Sunday, February 16, 2014

An Open Letter to Nicholas Kristof

Louisiana Higher Education in Crisis

Dayne Sherman
Open Letter  
February 16, 2014

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote a somewhat inane piece on professors entering the public square. See his piece here: Professors, We Need You!

Below is my brief open letter in response:

Dear Mr. Kristof: 

I turned in a portfolio for full professor on January 15. Over the course of the past 5 years since I turned in my portfolio for tenure and promotion to associate professor, I published perhaps 200 op-eds and letters to the editor, gave many presentations on issues related to higher education, state budgets, academic freedom, healthcare, pensions, K-12 education, and the like. I was featured on the front page of several daily newspapers. I was quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Huffington Post related to my fight against guns on Louisiana college campuses. I denounced my governor in a speech delivered on the steps of the State Capitol, and the video was shown on several TV stations. (Gov. Bobby Jindal has cut 80 % of state funding from most college campus budgets since 2009, the worst cuts of any state in the USA.) 

How much of this work ended up in my promotion file this year? ZERO

I won't stop doing public service, but it is hard to recruit others in a right-to-work, deep red, higher education under siege state like my native Louisiana. The advocacy work won't count toward advancement. In fact, one of the highest paid professors on my campus said to my face that I was committing "career suicide." 

People are scared here, and it is mighty hard to blame them. We have more campuses under AAUP censure than any other state, and we are a small state. 

If I didn't have tenure, I would have already been fired. 

Please get to know what it is like in the trenches.


Dayne Sherman
Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is

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