I'm all for well-paid educators, but I have no use for the dead weight whose focus is their research and paper-writing. If you want to do pure research, find a lab some where, don't drain the university and college systems. With the many thousands of dollars students pay for their education, they deserve better.
I think you're overlooking the fact that 1) teaching oriented schools usually focus on professors who can teach and who do very little research 2) research oriented schools are necessary for graduate education, which involves levels of complexity and skill beyond the realm of simply being a "good teacher." Some people have proposed separating graduate professors/researchers from undergraduate professors. That is something that could work, but at the same time, I would hope that undergrads would want to learn from accomplished researchers, even if the material is dry. That being said, there are still deadwood types who are bad at both teaching and research, who should have never been tenured in the first place.
STOCK: Right now, the stock NC has a browser and could serve as a basic tablet for someone. But B&N is soon going to be updating the NC with Froyo and the app market, which will make it much more like a tablet.
ROOTED STOCK: This is the best option as of today. Rooting took me only about 20 minutes, and the process is non-technical/noob friendly. Rooting will get you the market, google apps, push gmail, a new launcher (which will make it look like a true tablet), and softkeys (to replace the missing navigation keys that are on all android phones).
CUSTOM ROM: This has the most promise, but it is not quite ready. Cyanogenmod has nightly builds of CM7 for the NC. As others said above, this will be awesome. I run CM7 on my phone, and I love it. Once it is fully ported to the NC, it will truly be a full-function tablet that can directly compete with the iPad. There are also some custom builds that you can install to a bootable microSD card that run both Froyo and Honeycomb.