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Rabkin's Fallout

While I never crossed paths with Professor Rabkin ’74 during my time on the Hill, I have many friends who spoke highly of his teaching style and his intellect. It’s disappointing that Cornell has lost a loyal and esteemed alumnus in this fashion.

To those who think that ideology or university politics were at play: Sure, it’s fair to speculate, but I’ll simply point to Rabkin’s own belief that he was “not the victim of some partisan conspiracy against me” and the chair of the government department’s claim that she “followed the same procedures” with Rabkin’s departure as she does with everybody else.

This leads us to Rabkin’s assertion that Cornell is not well prepared to respond to outside offers to senior faculty, a recurring issue for the University. This makes sense, especially in light of Tim Vogelsang’s departure last year, and the Provost’s recent comments on how Cornell has to succeed at “doing more with less”.

Cornell has always been a school where stellar faculty members are developed, and some—like Richard Feynman or John Rawls—unfortunately move on. But the ability to retain top researchers and teachers in the field is paramount to the long-term success of our Alma Mater, and is one of the major motives of the capital campaign.

In fact, explicitly mentioned in the “Case for Cornell” is the bold goal: To achieve top-ten ranking in the fields of economics, sociology, and government. But to put it bluntly, such a position is unachievable as long as top faculty like Vogelsang and Rabkin continue to find more appealing offers outside of Ithaca.

So I wish Rabkin all of the best at George Mason. But, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the capital campaign will be massively successful and the University will be able to recruit Rabkin back to East Hill one day. Besides, I trust that Rabkin will soon be missing Cornell’s loyal alumni base and energetic student body.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on March 21, 2007 (#)

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