Rick Hess is an amusing guy– witty banter, fun to have drinks with– and always pushing buttons. I dig that, even though we rarely agree on policy issues.
What I like most about him is that he takes seriously the idea that academics should bring their research to the public, and in an effort to prod that along, last year he began ranking us. He uses a set of metrics that even he admits are pretty darned flawed, but are at least an ATTEMPT in the right direction. I like it not because I’m ranked (ok, I like that too) but rather because Hess is a prominent guy doing whatever he can to provide incentives to professors to do more than what tenure requires of them. He wants us to use all 5 tools in our work–“disciplinary scholarship, policy analysis and popular writing, convening and quarterbacking collaborations, providing incisive media commentary, and speaking in the public square.” And that I can appreciate.