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Author Topic: seeking advice concerning what i deem to be unfair hiring  (Read 3856 times)
theramax
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« on: October 21, 2007, 7:20:51 am »

I am wondering whether anyone had similar experiences as mine and what his/her recourses were.  Last year, I have applied to a tenure track position in philosophy at a community college that I have been teaching part time for the last six and half years. 
Needless to say, I didn't get the position.  In fact, I was only given the first tier interview.  While that in itself was disappointing, whom they hired is simply and contiuously infuriorating.  Perhaps the committee's standards were different from mine, but these are the facts:
1) The posting wanted someone who can teach in humanities, religion (particularly the Western religions), and philosophy.  I taught in all of these fields for the last six and half years at AA, BA, and MA levels.  In fact, I have taught courses in these fields at the very institution for the last six and half years.  The person who has gotten the job does not have any teaching experiences in humanities or religion, at the institution or at anywhere else.
2)  I have much more teaching experience, especially at the very institution.  I have been adjuncting there for the last six and half years; she has only been there for the last three.
3) The job posting stated that the institution preferred someone with a Ph.D.  I have one; she is still ABD.  In fact, my degree is from the same institution that she is finishing up her dissertation.  My department is ranked much higher than hers academically.  I have published a few articles; she hasn't.
4) I don't know what her student evalutations were, but mine are usually pretty good.  But this was not relevant as the application did not ask for any. 

I have asked for some kind of explanation from the dean (who was the head of the hiring committee) since the end of the last Spring semester.  He said he can't talk about it then, but he will later (although he "can't get in too much depth due to legal reasons.")  Well, since then, I have made two appointments to see him.  But somehow, both times, he has had other pressing issues to deal with and was not around. 

Am I wrong in thinking that I am owed at least some kind of explanation, after some six and half years of teaching any course that the dean needed to fill in these fields? 

And, those of you who may have had similar experiences, how did you deal with the frustration?  Everytime I walk into the department, everytime I see her, I taste bitterness.  Of course, it isn't her fault; she did what she had to do.

What are my recourses, if there is any?

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zharkov
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2007, 7:43:13 am »


Please clarify something....

The job title is professor of philosophy.  The person hired is ABD in philosophy (?).   But your PhD is in something else (?)

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__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
theramax
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2007, 7:53:09 am »

My degree is in Religion (with the specialization in philosophy of religion).  Her ABD is in philosophy.  The position is in philosophy; however, since there isn't a separate department of religion, religion professors are part of philosophy department.  But like I said, the position called for someone who could teach in Humanities, Religion and Philosophy.  Like I said, I have taught in all three fields at the very institution.
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tenured_feminist
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2007, 8:00:55 am »

This is going to sound harsh, but if you haven't seen her placement file and you don't know the pool, it's difficult to conclude that you were clearly the better candidate. You may have been stronger across some dimensions but weaker across others that the committee valued more highly. Also, I don't know as much about the community college setting as many on these boards, but at many institutions I've known, long-term adjunct service can actually be a detriment when one applies for a TT position. It's sort of a "familiarity breeds contempt" thing.

You really have no legal recourses. Employers are under no obligation to select the person with the best objective credentials in the pool, and laws allow for the entrance of subjective criteria in the decision to hire. Only if a person was clearly denied employment due to membership in a protected class (i.e., race, gender, religion, national origin) can a suit be sustained. And that's hard to prove.

As Zharkov notes, one possible explanation is the disciplinary one. If the committee chose only to consider seriously individuals with Ph.D.s or soon-to-be Ph.D.s in philosophy for a job listed as philosophy, no court would question it, regardless of the preferred teaching areas.

If you were hoping for a TT position at this institution down the road, I think you've been given a very painful but clear signal.
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theramax
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2007, 8:42:13 am »

Dear Tenured Feminist:
Thank you for your reply.  I wasn't asking for any legal remedies I may have, although perhaps my use of the word, 'recourse,' may have implied as much. 
What I have listed on the original post as the criteria for comparison is not a subjective one; rather, they are the very ones from the advertisement.
Correct me if I am wrong, but shouldn't what you call the dimensions come after the candidates at least fulfill the posted requirements in the advertisement?  And, isn't there a difference among how well candidates fulfill these requirements?  For instance, compare someone who has taught/published with a PhD in the fields that the advertisement stated verses someone who is finishing up her ph.d. without any teaching experience in two of the three fields that the advertisement stated. 
Do please inform me so that I may prepare better for the next time:  what dimensions would make up for this difference?   Letters of reference?  Quality of education?  Teaching evaluations?  Professional involvements? 
You are correct to say that I haven't looked at her file or any other applicant's.  But, I wouldn't have been as upset if someone they hired fulfilled their stated requirements and preferences. 
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avaya
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2007, 10:21:18 am »

It may also be that they don't like you well enough to hire you as a tenure-track colleague.  They are glad to use your labor but don't want you around forever.

I have no idea if this is the case.  But unfortunately I have seen it even at my own college.

My advice to you is if you want a tenure-track position, you should start applying elsewhere, since they do not have any plans to hire you as a tenure-track faculty member.

I know it sucks.  But leverage your 6.5 years teaching to find a better position elsewhere.  Lemonade out of lemons ... yes, it sounds trite but it is the best way to approach this experience, in my opinion.

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scheherazade
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2007, 10:34:23 am »

1) The posting wanted someone who can teach in humanities, religion (particularly the Western religions), and philosophy. 
"Can teach" and "has taught" are two different things.  Given her research and courses taken, she may very well be qualified to teach those courses.

Quote
3) The job posting stated that the institution preferred someone with a Ph.D. 

"Preferred" is not the same as "already has."  Most ads say PhD preferred, but they hire ABDs near completion all the time, generally with a deadline for finishing the diss.

The school did not violate the posted requirements.  Most ads have a "wish list," which may or may not be fulfilled (and often isn't); that is not the same as a requirement.  This person may very well have many qualities that are important to the SC.  The SC did not do anything wrong, and they technically don't have to give you any explanation.

In any case, I would stop pressing the dean for information.  It will make him/her more and more uncomfortable and make you look more and more desperate.  You need to either move past your bitterness (because this scenario happens all the time) or find another job.
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2007, 11:07:52 am »

Unfairness is common.  My favorite instance was when I was a temporary full-time instructor of sociology with two degrees in it at a community college, and was competing for my own position.  It was given to a masters prepared psychologist (actually the psychometrician for the local school district), a bariatrically-challenged individual who was supposed to be a godawful teacher.  Hu WAS a local however, so that probably had the most to do with it, since I was from out of town.
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zuzu_
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2007, 11:10:55 am »

Was there a teaching demonstration? Many CC SCs have reported that this is the number one factor in who they decide to hire. She may have nailed it.

Sorry to be harsh, because I've been in almost your exact position, but I would say there's no chance you're ever getting a TT job here. My favorite metaphor for this scenario is old whore/wife comparison. As an adjunct for these years, you have been their whore. They like you, they like the "service" you provide them, but they will never commit to you. They can't see you as "wife" material.

My advice is to open up your search geographically. Once I realized that the CC I worked for wasn't ever going to hire me, I did this. This, of course, required a major shift in mindset for me and SO, as we thought we would live in our hometown forever. I got many interviews and several offers, as I was the "exotic" out-of-state candidate, whom they hadn't seen as adjunct/whore, and to whom they could imagine making a real committment. And I'm sure there are adjunct instructors at my school who resent me, just like I resented the people hired TT at my former CC.

Don't take it personally, because it's really not about you.
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larryc
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2007, 11:26:36 am »

What are my recourses, if there is any?

None whatsoever. Hard as it is you accept the decision and move on. No one owes you an explanation and you are not going to get one.

Look at it this way--now you know that you are never going to have a full time job at that institution. Since a permanent position seems to be your goal, it is time to cut your ties there and move on. Mount a serious, nationwide search for a position.

Good luck.
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mdwlark
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2007, 4:35:28 pm »

Last year I applied at a CC where I had adjuncted before.  I was a finalist for the TT position.  They advertised that a Master's was required, PhD preferred, in my field with my background and expertise.  After my teaching demonstration I overheard two of the SC members comment, "That was just excellent."   I didn't get the job.  I have a PhD, the candidate selected has a master's degree and is not even in a PhD program currently.  She stopped with the master's.  This year (one year later) they called me and asked me to adjunct.  (I didn't apply, they just called because they were short-handed.)  If we lived in a just universe, I would have said no, but I was desperate for money and needed current teaching experience on my CV, current course evaluations, and a positive reference, so I said yes, but I'm looking every where else for a job, either adjunct (one more year, tops) VAP or TT. 

Life isn't fair.  Whoever told you it is, was wrong.  You just keep swimming forward, because it is better than treading water. 

My advice:  Don't bring up the job again with the dean.  Next time you are in a position where conversation is required, you initiate a topic and talk about anything else.  Don't ask.  Just my 2 cents worth. 
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2007, 5:27:27 pm »

Another thing that happened to me in grad school re: community college jobs.  The local community college outreach center in-charge guy was a coach.  He said that, to get part-time work, I should start showing up at Friday night football games.  Just saying.  I never did.  I never got a part time job.

Also, I was once told that to get a CC job in an associate degree program I'd graduated from in psych nursing, I should start drinking in a certain bar with the male instructors.  At least one had gotten his job that way.  Just saying, again.

 
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Taste o' the Sixties
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2007, 6:00:56 pm »

Theramax,

I agree nearly 100% with Zuzu below, and I also agree it is not fair.  You might also consider the fact that your on-paper strengths got you to the first tier, but you may be starting at the same gate, so to speak, as the rest of the applicants after that and whatever questions or demonstrations after that may have been the deciding factors.

What you don't want to do is come across as sour or bitter, but only supportive, and I know this is really, really hard to do, but it will get around the department really fast if you don't.  Don't ask anymore for a reason you weren't hired.  Use this as a learning experience to find out where you need to improve, and hopefully the dean, if he can be legally allowed to do so, might share some suggestions with you.  Take that information and run with it to a much larger search, as Zuzu suggested. Like Zuzu, I know part-timers who will never get hired and will be adjuncts forever and ever.  There are ways you can work to get what you want.  Open up your search so that you are the newer, more "exotic" one, and dazzle someone else with your even more advised and well-taken interviewing skills.

Was there a teaching demonstration? Many CC SCs have reported that this is the number one factor in who they decide to hire. She may have nailed it.

Sorry to be harsh, because I've been in almost your exact position, but I would say there's no chance you're ever getting a TT job here. My favorite metaphor for this scenario is old whore/wife comparison. As an adjunct for these years, you have been their whore. They like you, they like the "service" you provide them, but they will never commit to you. They can't see you as "wife" material.

My advice is to open up your search geographically. Once I realized that the CC I worked for wasn't ever going to hire me, I did this. This, of course, required a major shift in mindset for me and SO, as we thought we would live in our hometown forever. I got many interviews and several offers, as I was the "exotic" out-of-state candidate, whom they hadn't seen as adjunct/whore, and to whom they could imagine making a real committment. And I'm sure there are adjunct instructors at my school who resent me, just like I resented the people hired TT at my former CC.

Don't take it personally, because it's really not about you.
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svenc
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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2007, 11:10:27 pm »



Am I wrong in thinking that I am owed at least some kind of explanation, after some six and half years of teaching any course that the dean needed to fill in these fields? 


Yes.  They made their decision, and at the end of the day it is their right to make the decision that they think serves their needs best.  Unless there is some sort of overt discrimination at play here (and you have not claimed that there is any), you have no real recourse here.  And the sad fact is often that the shiny unknown candidate sometimes looks "sexier" than the known quantity in hand ... especially if folks at your current institution assume that you'll be around for the next six-and-a-half years even if they give the job to someone else. 

Of course, you could pursue this -- and some people do -- but it won't get you the job, and it may result in some real unpleasantness for all involved. 

If you are genuinely curious as to their reasoning, you might broach the subject with the SC Chair or Dean responsible for the hiring in a very informal way.  Use an opening line about how you were disappointed that you did not make it further along in the process for the last open position, and you would like to know how to improve your application for the next job that comes up at another institution. 

I am genuinely sorry to hear that this didn't work out the way you hoped, and wish you the best of luck!  But in all honesty, the best outcomes will come from moving on from this, not dwelling on it.  (Wow, I wish I could take that last sentence to heart in my own problems.)
« Last Edit: October 21, 2007, 11:13:06 pm by svenc » Logged

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theramax
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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2007, 6:08:45 pm »

Thank you all for your advise and comments.  Just one more 'fact' for your consideration:  For the spring semester, I was asked to teach the very courses that the job posting listed, and the person they hired to do so is not teaching them.
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