A Requiem for AcademicsBreaking News
tags: obituaries, higher education, coronavirus, COVID-19
One of the professors was a famous artist who transformed and raised the profile of African American art. Another spent decades steeped in the art of making music. The third gentleman was more focused on the art of the deal, or the business of professional selling.
They traveled different paths in life, but they shared a sad fate -- all three died recently from health complications related to COVID-19, the latest victims of the pandemic that has already caused so much upheaval in American higher ed....
James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, noted that older academics tend to have worked with more people in different disciplines and at different institutions and to have served on advisory and academic committees. They've also more likely to have mentored younger colleagues, or worked with people from very different geographical or social backgrounds, or from different types of institutions or in various stages of their careers.
"Academics tend not to do that work until they’re established," he says. So when they die, "you’re losing these networking roles and interstitial activity, people who work at the interstices of different disciplines and different types of institutions. You’re losing the benefit of years of networking. It's a terrible thing to lose. These are the people who are both the bridges and the glue of not just institutions, but all sorts of identification that people have. The longer you’re around, the more networks you have -- you're not only the person building bridges but someone who is the bridge -- and the more you can hold an institution and people together, that’s the glue.
"It’s not just the notion that you’re losing a senior scholar, you’re also losing these related functions, and that's bad for the disciplines and bad for the institutions."
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