Hiring Your Own Grads

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Quote from: holzman on December 30, 2006, 10:39:47 pm

Quote from: seniorscholar on December 29, 2006,  9:16:26 pm

In a department that uses quite a lot of visiting assistant professors (who can stay a maximum of five years) to teach freshman comp, we do sometimes hire our own Ph.D.'s for a maximum of three years, instead of five. The visiting assistant professors have a decent salary and good benefits (they're covered by the same union contract that covers the rest of the faculty), and we are constantly reminding all of them to publish, develop new skills, and apply for jobs every year since otherwise (whether they're our own former grad students or not) they all begin to fantasize that they are so special we'll make a tenure line for them.

I would suspect that after 5 years you would then be required by that very same union contract to hire them for a slightly longer term, am I wrong?  In other words, very convenient that you drop them just before year six... just before they become vested and get a tiny bit of job security.  Certainly wouldn't want them to feel "special" eh?

Well no, actually, neither the union contract nor the administration would allow any person to be hired beyond the fifth year unless that person had gone through the tenure process -- this is not one of the states in which there is "de facto tenure" when one has taught a certain length of time. And (because the union negotiated it into the contract) visiting assistant professors have the same pension vesting as the t-t faculty, in TIAA/CREF (which is portable or can be rolled over into an IRA), which begins with the first paycheck for which the faculty member has contributed 5% of salary which the university has then "matched" with 8% of salary -- which means the paycheck at the end of July before the term starts (since our fiscal year runs from 1 July to 31 June) if the faculty member has signed the paperwork in time.

I'm not exactly sure of your point here. We do not hire to tenure track without a national search, and we virtually never hire (in the English department, which has literally hundreds of applicants for every position) unless the candidate has significant publications and is ready to teach graduate students. The visiting assistant professors teach undergraduates, and primarily first-year writing. The positions are advertised in the MLA spring joblists, but the hiring is done by telephone interview (no campus visits, etc.) These are jobs suitable for people who need to begin publishing in order to be competitive for t-t jobs in research universities; in many ways they are not unlike post-docs for science PhD's. The expectations are clear and so are the conditions. What makes you so angry about that?

In my field, the conventional wisdom is that you won't get hired at the place you did your graduate work (at least, not in the same department, although it is easier if you can change departments -- i.e. if your work is interdisciplinary). But there are notable exceptions to this -- especially at the top 5 R1 schools in my field, where the majority of the faculty tend to have degrees from those same top 5 schools (including the school they are working at). I think the idea is that school A doesn't mind hiring its own graduates, as graduates from anywhere else (they think) tend not to be as qualified. Obviously, this sort of logic doesn't apply at schools further down the list, which try to hire "up" as much as possible.

I tend to agree with some of the other posters that there shouldn't be a hard-and-fast rule to this effect. If the candidate who went to your school is clearly the best even after taking into account potential issues about bringing in new ideas, etc., hire that candidate. It really should be put more like this: There can be disadvantages (or perceived disadvantages) associated with hiring graduates from your university, so make sure to weigh these in the process. This will probably mean that you tend not to hire your own graduates, but there may be exceptions. If Einstein graduated from your school, obviously you should hire him.

Our cat had kittens once. When the momma cat had to wean the kittens, she would get really rough with them--swatting them hard when they tried to go back and nurse after they should have been eating on their own.  The kittens whined horribly, and really resented it.

So if graduate school is the momma cat what does that make us faculty ... cat nipples?



I am either a flea or a tick. Or possibly a hair ball.


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