Physics professor Paul Frampton of UNC Chapel Hill is sitting in an Argentine jail, busted for trying to smuggle out 2 kilos of cocaine, but that hasn’t stopped him from asking for a raise on his $107,000 annual salary - raise as in he wants it doubled.
Hey, he has tenure. And a lot of citations.
Frampton is in a spat with the school because he says they are improperly withholding his salary. They contend his being in an Argentine prison cell for virtually all of this year means he can't possibly be doing any work, even for a tenured professor.
Life is never so simple. The school has to endure a faculty grievance process, even for something obvious. Oddly, they are likely to lose unless the committee violates its own school rules and even if he loses it would go to a chancellor and then go to court - it's difficult to not be paid when you are entrenched in a public university. Frampton has not yet been convicted and, he notes, only 30 theoretical particle physicists in the world have had their work cited over 8,000 times in research publications. 7 of those are at public universities where their salaries are public and those salaries range $203,000 to $532,000, according to Jay Price at the Charlotte Observer. Given all those facts, he wants more money.
Why is he in jail? Smuggling cocaine in his suitcase. He says he flew to Argentina to meet a young bikini model he talked to on the Internet - the Internet is the perfect place for 68-year-old men to meet bikini models from other countries, everyone knows that. But, surprise, they never met after he arrived and he then says he got duped into carrying a suitcase with cocaine in it by some guy there. Yes, this is one of the best theoretical minds in the world, by his own reckoning - that must be why experimental physicists make fun of these guys. If his story is true, that general cluelessness about culture is why President Obama getting the endorsement of a bunch of Nobel laureates again isn't going to sway any votes among the voting public. He is lucid enough to make his case about getting paid more money but still got psychologists to determine that, in his 68th year of life, he has acquired a 'schizoid' personality disorder which gives him poor judgment, and so he says his story about being duped into carrying cocaine in an empty suitcase he got from some guy in a foreign country is plausible. The school should be compassionate. He has a disease.
This is the same school that dropped the term 'freshman' in 2009, in order to replace it with more 'gender inclusive terms' for first-year students, so they are nothing if not mindful of the latest progressive sociological woo.
Back to the reason he went into academia - the money. He says he is the most cited author in his department but ranks 18th out of 28 in pay and even makes less than an associate professor in the group. Writing Science Left Behind, Alex Berezow and I had to address the shocking lack of diversity in faculty and tenure-track jobs at American schools; not representation and outreach for women, academia is downright Utopian for women compared to the climate for conservatives and handicapped people, who are obviously blocked out. The rationalization for why there is so little political diversity in the last 25 years is instead that it is a 'choice' and non-left people choose to do corporate jobs because of more money. When $107,000 is 18th in one department at one public school, people are not absent from academia because of the money.
Who is on his side? Other professors obviously. If you can be in an Argentinian jail for 9 months and still get paid, it will be downright revolutionary for other professors who want to jet off to foreign countries and meet their own bikini models and maybe 'telecommute' for a year or two. Frampton contends he can work just as hard from an Argentinian jail as he ever did; he can 'think' and then give students advice over the telephone and still get his name put on papers.
That's probably true.
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