Monday, October 13, 2008

The Wonderful World of Academia

If you’re presently in (or have ever been in) the market for an academic teaching job and have wondered what goes on behind the scenes in those search committees, check out this series in Rate Your Students. Start here, and scroll upwards (be sure not to miss this!). You’ll get the real, unvarnished truth, perhaps more than you can take:

“Hiring on "merits" is not as easy as it sounds. Certainly on the first go-around we look at basic qualifications: degree (and prestigious degrees are not always that important), field, publications, teaching experience. After that it honestly gets much more personal, because you need to match candidates to the people and situations that already exist in the department. I have one colleague who always wants to hire the Ivy league clone of himself; another that always wants an everyman to balance out Mr. Ivy. If you already have a bunch of very shy people in the dept, you may be drawn the outgoing candidate, or you might want Junior Me, the shy one. I've seen people really warm to a candidate because of non-qualifications: he plays the violin, she is a long-distance runner. There are also serious considerations. Will this candidate appeal to the students at OUR university? We have passed over Ivy leaguers because they couldn't relate to the students, not us. We also ask ourselves whether the person is likely to stay once we hire them. If we keep hiring people who use the job to build their resume and then take off for greener pastures, the Dean will get pissed. So it may appear that we are hiring a lesser candidate from the outside when we know that our own needs are better met.”


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.