Temple Snags Controversial, High-Profile, Twitter-Loving Prof

Fresh from hating on Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, Sara Goldrick-Rab joins the T’s faculty.

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A higher-ed star is joining Temple’s faculty as of this July 1st. Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Penn grad who was most recently a professor of educational policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced on Monday that she’s leaving that institution and taking her talents to North Broad.

Goldrick-Rab is well known in educational circles for her liberal use of Twitter, which she has used to, among other things, assail Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (she called him a fascist) and encourage incoming UW-Madison freshman to take their tuition money elsewhere because the school no longer offers “true tenure” to its faculty. In Education Week’s 2016 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence rankings, Goldrick-Rab is in 13th place. While at UW-Madison, she brought in more than $10 million in federal research funding, advised the White House on tuition-free community colleges, which she favors, testified to Congress on the subject of higher-ed affordability, and started a GoFundMe to send Michael Brown’s siblings to college. She has clashed with Walker repeatedly over changes to the system of tenure at Wisconsin state universities that she’s hashtagged #faketenure because she says they dismantle protections for scholars with controversial opinions and views.

In her public announcement of the move, Goldrick-Rab wrote:

Terrified sheep make lousy teachers, lousy scholars, and lousy colleagues. And today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thanks to #FakeTenure, I’m surrounded by terrified sheep. To be honest, commitments to the growing number of people whom I am responsible for (including my two children, but also my students and staff), put me at risk of becoming one of them.

Goldrick-Rab also mentioned that Temple has a strong tenure system as well as a faculty union. And she cited “a desire to be closer to the students whose lives I study,” noting Temple’s diversity:

Fully 35% of the more than 28,000 undergraduates Temple enrolls receive the Pell Grant, and 43% are students of color (including 13% African Americans). In contrast, while UW-Madison educates a very similar number of undergraduates, just 15% of them receive Pell and just 24% are students of color (including 2% African Americans).

She also gave shout-outs to Temple prez Neil Theobald and School of Education dean Gregory Anderson, which proves that though she may be an iconoclast, she’s still plenty savvy. Congratulations to her, and, we think, to Temple. May she be shaking things up from hereabouts for years to come. (No word yet on her stance on a campus stadium.)