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March 08, 2016

Outspoken Wisconsin professor coming to Temple

Educator coming to North Philly after tenure battle

Education Temple
Sara Goldrick-Rab Sara Goldrick-Rab/Twitter

Sara Goldrick-Rab is coming to teach at Temple University.

A controversial professor at the University of Wisconsin is leaving her job to teach at Temple after a battle over tenure.

In a blog post Monday night, Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of education policy and sociology, announced she would be joining the North Philadelphia university in July.

She slammed her soon-to-be former employer; specifically, she explained that Governor Scott Walker's erosion of tenure protections at state colleges pushed her toward the decision.

Goldrick-Rab also said the university’s culture no longer respected "outspoken faculty" like herself. Some of her more headline-grabbing remarks include: discouraging incoming freshman from attending the school and comparing Walker to Hitler, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

In her announcement, Goldrick-Rab praised Temple as an institution that promotes diversity and the public interest, again taking the opportunity to criticize her employer. From her post on Medium:

A desire to be closer to the students whose lives I study, in an institution clearly committed to 21st century public university goals, protected by both tenure and a thriving union, led me to Temple University. Fully 35 percent of the more than 28,000 undergraduates Temple enrolls receive the Pell Grant, and 43 percent are students of color (including 13 percent African-American). In contrast, while UW-Madison educates a very similar number of undergraduates, just 15 percent of them receive Pell and just 24 percent are students of color (including 2 percent African-American). This year’s Big Read author Bryan Stevenson spoke of the importance of being proximate to the people we seek to serve: “When we get close, we hear things that can’t be heard from afar. We see things that can’t be seen. And sometimes that makes the difference between acting justly and injustly.”

She goes on to praise other aspects of Temple, such as the university's decision to go test-optional and commitments to staying accessible and affordable.

High praise for the state-affiliated university, indeed. However, one part of Goldrick-Rab's post concerning athletics stands out:

It can be hard to act justly while on the payroll of a public flagship that places a higher priority on prestige (e.g. meaning nonresidents and high test scores) and Big 10 football than on access and affordability.

It will certainly be interesting to see the professor's reaction to a proposed $100 million football stadium in North Philly that's received intense backlash from the neighboring community.

For now, however, it seems Goldrick-Rab is happy to start her new job at Temple.