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Lynch Leaving

Sad to read that Porfessor Marc Lynch is leaving Williams. Any Eph watching Marc’s stellar academic career unfold has been dreading that this day might come. Indeed, the main surprise is that Marc is not (yet?) moving to a higher tier university than George Washington. Is there anything that Williams could have done to keep him? Is there anything that Williams can do to keep the next Marc Lynch from leaving? Hard questions. Perhap Marc can provide some informed commentary.

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#1 Comment By Anonymous On March 28, 2007 @ 8:56 am

Kane,

How are you defining higher tier university? Prof. Lynch is going to be part of highly respected IR faculty and a new Middle East center. It appears to be an incredible opportunity, especially given his focus on the Middle East and Int’l Security. Similar to when Prof. Jacobsohn left to help start the a Comparitive Constitutionalism department at UT.

US News and World Report rankings aren’t everything.

#2 Comment By Anonymous On March 28, 2007 @ 9:38 am

I hear he decided to leave because of the increasing problems with the high school.

Just kidding.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On March 28, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

Lynch’s blog entry seems pretty clear:

GW offers a near perfect combination for me. It’s a first rate academic institution, with great strengths in International Relations and International Security. I’ll be closely involved in a brand new Middle East Center launching next year. GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs is strong in the area of public diplomacy (Alberto Fernandez will be in residence next year). And, of course, it’s in Washington DC, which – housing market aside – is a phenomenally exciting place for the kind of work that I do.

Williams isn’t: 1) a research university 2) with a Middle East institute 3) and a media studies center 4) in a vibrant city. Williams has many admirable qualities, but will always fall short on the urban environment / research capacity front. How much more informed commentary do you want from him?

#4 Comment By Aidan On March 28, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

maybe if teacher salaries at MGRHS were more market based…

#5 Comment By David On March 28, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

How are you defining higher tier university?

How much more informed commentary do you want from him?

1) There is no clear definition of “higher tier university”, but if you don’t think that 99% of imformed observers would describe Princeton as being higher tier than GW, you don’t know what you are talking about.

2) I want more detailed commentary on the decision itself. I don’t want Marc to badmouth Williams, but all Ephs should be concerned when someone of Marc’s ability leaves Williams. The College would have been much better off if he had stayed. Did the College try to induce him to stay? Did it offer him a named chair or more money or more research support? Of course, there is no star system at Williams (although I sure do wish the College would pay Marc as much, say, as it pays Professor Joy James).

Was there something that the College could have done which might have made Marc decide to stay? Was there something that the College can do so that, going forward, the next Marc Lynch (nominations welcome!) does not leave Williams for GW?

#6 Comment By PTC On March 28, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

Does he have kids? Is part of his reason for leaving our public ed system?

Also, in DC, he can be involved in policy… Williamstown,not so much.

#7 Comment By Anonymous On March 28, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

Oh, and Williams isa college, not a University.

#8 Comment By rory On March 28, 2007 @ 6:36 pm

David, you know you won’t get more comments from anyone involved. Lynch’s reasons for leaving should not be broadcasted in detail to the public. Who knows how that will affect his career. Nor would Williams be smart for telling us what they did or did not offer Lynch. Its in everyone’s best interest, except for third parties not involved like you and I, to stay quiet. And it isn’t that much of a concern that there is faculty turnover, honestly. That’s what happens, the key is to identify faculty who will become the nxt Lynch (or Wilder, to pick the professor departure that stung the most when I was at school. I still miss him!). And, being a liberal arts college–even the best–we all know that professors interested in research will. in all likelihood, eventually be wooed away by the larger resources pools, larger departments, grad student RAs, and focus on research that a school like GW can offer over Williams. That’s the reason why the best professors aren’t all at williams–because a lot of them want to do their research. why do you act like this is a surprise or that you need to know the details of the offer and counteroffer as though it won’t fit that narrative? If it would have cost Williams hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, maybe we wouldn’t have been better with Lynch staying (not that I don’t think he’s wonderful, but to compete with hte resources of a GW, that might be impossible). And if Williams were to always match offers, our professors would not only have a perverse incentive to constantly be on the market but also to focus on research (that’s what gets you interesting to the wealthy universities) instead of teaching and research. Sometimes, you have to say goodbye.

Next: there is no star system at williams? what?

Next: Why am I not surprised that the professor you picked to point out in comparison is none other than Joy James of the Africana Studies department? Why her, David, instead of the many other political science professors you could have picked (she is a joint position, I’ll grant)? It was no random pick.

#9 Comment By Anonymous On March 28, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

“Of course, there is no star system at Williams (although I sure do wish the College would pay Marc as much, say, as it pays Professor Joy James).”

David, do you have any idea how much the college pays Professor James? Do you have any idea how much they offered to pay Professor Lynch? If not, this comment is foolish.

#10 Comment By Neal On March 28, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

…hire Dan Drezner!

#11 Comment By Anonymous On March 28, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

I’m sure that Williams made a generous counter-offer to Lynch. The best way of securing a raise in the academy is to receive an offer from a peer institution (or better). The pay rates at top private universities is almost entirely dictated by competition over professors and Williams is no exception.

Of course, David’s complaints in this matter ring hollow since he is on the record as being against high salaries for professors. More specifically, he thinks Williams professors should only be paid the national average for college professors.

#12 Comment By David On March 29, 2007 @ 3:46 am

So much to discuss!

1) Rory, claiming the ability to read my mind, writes:

Why am I not surprised that the professor you picked to point out in comparison is none other than Joy James of the Africana Studies department? Why her, David, instead of the many other political science professors you could have picked (she is a joint position, I’ll grant)? It was no random pick.

If you are so sure that she is not a random pick, then please explain to all our loyal readers why I picked her.

I think that Professor James is the best analogue here. If you disagree, suggest a better. Williams was able to pay James enough to get her to leave a tenured position at Brown. When was the last name the College lured away a tenured Ivy League professor? They don’t come cheap. I have no first hand information on James’s salary — and the College enticed her not just, or even primarily, with salary but with money/power to build the new Africana Studies department. I would be surprised if James’s salary was less than $125k; perhaps, it is high enough to appear in the College’s 990 filings.

Look at the faculty in the political science department. To serve as an appropriate comparison, we need someone in the department who might, like Lynch or James, get tenure offers from places like Brown or GW. I don’t want to burn many more bridges via this discussion, but that would be a very short list indeed. Same Crane (tenured at his previous position) might qualify. A couple others as well. But there is no doubt that James works best for comparison. I realize that any time I mention Professor James, Rory assumes that I am doing so for nefarious purposes. Not this time.

The College decided that it needed someone like James and paid up to get her. (You think that she likes the snow anymore than Lynch does?) The College decided (?) that it didn’t want to pay up (more? less?) to keep Lynch. Budgets are limited and choices have consequences.

2) Anonymous claims:

I’m sure that Williams made a generous counter-offer to Lynch.

Really? I am not so sure. Unless things have changed much in the last decade, I think that this policy still holds.

Payne said the College does negotiate with professors who are considering leaving, and in some cases presents counter-offers. But he said there are limits to what can be done to retain professors, particularly in terms of increasing salaries.

“At a small college you can’t end up with a really elaborate star system,” he said. “The salaries have to be kept within a range.”

So, the College might have negotiated with Lynch, but, unless you have inside information, you can’t be sure that it made a “generous” counter-offer. Indeed, one of the things that makes me annoyed is that the College didn’t name Lynch to a named chair (higher prestige and more money) a year or two ago. That would have been a bit of a snub to his more senior colleagues, but it would have reflected the reality of his market value. Instead, the college kept him as (I think) an associate professor.

Anonymous writes:

David, do you have any idea how much the college pays Professor James? Do you have any idea how much they offered to pay Professor Lynch? If not, this comment is foolish.

As always, you don’t need to know specifics to have a general sense of market wages. Newsflash: Tenured Ivy League full professors do nicely. Assciate professors at Williams less so. Anyone with a clue would tell you that James is paid much more than Lynch this year. Did the College offer Lynch a big raise? Perhaps. But I would bet a lot of money that it was still less than the offer made to James to get her to leave Brown.

#13 Comment By Anonymous On March 29, 2007 @ 9:27 am

Best quote from Kane’s 1/22/04 post complaining about prof. salaries at Williams being to high and claiming that the market is a bad mechanism for setting them (“It is not clear to me that the “market” is a meaningful construct with which to consider faculty salaries at Williams.”):

“After all, Williams wants to attract and retain the best professors, the faculty is the most important resource for current and future students, the College has a significant endowment, blah, blah, blah.”

As is so often the case, Kane will completely reverse his position depending on his particular point of annoyance at the time.

As for James’s salary, I have no doubt that it’s substantial (and higher than Lynch’s was), but Brown is not Harvard or Yale in terms of its endowment. In fact, it has barely more than Williams and it’s a university with a medical school. We’re not talking about getting Skip Gates from Harvard here.

#14 Comment By rory On March 29, 2007 @ 9:59 am

David,

You do it again, either consciously or unconsciously in your post defending your pick of James as comparison:

Newsflash: Tenured Ivy League full professors do nicely. Assciate professors at Williams less so. Anyone with a clue would tell you that James is paid much more than Lynch this year.

So…James is a poor comparison, considering she is a senior faculty member with a named chair, and Lynch an associate professor. The cases are, basically, apples and oranges. And I was being overly nice with you in limiting the pool to political science…include basically all the social sciences (except perhaps econ). She was hired to build a department/program. apples, meet oranges.

why do you pick her? Because you’ve had beef with her hiring and academic interests for a while. To wit:
http://www.ephblog.com/2006/01/27/Job-Openings/
http://www.ephblog.com/2006/09/29/Africana-Studies/
http://www.ephblog.com/2005/05/03/Incarceration-Studies/
http://www.ephblog.com/2006/09/28/Durham-in-Wonderland/

So, no, its not a randomized pick. Williams has hired other faculty that you could have used. But Africana Studies and Joy James have been on your talking point list for a long time. That’s why its not random.