It's almost like the start of a bad joke: A professor and a pundit walk into the Texas Tribune office. ... But more or less, that's what happened.

Naomi Schaefer Riley, a former Wall Street Journal editor and author of the book The Faculty Lounges ... And Other Reasons You Won’t Get the College Education You Pay For, was in Austin to, among other things, speak at an event put on by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank that has played a leading role in the state's ongoing debate on higher education.

Daniel Hamermesh is a prominent economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, whose top administrators have opposed the kinds of changes proposed by the TPPF. He also happens to have a book coming out called Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful.

They didn't come together to the Tribune, but Riley and Hamermesh both recently visited to talk about tenure, the well-established guarantee of employment bestowed upon top professors, designed to shield teachers from political pressure or retribution. It's a factor in any debate about higher education reform, and Texas has plenty of that these days.

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Tenure is the subject of Riley's book, and it's something Hamermesh has. He's for it. She's not.

Here's what they both had to say about that and reforming higher education in general:

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