Rel Ed Faculty Who Fail to Launch

There is a curious rash of legitimate PhD holding, BYU Rel Ed faculty whose professional and intellectual development essentially culminated in their dissertations. This represents wastage of time and resources, both on the side of top flight training left fallow and, more disturbingly, vast expenditures of university monies, benefits, research funds, etc., to leave the sunk costs to students to the side in this discussion.

Rel Ed faculty with BYU’s version of tenure make, on the very low end, $80,000 per year, and many are near, over, or well past the $100,000 mark, plus excellent benefits. In the academic world, that is very good pay. Of course the constant churn of popular books and materials augments these numbers still further. Rel Ed faculty are very well remunerated.

But what is the university getting for all that expenditure on purported experts in their fields? In the case of several, the university is paying for what amounts to outdated knowledge, expertise level that is no higher than a newly minted PhD, refusal to participate in the standards of professional organizations, and inevitable atrophying of language, critical, writing, and research skills that should increase over a career, not begin to gather rust upon the PhD hooding ceremony.

I’m sure that colleagues in other BYU colleges and departments must be annoyed if not furious with these free-loading Rel Ed professors. Do you think that business school professors are granted tenure or promoted to full professor based upon Ensign articles, a Sperry Symposium paper included in an annual collection, and maybe a handful of BYU Studies publications? I’m sure if we looked closely we could find two professors, one in a normal department, one in Rel Ed, that graduated with legit PhDs in more or less the same year and compare their professional development. That would be instructive.

Here are some puzzling cases of BYU Rel Ed faculty who are pulling down enviable salaries and who were trained at premier graduate programs but have done nothing or next to nothing in their professional fields since their dissertations 10, 15, 20 years ago.

OK, who makes the list? Daniel Belnap, Frank Judd, Eric Huntsman, Kent Jackson (now retired), and Gaye Strathearn are first round ballots from the ancient scripture side. Who else? List anyone that comes to mind in the comments, and if you are aware of publications by these scholars in their respective fields since they completed their PhDs then that is likewise helpful. It would make everyone’s lives easier if they all posted academic CVs to their faculty profiles, but here we are.

2 Replies to “Rel Ed Faculty Who Fail to Launch”

  1. I think one has to keep in mind that these individuals work in an environment that does not incentivize the type of scholarly output you are expecting. In fact, the Dept. of Religious Ed in all probability actively discourages such scholarly publication. Keep in mind the dept. is not a religious STUDIES dept, but a religious EDUCATION dept. It is natural for individuals to produce work that is expected of them and that leads to raises and promotion. Those that have degrees in biblical studies have to be careful, because the critical methods they learned in their top-flight educations are looked on suspiciously by many of their colleagues in the Rel Ed. Dept. Decades ago a friend of mine said that the dept. of rel. ed was a place of rabid anti-intellectualism. It sounds like not much has changed. So by all means fault the system, but have some understanding for those who work within that system.

  2. Let’s give some credit to those who have earned it. Prime example: Lincoln Blumell. Dude has published so much it is crazy to consider. Serious kudos to him in this regard. There are others, but that guy is making those named in this post look more than a little silly.

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