New Faculty Orientation

I attended a reception yesterday evening for new faculty members and their families. For a good number, this will be their first year of a tenure track job. For the rest, it’s the start of a year of the temporary appointment system (I think all these folks were full time). At least at an event like this we make no distinction, but it’s just under the surface.

Of course I started here at these Colleges on a one year contract, which transmogrified into a 2 year contract by November (they had already figured out that I wasn’t an axe murderer). I didn’t get on the tenure track until year 5, and came up for tenure in year 8. In other words, I’m an unrealistic optimist about my own career, like many people who start Ph.d. programs. More depressing to think about than how closely we’ll stick to these syllabi this semester!

Two searches this year.

My department searched two positions this year – for a tenure track assistant professor of Architectural Studies and for a one-year replacement faculty member in New Media/Video. The first position has been offered and accepted and the second position – well, I hope the committee decided this afternoon on their recommendation!

Once again, I’m glad not to be chair any more!

Academic job search tales of the uncanny

I’m on sabbatical, but I agreed (in a moment of weakness) to do a task with a job search. I have to read through the files (though not much else) in order to be sure the committee is doing a fair and equitable job. 87 folders (luckily they aren’t actually all complete, so I can skip incomplete ones).

So I was reading along through the middle of the alphabet yesterday. One candidate’s name began Mil- and the next folder was an Ras-. I assumed one of the other folks had put a block of folders back into the drawer carelessly, so I stepped over in the office to find the rest of the M candidates. Turns out there were no candidates with a last name beginning with N, O, P, or Q.

Weird.

(Oh, once again – if you’re a grad student who has completed the Ph.D. your advisor, at least, ought to want you to get a job badly enough to personalize the letters of recommendation. “To whom it may concern” letters that stress the likelihood that you yourself will be an excellent advisor of graduate students don’t do you much good at small liberal arts colleges. I understand that your fourth reader may not be much invested in your career – but your advisor?)

Talk about an inside candidate! Yale’s new president hasn’t been anywhere else since he was an undergrad

Salovey, who is 54 and lives in New Haven with his wife Marta Moret, came to Yale as a graduate student in 1981 and has three decades of academic and administrative experience at the university. He is the only president in the history of Yale who has served as the chair of an academic department, as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as dean of Yale College, and as provost.

Maybe a good thing – but you know, it can be dangerous, too.

Interesting hire for president at Reed

Kroger named new Reed College president.

I know only what I’ve read about Reed and some idle chit-chat here and there – but Reed has always struck me as an intensely academic place (oh, and with a weird reputation for drugs, though there always seemed something carnival-like to what I’ve heard). And everyone at Small LIberal Arts Colleges know they refuse to participate in the USNews ratings. Read the Wikipedia entry.

So, to hire someone with a J.D. instead of a Ph.d., though it’s all  the rage (and we’ve survived for 13 years with our local version), seems striking. Higher Education has certainly turned against hiring from the inside!

Maybe they hired the Oregon Attorney General to do something about the druggie reputation? Interesting.

Do we need more scientists?

Derek Lowe asks the question – and it’s not from self-interest.

Science. Technology. Engineering. Math. Everyone with a thought about higher education has a thought about the STEM subjects. Generally, these thoughts are about how we can get more people in the US to study them. But I’ve always wondered about that. As an organic chemist, when I tell a non-scientist what I do for a living, about 80% of the time I get “Oh, I hated that subject.” “That’s why I’m doing it,” I often tell these people, “so you don’t have to.” They’re usually grateful. These people (and there are a lot of them) would likely not have been lured into taking such classes at any age, and their current equivalents won’t be, either.

For our Provost and Dean of Faculty search I participated in nine off-site interviews and five open sessions with on-campuss candidates. I’ve heard a fair amount of bloviating about STEM. There really are folks out there who think we can force students to be interested in these fields because public policy folks think they’re important. Dr. Lowe wonders about that.

Candidates!

I think we just made the transition from having applicants to candidates . . . after hours of Skype interviews on 3 separate days we have narrowed our focus to a group of four. The Provost gave me permission at a meeting yesterday (yes, I had a committee meeting on a Sunday – argh!) to bring the four to campus, and I emailed them yesterday evening. Now we’re scrambling to construct a schedule, to get dates on the Provost’s calendar, etc., etc.

I feel fine about posting this here because someone (one of the 4, I have to suppose) has updated the Academic Job Search Wiki with the information!

Foxes, hedgehogs, hybrid monsters

Professor Tim Burke has a very interesting essay on liberal arts college models. I really don’t want to excerpt (I want to read it again myself) — so go read: On How Not to be Foxhog College.

Here at these Colleges we had a marketing plan that used the Isaiah Berlin Hedgehog and Fox contrast. The implication was that we were all very foxy folk here.

One of my colleagues in Classics gave a brilliant lunch talk in which she showed quite convincingly that Archilochus wasn’t thinking about the life of the mind at all when he wrote something like: “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” He was — um — making a genitalia joke. That Admissions slogan didn’t last a lot longer.

Burke’s essay is especially interesting for me this month, because I sit on a committee that has to review a dozen or so proposals for faculty positions and recommend them to the provost in a ranked list. The way it usually works around here there are always more proposals than there is money to hire new folks (depending on how much the salary pool will save as people retire), so if there are a dozen proposals six or eight or ten might go forward. The process is always a competition of goods, but it takes place in the jumble that Burke describes at the end of the essay — some are driven by foxy priorities, others by hedgehogish tenacity.

Amid the excitements and frustrations of the academic job market for people COMING here…

Hobart and William Smith folks got news this weekend of someone leaving. My friend and neighbor Professor Susan Henking has taken a job at a really interesting and complicated place — Shimer College in Chicago. She going to be their 14th president!

The more I’ve read the more perfect a place is sounds for Susan. Here’s their internal version. Here’s Wikipedia. It’s going to be a complicated but interesting time for President Henking — and for Shimer! I wish her, and them, all the best!

Where DID I file that photo of Roman phallic amulets?

So – if I had paid closer attention back at abstract-submission-time to the dates for the actual Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference, I would not be stressing about the quality of my photographs shot of objects in cases at the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne.

Yes, yet another conference paper on detached body-part badges, but this time I’m going to try to suggest a prehistory for the little things.

What could I be doing this weekend? I was feeling very guilty that my travel was going to interfere with doing Skype interviews for Early Modern Candidates . . . but then one of my colleagues suddenly has an unexpected funeral to attend, so the weekend wouldn’t have worked anyway.

Oh, well. I’ve never been to Phoenix, so that part (and seeing some old Emory friends) will be fun!

If it’s not one job candidate, it’s another

Last week I went to an open forum and a committee meeting with the first of 5 campus visitors for the Provost position. Friday I went to the job talk and then had dinner afterwards with the first candidate for the one-year architecture position. This evening I’m having dinner with a candidate for the tenure track French position (because this is one of the medievalist candidates — it’s open to 19th C or medieval). And then there’s the Early Modern position in my department! Yikes!

Early Modern: the Competition

One of my colleagues on the search committee was reading files yesterday afternoon and asked who else was searching this season. I popped onto the Academic Jobs Wiki to answer her question. Here’s the competition, with some notes:
Tenure Track
Early Modern or Renaissance/Baroque
College of Charleston – Ren/Bar (teach a 3/3 load)
Concordia U Montreal – filled
Tulane
Oklahoma State – hiring assistant or associate
U of British Columbia – asst or assoc
U of Pennsylvania – wide ranging regional interests, 1300-1750
Narrower than us
Case Western – Early Modern Southern Europe
U Wisconsin-Madison – Early Mod Northern Europe
Columbia – Southern Europe 1300-1700
Broader than us
Coastal Carolina – Renaissance specialty, must teach Medieval, Ren, Baroque – filled
Grinnell – medieval / early modern – asst or assoc
Lawrence U – Renaissance primary, Medieval secondary
Mills College – Medieval, Renaissance, OR Baroque — filled
U of Alabama – Medieval/Renaissance
U of Montevallo – Ancient to Renaissance
U of Pittsburgh – any field in pre-1750, especially Mediterranean or Global
U of Southern Indiana – Med, Ren, OR Baroque
Non Tenureable or Other
Lasalle University– Chair, Fine Arts Dept – specialization in Ren Art
Middlebury – visiting
UMass Dartmouth – visiting
Our job?
Hobart and William Smith Colleges invite applications for a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor in Early Modern European Art and Architecture, beginning Fall 2012. Preference will be given to candidates prepared to teach broadly in the arts of Europe and with a research specialization in painting or sculpture. Additional teaching interest in an outside field or period complementing those of current department members is desirable (e.g., African-American, African, Pre-Columbian).
We seek an enthusiastic colleague with broad competencies that will allow work with faculty from other departments in our general curriculum and cross-listing of courses with our interdisciplinary programs (see catalogue: these include, for example, Women’s Studies, European Studies, Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Media and Society). The Department encourages participation in Global Education programs. Ph.D. preferred, ABD considered.
The teaching load is five courses per year, one of which will be a 100-level survey course. Successful candidates will show an ability to offer relevant intermediate and upper-division courses, including capstone courses, and to participate in the First Year Seminar program.

Ah, academic job applicant folders

Of course WE didn’t remember that there would be a federal holiday Monday, so some material will be trickling in legitimately late, but we’re hoping to gently close the door soon, get everything read (some of us have read a lot, some a little, and some none, but that’s about average). There are all sorts of interesting folks who are applying; this is the exciting phase, before we have to make any decisions NOT to hire anyone (other than the most flagrant examples of applying for every job this year). Just off hand, I think we’re in the high 50s now for total number of folders — but some of those have only one or two letters of recommendation in them and the application hasn’t arrived. Soon!

Back from D.C.

The Maize Order
One of my first all-four-year alums,* Keith Castaldo, is now a member of the staff of a Representative — and he invited me for a private tour of the Capitol! It was great fun and I saw all kinds of things I didn’t even know existed! The photo is one of the Benjamin Latrobe Maize Order capitals.

*I got to these Colleges in the fall of 1999, and he got here in the fall of 2000, graduating in 2004.