Thursday, November 23, 2017

Response to Healthy Eph & ABL

Not once did anyone in the political science department at Williams College say to me that I was expected to publish anything in the 1.5 years between when I finished my dissertation and when they made their decision to take me off the tenure track.
I remember I was told by the department chair, Raymond Baker, that the problem was the quality of my thesis. This is why winning the Williams Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association was such an incredibly significant moment in my life. This award provided independent confirmation that the tenured faculty in the department – at least that portion of the tenured faculty who voted against me – were dead wrong or more likely deceitful in their assessment of my work.
If Baker had told me that I was taken off the tenure track because I hadn’t yet published an article, I would have remembered that statement and winning the Williams Anderson Award would not be such a thrilling, empowering turning point in my life. In fact, I might not refer to myself as an award-winning political scientist at all (which started when I first got on Twitter) if I had been taken off the tenure track for simply not publishing an article.
The reality of my situation as a young scholar is that Baker and his allies were gas lighting me, trying to make me think that denying me an opportunity to compete for tenure was my fault, the repercussions of perhaps doing a poor job in researching my thesis, or for picking a less significant topic, or for not adding more quantitative analysis to support my theory.
In retrospect, I think it is beyond question that the tenured faculty who sought to separate me from the school were motivated entirely by the facts that 1) I was a consistent and reliable vote against all of their affirmative action hires and 2) I was responsible for empowering a growing, conservative, Republican student base, a base which was also opposed to affirmative action hires.
(Baker himself requested that I no longer vote on the hiring decisions after I was taken off the tenure track. I refused.)
The present political science department and the college are still scarred by the decisions it made regarding me almost 30 years ago. The political science department is radically unbalanced and does not contain a single Republican or conservative. There is little to no active Republican or conservative student activity on campus. Not one of the department’s current assistant professors is a white male political scientist. Weak minority and female assistant professors – mainly in the non-quantitative field of political theory – have dragged down the quality and prestige of the department.
As far as I know, there is absolutely no one in the department (tenured or not) who has shown – as a young scholar – a more precocious skill and ability to do creative, original, game-changing work in political science.
My thesis helped inspire a renaissance of scholarship on the Progressive Era mother’s pensions programs and changed the way we think of the causes of welfare programs in our country. It is still cited by contemporary scholars. It is a telling, historically significant hint of what a powerful and intellectually exciting place Williams College might have been if it rewarded excellence over diversity.

Response to ABL

Aren’t you getting tired of attacking me with your uninformed, misguided, undocumented comments and idle speculation? You are boring me and a lot of folks at Ephblog. Nevertheless…
1. About Cornell: I was a graduate student at Cornell University. I never applied to teach there. My peers and professors at Cornell University were deeply impressed with my academic achievements including the fact that I got hired at Williams College on the basis of my M.A. thesis proposal.
2. Unusual Circumtances: As far as I know, no one at Williams College has ever taken off the tenure track before or since. Normally, all assistant professors are given a fair opportunity to compete for tenure. I was not.
3. Academic Productivity: I was quite productive at Williams College and routinely had papers accepted in multiple panels at the APSA annual conference and other regional conferences. I had taken substantial action toward publishing my thesis by submitted my book proposal to a number of high quality academic publishers who were interested in political science works with a historical focus. I had also received instructions from the publishers on what changes needed to be made to turn my thesis into a book.
4. Book Potential: Ironically, my thesis was so good that it was eventually published – as book chapters – almost in its entirety with virtually no changes at all. It was so good that it is still cited by contemporary scholars.
5. Knowledge of My Ideology: No one in the department knew that I was a conservative when I interviewed for an assistant professor job. I only changed my party registration to Republican in the the Spring of 1988. The decision to take me off the tenure track was made about nine months later.
6. Initial Hiring: I was not the department’s first choice for the assistant professor position. They initially offered the job to a female candidate who ended up accepting another offer. Since I was second in line, I was offered the job. I have no doubt that the department went to great lengths to avoid hiring me in the first place simply because I was a straight white male.
7. History of Discrimination: As far as I can tell, there is no one in the department today who is a registered Republican and no one who is a vocal critic of affirmative action, a key center piece of conservative ideology. Not a single one of the current assistant professors in the department is a white male political scientist. I think it is perfectly obvious that the department has a history of discriminating against young white men and of providing black females with unprecedented opportunities and advantages.

I hope my comments satisfy your curiosity, answer your sincere questions, and bring this discussion to an appropriate end. Happy Thanksgiving.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I'm Only Here Because _____: Reviewing the Assistant Professors of PSCI at Williams College

I had fun looking at the faculty in my old political science department at Williams College. It was interesting to compare my achievements to the latest group of young assistant professors. I did this as part of a larger effort to understand the damage caused by affirmative action and outright discrimination against conservative Republican scholars.

I’m most interested in comparing my case to that of the four young assistant professors. I was hired as a tenure track assistant professor at age 29 in the Fall of 1986, I finished my Ph.D. in the Spring of 1987. I was taken off the tenure track a year and a half later, in early 1989, supposedly because of the low quality of my doctoral dissertation. Over the summer of 1989, however, the American Political Science Association awarded me the William Anderson Award for my thesis.

In retrospect, I think that the tenured faculty members who said my research was not up to Williams College standards did not even read my spectacular, award-winning thesis.

At any rate, I thought it would be useful to go over the current crop of young assistant professors in the political science department at Williams College to see how their accomplishments stack up against mine at a similar point in my foreshortened political science career. In general, their accomplishments seem to be embarrassingly non-existent, or modest, or else - as in the case of Mason B. Williams - brilliant but widely off target.

Lacking genuine accomplishment of great merit, these young professors have been picked apparently because they offer a contribution to the cherished ideal of ideologically consistent social diversity. They are each in a position to say that they are only at William College because...

I'm Only Here Because I'm Black 

For comparison, let’s first look at the black female assistant professor, Nimu Njoya. She started at Williams College in 2011
Assistant Professor
Nimu Njoya
about a year after she completed her Ph.D. in 2010. Curiously, she started out spending two years as a visiting professor, a non-tenure track position. Then, in 2013, she was hired as an assistant professor which is a tenure track position. This is about three years after finishing her dissertation.
To be fair, she shows she has published two articles so far. One in 2010 and one in 2017. She published a book chapter in 2013. As far as I can tell, she has no books to her credit. I googled her full name and could find no achievements that would be the equivalent of an article published in the American Political Science Review or a dissertation honored by the American Political Science Association
If you are comparing her to me, I think it would be fair to say that she had a lot of advantages in that she started at Williams after her thesis was complete, she spent two years at Williams as a visiting professor, and only got on to the tenure track in 2013 which is about three years after she completed her dissertation. 
I think it is fair to say that her story is a good example of the great things that can happen for a young scholar at Williams College if they really are the right sex, race and ideology.
Assistant Professor
Laura D. Ephraim

I'm Only Here Because I'm a Woman

Laura D. Ephraim is the other female assistant professor in the political science department. Like Nimu Njoya, she is a political theorist who finished her doctoral dissertation in 2010 too. Reportedly, she is a 39 years old, single Democrat.
She started as an assistant professor at Williams College in 2012 or about two years after she completed her thesis at age 34. To her credit, she does have a new book which came out in November 2017 called Who Speaks for Nature?: On the Politics of Science. It was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
This would be about five years into her experience as an assistant professor and about seven years after the completion of her thesis.
As far as I can tell the topic of her book appears to be identical to the work she completed in her doctoral dissertation which was focused on “tracing the influence of rhetorical sensibilities upon dominant understandings of ‘science’ among early-modern political thinkers.”
Ironically, I was the same age as Dr. Ephraim is now, 39, when my doctoral dissertation was published. 

I'm Only Here Because I'm a Man of Color

The third assistant professor is Matthew Tokeshi. He graduated from Berkeley in 2006 and took about ten years to
Assistant Professor
Matthew Tokeshi
earn a Ph.D. in 2016. He does have, as far as I can tell, a single publication, an article he wrote with the help of one of his political science professors at Princeton, Tali Mendelberg. He was Mendelberg’s teaching assistant in 2013. You can see the article here:
Unlike Ephraim or Njoya, it is pretty easy to find a CV for Tokeshi on line at I’m guessing he is about 31 or two years older than I was when I started as an assistant professor at Williams College.
It is fascinating to read his biography when he started at Williams College in 2016:
My work has won two American Political Science Association awards: the Timothy Cook Award given to the best paper presented by a graduate student on political communication and the best paper on race, ethnicity, and politics (honorable mention).
I received my Ph.D. in politics and social policy from Princeton in 2016. I’m originally from the Los Angeles area and hold a B.A. in political science and psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, but I have lived on the East Coast (Brooklyn, NY or Princeton, NJ) for the last ten years.
Outside of political science, I enjoy cooking, traveling, sports, and playing with my dog Calvin, a cuddly 12-pound terrier mix.
I finding amazing that he won a section level award as a graduate student named after the late Timothy Cook who was the Williams College colleague who was perhaps most openly hostile to me while I was at the school. I should point out that he is exaggerating a bit in his biography because the Timothy Cook Award is actually a minor level section award (there are about 47 different sections) and it is a stretch to suggest it is a genuine American Political Science Association level award. This award is also quite limited in its scope. It goes to the graduate student who wrote the best paper on the topic of political communications at the previous year’s APSA Annual Meeting.

Nevertheless, Dr. Tokeshi seems to be a much stronger candidate that the two female assistant professors. He is certainly doing more of what we traditionally think of as political science work. It will be fun to watch his career develop.

I'm Only Here Because I'm Not Really a Political Scientist

Finally, it is fascinating to review the credentials of the fourth assistant professor, Mason B. Williams. He’s the white guy, a
Assistant Professor
Mason B. Williams
native of West Virginia. He became an assistant professor at Williams College in 2017 and he seems to be something of a prodigy. His accomplishments clearly speak for themselves:
B.A. Princeton University, History (2006)
M.A. Columbia University, History (2009)
Ph.D. Columbia University, History (2012)
My research focuses on the intersection of political economies and democratic politics. My first book, City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York (New York: Norton, 2013), examines the relationship between progressive reform in New York City and the national New Deal. It received the Bancroft Dissertation Prize and was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review. My next book, City of Fortune: Urban Democracy in the Age of Inequality, examines the political economy of affluent cities (especially New York, but also London and San Francisco) in the late 20th century. It will also be published by W.W. Norton.
I’m also working on two edited volumes: Political History Unbound: Governance and Citizenship in 20th Century America (with Brent Cebul and Lily Geismer); and Protest, Politics, and Ideas in the American Century: Essays in Honor of Alan Brinkley (with David Greenberg and Moshik Temkin).
Some shorter essays/features:
“Warnings from the Age of Marble,” The Atlantic (2015).
“53 Historians Weigh In on Obama’s Legacy,” New York Magazine (2015).
“What Made the Roosevelts the Roosevelts?” The New Republic (2014).

Like Dr. Njoya it appears that Dr. Williams started out as a visiting assistant professor. He started at Williams College in 2014 which is about two years after finishing his doctoral dissertation and after his first book was already published, Curiously, he is a liberal, pro-Obama history guy with apparently no training in political science. I suppose this means that even though he is an extremely talented white guy, he will never really rise to a position of dominance within a political science department.

I should point out that the Bancroft Dissertation Prize is given by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for outstanding Columbia dissertations in American History (including biography), diplomacy, or international affairs. The award carries a publication subsidy of $7,500, transferable to a press of the winner’s choice. It would be the equivalent to being the best doctoral student within your own graduate school.

All in all, I guess what is so depressing about this investigation is that among the current crop of assistant professors at Williams College there isn't a single young white male political scientist. Not one at all.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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