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Govy Star Brendan Nyhan to Michigan

Brendan Nyhan.jpgI wish that today’s post were fake news, but it isn’t. Hot on the heels of Hany Farid’s departure to Berkeley, the Government department is now losing one its brightest young stars, Brendan Nyhan (so bright that the department made him a full professor with astonishing speed). He’s leaving for Michigan.

Nyhan has been in Hanover since 2011, and he understands the special place that the College occupies in higher education, as he told The D in an interview on January 24, 2017:

What was most attractive about Dartmouth was the combination of being able to teach really bright undergraduates in small classes and also have a top-tier research faculty. The teacher-scholar model was especially appealing to me because I went to Swarthmore as an undergraduate and I believe in liberal arts education, but I also have research aspirations and Dartmouth seemed like a place where I could fulfill both of those goals…

The Dartmouth ideal is someone who is committed to teaching — particularly to undergraduate teaching — while also being an active participant in their research field as well as a contributor to the collective knowledge that academia hopefully produces. The professional system in higher education tends to drive people toward one of those two roles. Most professors are focused on teaching while there’s a small set of people who are focused on research. It’s sometimes difficult to balance those roles or to find places that encourage you to do both the way Dartmouth does. I think the teacher-scholar model is something that is genuinely unique about the College. It’s one of the most appealing aspects of this institution to me.

And yet Nyhan is now off to mega-University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Uh, Phil?

Brendan Nyhan Michigan1.jpg

A huge get for Michigan. Just enormous. A huge loss for Dartmouth. Just enormous.

Nyhan’s work has focused on the manipulation of information in the media — a more relevant subject is hard to find — and he has always been an equal opportunity critic: the right and the left have both been subject to piercing criticism for distortions of the truth. In addition to being a prolific and widely cited researcher, Nyhan has written dozens of Upshot columns for the New York Times since 2014.

Addendum: Phil Hanlon’s policy with the faculty has been clear: ‘If you want a serious raise, show me an offer from another school.’ Obviously, that message has set members of the faculty to hunting, and as I have predicted, a good number of them will like what they find at other institutions. I know several professors who are entertaining attractive offers right now — as smart schools try to poach our crown jewels, too. They recognize a teetering college when they see it.

Addendum: The College does not publicize the departure of faculty members. Please write to me if you learn that a professor is leaving Hanover.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in to note that Brendan Nyhan served as a RWJ Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan from 2009-2011.

Addendum: The D now has a report on Nyhan’s departure.

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