If you follow college football at all, then you know that former LSU coach Nick Saban has left the Miami Dolphins to coach the University of Alabama Crimson Tide/Charging Elephants (I believe there is some confusion at Bama concerning their mascot). You may also know that his contract is (basically) $4 million a year for eight years, which makes him the highest paid college football coach in America.
Now, I’m a huge college football fan—especially LSU, but the SEC in general. I happen to think Saban is a great coach, especially since he brought a BCS championship home to Baton Rouge (despite what you USC fans may think). I also love the great state of Alabama. I went to Bible College in Birmingham, made very good friends there, met and married my wife there, and hope to return there one day (soon). In fact, we would have already returned, save one thing: there is no graduate program in philosophy anywhere in the state of Alabama. Not even a master’s program.
Of course, there may be some very good reasons for that. On second thought, no, that’s not possible. I can’t think of any good reasons to forgo a graduate program in philosophy. The state should be embarrassed over this state of affairs! There are two major, well-known and well-respected colleges in Alabama: Auburn University and the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), not to mention UAB, Samford, and other smaller schools. But I want to specifically call out UA., as they purport to be THE state school of Alabama. Let me be clear: I’m not picking on the phil department; I’m talking to the administration, the movers and shakers there. Why? Because they apparently think football is more important. Four million dollars a year for eight years, just for a football coach!?!
Look, I’m sure that taking an undergrad only program and adding on a master’s is quite complicated and difficult. But do you think you could find a way if we appropriate, say, only $1 million a year extra to your department? How about four million? “But Keith, you don’t realize that all that money comes from alumni who stipulate that it go to the football program. If we don’t do what they say, then we can’t have the money at all.” Is that really the type of graduates UA is producing? If so, then I think it’s plenty clear how badly the academics need the resources such money could provide. Besides, we know better.
I’m calling out the powers that be at UA: get as serious about academics as you are about football. Come on Mr. President of the university, get your priorities straight. Take a look at other state schools around you: UGA, LSU, U of Tennessee, and others all have at least an M.A. in philosophy. Let’s get with the program.