Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Professor Jones

Well, it’s about time. 

On January 16th the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declared tenure-track faculty to be an endangered species in North America.  According to FWS Deputy Director Greg Sheehan, “the decrease in the percentage of full-time faculty that are tenured or tenure-track has reached a point where extinction is a distinct possibility if ameliorative action is not taken soon.”

As a first step, FWS is collaborating with the Harvard Museum of Natural History to display eight tenured Ivy League professors (one from each school) in separate diorama exhibits that can be viewed by Museum visitors.  Jane Pickering, Executive Director of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, states that “these will all be professors in excellent health — four women and four men — who will go about their daily lives in habitats constructed especially for them.”

Each diorama will consist of a small office that includes a mahogany desk, ergonomic chair, bookshelf, faded Oriental rug, personal computer, and printer, as well as wall posters of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Doris Kearns Goodwin.  A feeding station equipped with a water fountain and high-nutrition-food-pellet dispenser will be located in the corner.  Toilet facilities and sleeping quarters will occupy rooms adjoining the dioramas, not visible to visitors.

Pickering promises that “the care the professors will receive at the Museum will rival in quality what is provided to those priceless pandas at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.  We want these folks to thrive, mate, and reproduce.  Vibrant, multi-colored academic robes will be worn  by the male professors during the high-fertility wine-and-cheese season (April and May) in order to help them attract their female diorama colleagues.  Our goal is to produce at least one tenure-track baby by June 2019.  We saved the bald eagle, and we can save tenure-track faculty!”

Well said, Ms. Pickering.  Well said.