Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Economist Outraged at Dean Zimmerman!

I just have to post this message which came across the COLS list a few minutes ago. An outraged economist is shocked to find out that environmentalist Dean Zimmerman is against logging. Even worse, he had the gall to mention his feelings to the economist who studies the topic! We all know Dean's are not allowed to have opinions, and if they are, they should never mention them. It might damage someone's self-esteem. . .

Perhaps the next letter will explain how this comment has led to punishment. How many grants has the person been refused? How many times has he not been given merit raises? How many times has his research release not been approved? How did Zimmerman ever approve the hire, if he is so discriminatory?

Just another whine from the poor, mistreated economists who can only find solace in the arms of another college!

Here is the letter:

Last week, a probationary faculty member in my department, to whom I am mentor, was dropping off some Faculty Development Grant proposals in the COLS office. He happened to run into Dean Zimmerman there.

Apparently Zimmerman, after looking at this faculty member's proposal, noted that this faculty member's previous research had to do with the way the state auctions off logging rights in the state forests. Zimmerman then called this junior faculty member a "tree killer", and then asked him whether he really "tried to published this drivel".

My mentee was shocked by what the Dean said to him about his research. I'm not shocked; I'm outraged. The Dean was 100% out of line, making prejudicial statements about a young faculty member's research, especially because the Dean's statement had nothing to do with the academic rigor of that research.

Rather, it only seems to reflect the Dean's personal view of appropriate environmental policy. And to the best of my knowledge, adhering to the Dean's political philosophies is not specified in the Faculty and Academic Staff handbook as a criterion for tenure or renewal.

My mentee's research on logging is in fact intellectually rigorous, combining auction theory with imperfect and asymmetric information, not that the Dean knows anything about either of those. And it has important policy implications for the DNR, because it shows how, by altering their bidding procedures, they can protect the state's taxpayers from being underpaid for their logging rights. Maybe the Dean considers such policy results "drivel," but I doubt our state's taxpayers would.

I'm sick and tired of Dean Zimmerman using his authority as Dean to push his own narrow policy agenda, to reward his pets, and to punish anyone that fails to kowtow to him. It's time for it to stop.

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