Graham, L. Letourneau, J., Crooks, T., Lazovich, T., Miraglia, E., Chondcord, F. et al
After 34 years patiently waiting in the back of a chemical cabinet, a bottle of sodium hydroxide manufactured in 1986 has finally been granted academic tenure. Looking dapper with a salt & pepper layer of dust, Sodium Hydroxide, CAS-103093-500g – “Noah” to friends – credited its success to all the hardworking grad students who completely forgot it was in there, and not having a family.
Professor Aldous Schneider, head of the tenure committee, said they were particularly dazzled by the compound’s commitment to consistently putting in 168 hours per week in the lab, and chastised other tenure-track faculty for wasting time on activities like teaching, mentoring, and sleeping.
Though the move was seen as long overdue by some, not everyone believes the chemical compound deserved the promotion, and some have criticized the decision of the university as racially biased considering the fact that they have yet to grant tenure to a non-white reagent. The university says that while the hiring of the first non-human faculty member should be celebrated, it will conduct an internal audit of hiring practices for future positions.
Dr. Seymour Cruthers, who originally ordered the reagent after his own tenureship in the university’s chemistry department, says he is proud of all 496 grams that remain of Noah, who is also his first student to ever receive tenure. However, the reagent was very close to leaving the university just eight months ago during a particularly intense lab cleaning.
“We had it in the discard pile, but we were afraid what would happen if we threw it out,” said Fatima Hassan, one of Dr. Cruthers’ students. And with that, Noah was put back on the dusty shelf. “Now, the new protections it has received under tenure make it impossible to remove from the lab,” said Hassan.
Like most tenured professors, the reagent is expecting to present the same tired ideas over the next few decades, constantly steering away from anything new and original.