Higher education, including research, depends crucially on the people involved, their talents and human capital. Therefore, a university can improve or at least maintain its standing by hiring only the best available academics. Hiring the absolute best may be too expensive for most and is impossible for all. However, it is not too difficult to recognise the relatively best scholars. The real problem is to act on this knowledge instead of following other objectives. That is why detached decision makers like managers, politicians or academics from other institutions may be in a better position than faculty members with respect to senior hirings. This paper aims to address these issues
The argument is explained in detail and historical examples are given.
It is shown why and how to hire the best available academics. The existence of many deviations from this rule offers opportunities for those who follow it.
Besides some practical problems, the key intellectual problem is to measure or even define quality in academia. The principle holds nevertheless for any kind of academic quality.
Universities can improve their status by hiring the best available academics.
One simple (formal) principle can structure the recruiting process and thereby change universities for the better.
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