>It seems to me that such a scorecard for some professors might include:
the learning of students in his/her class, the research conducted by his/her
students, employment rate after graduation (a *shared* measure), completion
rate from programs, and citation indexes, among other things.
>What gets measured, counts, so they say. Perhaps part of the reason for
bad academic writing is that increasingly, academics are responding
(rationally) to the wrong reward system.
I'm not sure that the academy doesn't value teaching, especially these days
when the supply of unemployed or underemployed academics so far exceeds the
demand. (In the US there is a lot of public pressure to improve
undergraduate education; I'm no longer familiar with the Canadian
context,though I'm interested.) In fact excellence in teaching seems to be a
basic requirement for being hired. I can attest to this from reading MLA
advertisements and from the placement record of recent graduate students.
The best-placed students have the best teaching-evaluation records as well
as the best publication records. It seems that young academics can't very
well get hired or promoted without *both* teaching excellence and
I agree that writing textbooks, trade books, newspaper editorials, and
generalist journal articles should be valued, and I think rhet and comp is
better than lit in this respect and will remain so. But I am wary of
anti-intellectual backlash. I don't think that academic writing is any more
specialized than legal, medical, or technical writing for example. Bridging
the gap between expert and lay discourse is, in fact, a major focus of many
undergraduate professional writing courses. (By fourth year my science
students are already thoroughly indoctrinated into the jargon of their
I guess I'd like to see a lot more generalist writing without simply
reversing the current hierarchy of value.