Sam and I were thinking about the new Indiana Jones movie. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the series or not, but it’s quite popular with the youth today. It involves the escapades of a professor of archeology who has a penchant for mischief, Nazis, and biblical artifacts.
To date, Indiana Jones has found the Ark of the Covenant, liberated a sweatshop from the clutches of Kali-Man, and imbibed from the Holy Grail. In the process he has met Hitler, avoided the wrath of God, and killed hundreds of Nazis. Though the stories are tremendously exciting, I have a serious concern with their plausibility. This problem pertains not to the plausibility of his adventures, which don’t trouble me in the least, but to one simple item of Indiana Jones’s background. Namely, who gave Indiana Jones tenure?
Now you might argue that Indiana Jones is only a visiting faculty member or a lecturer, but make no mistake. Indiana Jones is indeed a full professor at the elite Hamilton University. Considering the begrudging esteem he elicits from both his friends and enemies, as well as his academic career which spans decades, there can be no doubt that Indiana Jones is in fact tenured.
The overwhelming question, of course, is how did he achieve his lofty status?
Upon reviewing Prof. Jones’ academic record, I find it extremely hard to believe that the prestigious Hamilton University would give tenure to such an academic lightweight. Because lets face it, even if Indiana Jones has saved the real world from Nazi’s numerous times, his CV is less than compelling in the academic world.
Let’s review. In scanning the canonical requirements for tenure, we see 3 main tenets:
1. Published work
2. Esteem of peers
3. Ability to draw funding
Professor Jones clearly meets none of these requirements.
They say in academia, publish or perish. Well, it seems Prof. Jones has taken this aphorism to heart, but only in regards to the latter part. In the last few decades, he has been poisoned, brainwashed, savagely beaten, and mauled. He’s nearly lost his head, died in an airplane crash, and had his heart ripped out — both literally and metaphorically. That Nazi bitch was totally two-timing him with his dad (and Hitler).
However, during this same period, there is no mention of any publication or academic paper by Prof. Jones. And a cursory LEXIS-NEXIS query returns no results. Additionally, Prof. Jones seems to be permanently on sabbatical. Worse still, the places in which he takes his sabbaticals are not in any way, shape, or form, reputable academic institutions. But rather, they tend towards Nazi book burnings and cult hideouts in the Himalayas. As he prefers to spend his sabbaticals burning books rather than reading them, one can safely assume that his record as an author is lacking.
As for his esteem among peers, in seeing Prof. Jones on campus, it is clear he has the adoration of his pupils. He seems to be quite popular with the fairer sex and coeds often bat their eyelashes at him. However, it is important to note that teaching ability has little bearing on one’s tenure application. In fact, one could contend that his success with the fairer sex has created a fair amount of jealousy among his colleagues, especially the more curmudgeonly senior professors, who, to put it bluntly, have not aged gracefully. The image of Jones sauntering around campus with his dusty fedora, leather whip, musky scent, and masculine stare are definitely upsetting to the more traditional and grounded senior faculty.
Furthermore, Prof. Jones’s acquaintances outside of the campus are also quite scandalous. He has been known to employ child labor and has often associated with religious fanatics. He has cohorts among the less than reputable, including Ottoman traders, ruffians, smugglers, and Nazis — lots and lots of Nazis. He has on numerous occasions entered social settings dressed in Nazi garb. And in fact, his Nazi infatuation has gone so far that even his journal contains an autograph by Adolf Hitler. In general, these sorts of connections do not go over well with progressive faculty.
Lastly, there’s the question of Indiana Jones’s value to the university. With his constant adventuring, one could safely assume that grant writing was not his favorite pastime. This does not mean that Jones was not valuable in other ways. The amount of treasure that Jones has come across is nearly priceless. One could almost command an unstoppable army with the wealth and treasure Jones has seen. If the university were to arrange a small finder’s fee from Jones, one would think that they would surely come out ahead.
However, let us make one thing clear. In giving tenure to Jones, the university gave tenure to a man who knows the location of the Holy Grail. Though academics joke that tenure is forever, in Jones’s case, it may actually be true. Imagine a solid millennium of matching 401k contributions. Professor Jones would be that one old professor who literally will not die fast enough. In fact, he literally won’t die. He’ll just putter around the office acting as if nothing had changed since 1933.
It’s virtually inconceivable to think that a prestigious university such as Hamilton could have awarded this man tenure. There must have been another reason.
Now it’s possible that the Senior Dr. Jones pulled some strings, as nepotism and academia have always gone hand in hand. One could also guess that the Prof. Jones of today vastly differs from the lowly straight-laced Asst. Professor Jones of yore. It’s entirely possible that upon receiving tenure, Prof. Jones threw academic rigor out the window and transformed into the swashbuckling academic that we know today. Unfortunately, a cursory viewing of the Young Indiana Jones completely dispels this notion.
Sadly it’s difficult to find a reasonable means by which Indiana Jones achieved tenure. It may be that his tenure process embroiled the entire university in scandal and only by his good looks and connections did he achieve his current status.
There is however, one last compelling argument that can be made. We must remember that Prof. Jones did find the Ark of the Covenant, which the government wanted to hush up as quickly as possible. As we all know in academia, how do you hush up a rambunctious, young upstart professor with a large mouth?
You give him tenure.