4.0462 PCs A Necessary Research Tool for Faculty? (1/36)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 7 Sep 90 16:33:26 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0462. Friday, 7 Sep 1990.

Date: Fri, 07 Sep 90 10:36:14 EDT
From: Jan Eveleth <EVELETH@YALEVM>
Subject: Personal Computers for Faculty

The recent posting by Vicky Walsh of the humanities computing services
lists as its top item that each faculty member should be provided with a
personal computer. Recently I encountered a second-hand story about a
prominent faculty member in our history department making some
(suprising?) comments about computer use in the humanities at what was
predominantly an administrative meeting. He reportedly stated that
universities, such as Stanford, that have routinely provided computers
to every faculty member have seen no benefit in the overall quality of
the work being produced in their humanities departments (he claimed
knowledge of the history research in particular) and therefore there was
no attached increase in prestige forthcoming to these departments. He
either then stated or implied that the availability of computing
resources was not a factor in attracting high caliber faculty members.

Our administration provides funds by heavily weighting these types of
issues: prestige, attracting prominent faculty, etc... To hear from a
respected faculty member (who by the way *does* use computers) that
computers play no role in improving the quality of research does not
bolster efforts to have the administrators see the computer as tool now
necessary to doing scholarly research. The cost burden is, for the most
part, left on part, left on the shoulders of individual faculty members
with not even a tax advantage offered.

Are faculty members content to purchase their own computers? Is there
evidence that quality of work and hence departmental/school prestige has
been enhanced because of availability of computers in humanities
departments? How about quantity of work? What about research that
couldn't be performed without a computer--has it added to the value of
its discipline?

It seems to me that the computer has indeed become an essential tool to
nearly every humanist and should therefore be provided by the university.

--Jan Eveleth
Humanities Computing
Yale University