length of grad. student careers

S L Forsburg forsburg at salk.edu
Thu Aug 1 18:22:39 EST 1996

Megan wrote:
> This was a problem here recently.  They started a new admission program and
> ended up admitting more students than they were prepared to handle (they
> wanted 40 and got 70).  They let the students rotate, and there was a mad
> scramble at the end of the year when the "good labs" were full, the "ok
> labs" were full and it was only the 3rd or 4th tier labs that were available
> - this was great for smaller labs & labs in obscure departments who dont
> generally get much exposure.  Then whoever was left without a lab was asked
> to leave.  While I can understand that this had to be done, it was not
> handled well.  One friend of mine was told, "its like you are an athlete in
> a race, and you are not going to finish, so why bother starting?" 

That's really sad and very wasteful!

There are  university departments that are 
known to hire morejunior faculty than they intend to promote, 
so exactly the same thing happens, only a few years further down 
the line with even MORE invested.  Crummy, isnt
it?  This sort of internal competition is pointless 
and completely detrimental to any sort of collegiality, and builds
a lot of resentment and bitterness even if it is just for an award
or a citation, rather than to keep one's position.  
Even worse is when the decision is based on chance, or connections, 
or politics, or how well one plays the game, rather than merit.  And
all too often, merit has nothing to do with it.

Susan L Forsburg PhD
MBVL, The Salk Institute
forsburg at salk.edu

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