I noted with pleasure the article in The University Record for Oct. 16 describing the recent appointment of Drs. Jami Anderson and Simon Cushing to a single, shared tenure-track position in the Department of Philosophy of the U-M-Flint.
First, I have a correction to make to the article, which declared this appointment unique at Michigan. I want to acknowledge the considerable work by faculty and administrators in Ann Arbor more than 25 years ago, when Drs. David and Ethel Jackson were appointed to a single tenure-track position in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the Medical School on the Ann Arbor campus.
Second, in the spirit of the article, it seems a good occasion to praise the many individuals who contribute to the progress being made in the academic world in accommodating couples with parallel career goals. Over the past 40 years (the extent of my personal experience as a faculty member) institutions in the United States have moved a great distance from policies molded chiefly out of fear of nepotism. In the course of several administrative roles, I have seen first-hand many solutions to challenging recruiting situations at Michigan. Many individuals in the central University administration and in the offices of deans and department chairs have worked creatively, and usually under considerable time constraint, to construct recruitment packages for pairs of individuals. In virtually all cases the efforts have worked out very well, benefiting the faculty members, their departments and the University.
The solution reached in Flint by departmental chair Charles Dunlop is a good example of what can be done under a particular set of circumstances. As described in the Record, the arrangement appears to have been quite thoroughly thought through. (The devil is in the details, as one knows.) Getting two minds for the price of one is a great deal for the University.
These and other efforts designed to recognize an evolving social reality deserve support from all of us in the academic community.
I extend my congratulations to Prof. Dunlop and his new colleagues, and wish them all the best in the coming years.
Frederick C. Neidhardt, the F. G. Novy Distinguished University Professor Emeritus