University professors have had the luxury of thinking they are influential without having any way to prove or disprove it — which means that everyone could be a big fish in their small pond. But suppose you were a university president, dean, or simply a rich donor. Could you deploy resources to attract undervalued professors and build a faculty that would punch above its salary? In other words, if Harvard is the Yankees, could you build a faculty like the Oakland A’s?
In our recent paper, a Ph.D student at Berkeley and I propose a way to measure faculty quality by counting up how many times professors are cited by other professors. This has been a controversial way to measure quality, but it is more objective than impressionistic opinions about who is smart and productive. In just a weekend, it has been downloaded at a faster rate than almost any other paper I’ve written — which may also tell you a lot about professors.