, or are not, deserving of the award. And so, I would like to suggest an alternative scheme - a scheme that would generate far less debate.
On leaving office (via retirement or via election loss) and provided they have been in office for at least five years, EVERY ex-politician will be awarded an honorary doctorate AND an honorary professorship from the university closest to his/her place of residence.
Ex-politicians who have served in office for less than five years can choose between being awarded an honorary Masters degree or an honorary associate professorship.
Honorary doctorates and honorary professorships would thus become normal perks of office - much like gold travel passes or Cab Charge vouchers. These perks would become so prevalent (and so debased status-wise) that people would then recognise them for the worthless artefacts they are, and not give them a second thought.
And for those persons who might be a little confused about the difference between a professor and an associate professor, it's quite simple - a professor has higher status and possesses a "chair" in something or other. An associate professor, on the other hand, has lesser status, and would not possess a "chair" as these are reserved only for professors. Although it is possible that an associate professor might possess a "lesser" piece of furniture such as a " foot stool".
Posted by: JohnL | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 05:24 PM
I was wondering if an honorary professorship could be revoked.
I might have found an answer to my own query with this paper -
THE USE OF THE TITLE ‘PROFESSOR’
A report of the policies, conventions and practices among Australian higher education providers
Dr Kelly Farrell - August 2009
"As noted previously, the adjunct/conjoint title is conferred when a person is deemed to have a ‘special relationship’ with an institution. The authority to use the title extends to the end of the appointment (usually three years), but may also be revoked
earlier should it be deemed that this ‘special relationship’ is no longer in place."
Let's hope that the University of Adelaide will revoke Gillard's professorship when the AWU revelations in Court spoil that special relationship. Other than that, we will have to wait 'til the three years have elapsed and the honorary position will not be renewed.
Posted by: seeker of truth | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 06:13 PM
Until the calamitous ALP Dawkins reforms each university department (usually) comprised a Professor, a Reader(s), Senior Lecturers, Lecturers and Tutors. A professor headed the department and the remainder, in varying numbers, were the main teaching staff. Chairs were few and the holders usually prestigious people. Readers were prestigious but not quite the "God- Professor" as they were sometimes called.
A few academics were awarded "Personal Chairs" based on outstanding service as a member of a university department, and these were scarce.
Now every politician seems to wants the title. I am not sure when the "Honorary" and "Adjunct" rot set in but this seems to be a method of attracting some cheap labour from professionals (lawyers, medicos etc), and "names" to hopefully attract funds and the like.
The Adelaide Uni Gillard experiment would be directed at the slush funds/ taxpayer money able to accessed or rorted by Ludwig, Shorten, Howes and O'Connor of the CFMEU.
The status of a University professor has like everything the ALP touches been devalued and trashed.
Remember Professor Tim Flannery? Now, there is the grotesque appointment of the man who made Eddie Obeid to Sydney University: Professor Bob Carr; teaching no doubt a course in Ethics in Government.
What absolute nonsense.
Posted by: Stanley | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 06:38 PM
Most pollies profess to have brains, as they are wrong in that assumption they are eminently unqualified to become professors.
Posted by: john greybeard | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 06:53 PM
I understand that the University of Adelaide has a $100 million "stool".
Inflation is a killer.
Once upon a time, it took a mere 30 pieces of silver to tempt somebody to sell their soul. In Adelaide these days, the going price is 100 large.
Posted by: Up The Workers! | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 07:40 PM
So does that make her Professor Fraud or a fraudulent Professor?
Posted by: Colleen | Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 10:25 PM
You might be mistaken here, JG. As a university academic myself, I often find myself having to defend the colleagues I work with. Why, only the other day, someone suggested to me that university professors don't have the brains of a donkey. But I stood up for professors and said that they did!
Posted by: JohnL | Thursday, 31 October 2013 at 01:05 AM
I admire your loyalty but I assume the donkeys have a range of brain power like most other species and you were not referring to the top end of the scale.
In one of my 'mid-career' studies I had the pleasure of attending the classes of two Doctors of Education holding the tenured posts of Senior Lecturer. One of them once remarked to me "John, in America your job would entitle you to the title of Professor. In America the only people who call themselves Professor are those without a real Doctorate."
Posted by: john greybeard | Thursday, 31 October 2013 at 09:03 AM