Category Archives: Faculty Hiring


You’re Hired! Now Finish That Dissertation

When I was A.B.D., I asked a family friend for advice on finishing my degree, and he told me a story that provided me with much motivation. This happened back in the days of paper applications, but the image still stands.

He used to work in an academic-administration post that processed applications for tenure-track positions. Somehow they had started a two-file system for the positions: In one file went the applicants with completed terminal degrees; in the other went the applicants who were st…


Itchy-Feet Syndrome

“Dr. Itchy” contacted one of his references to seek advice on a last-minute administrative opportunity that had come open. The position was not a very good one: The institution was in the midst of a leadership transition, its location was not terribly attractive, and while the job itself carried a title that would be a promotion, the salary was not particularly competitive.

As the reference prodded a bit, Itchy finally admitted that he really wanted the new title as a steppingstone to a better p…


That Awkward Moment

A few years ago I was sitting at a lunch table at a conference, and a gentleman sat down next to me and introduced himself. I replied, “Oh, we’ve met! I interviewed with you for a faculty position about 10 years ago and … ha, ha … you passed me over for another candidate.” The look on the man’s face was priceless, as he ransacked his memory to retrieve my name and tried to apologize for passing me over, all at the same time.

“Oh, what a favor you did me in not hiring me, though!,” I continued wi…


The ‘Secret’ Members of Search and Tenure Committees

Anyone with common sense knows that on-campus candidates need to be on their best behavior while interviewing. Doing a great teaching demonstration and being able to talk about your research are important, but good manners are expected. The same applies to the tenure process; collegiality is often considered alongside scholarship and teaching.

All too often, however, people forget about the “secret” members of some search and tenure committees—the administrative support staff—or underestimat…


You Didn’t Get the Dream Job? Relax: You Still Have a Job!

“Jacqueline” was reasonably happy in her tenure-track position and had just passed her midtenure review with glowing evaluations and strong affirmation from her department’s leadership. She found her department’s collegiality quite encouraging and enjoyed a decent quality of life on her solid but not stellar pay.

Heading into Christmas break, she noticed an advertisement for a position in her specialty area at an institution near her family and many of her lifelong friends. The institutional cha…


The Replication Error

“Dr. Incredible” announced her retirement with plenty of notice, so the department conducted a national search for a successor throughout the academic year. Her academic specialty was not particularly hard to come by, but she had been a terrific colleague and leader on the campus, a super-professor who was a mentor for dozens of students, led significant committees, and produced serious scholarship. She even had prepared baked goods for Monday mornings and had donated financially to the departme…


Sometimes It Is Whom You Know

Academics are notoriously bad at what other professionals call “networking.”

That’s partly because we tend to be loners and introverts by nature. The whole idea behind networking—meeting people just to say that we’ve met them, cultivating relationships based on self-interest rather than on mutual interests, making “contacts” instead of actual friends—is foreign to those of us who have spent our lives in libraries or laboratories, working alone or in small groups.

But we also fail at networking i…


On the Inside Looking In

Nothing in academic hiring incites more controversy and conspiracy theories than the issue of inside candidates, either those who occupy a temporary or interim position that is being replaced by a permanent hire, or those who occupy another slot at the hiring institution and who seek to move into the advertised position. Finally—although this is a somewhat different case—there are the institution’s adjunct faculty members, who may be seeking to be hired for a tenure-track or full-time position.


Too Many Mentors Might Spoil the Soup

Sarah shared with her doctoral-program mentors the joyous news of her first job offer from a relatively small teaching institution. Several of them said, “What are you countering to their offer?” She was surprised, figuring she should merely be appreciative of the offer itself.

They started peppering her with items she should ask for. Relocation expenses? A research assistant? A library allowance? Travel money? Those were not that surprising as she thought about it, but then they pressed on: a f…


Loyal, but in Which Direction?

Friends of mine say that I’m loyal to a fault. They don’t know the half of it. The truth is, I have many faults, and I’m loyal to all of them.

OK, so that’s an old joke. But it helps me introduce a difficult and highly fraught topic: the loyalty that institutions show, or fail to show, to the people who work for them—particularly the part-time faculty.

Several weeks ago, I went to a high-school basketball game in my community. It was Senior Night, the last home game for the host team, when senio…