The Campus Visit and Academic Hiring

This morning a new variable occurred to me in the story that is understanding academic hiring.
Could any candidate see past the situation that confronts her or him in Geneva lately? Here are the Weather Channel’s predicted highs and lows for the next 10 days as of this morning, Monday, January 29, 2006:
17/13 – Mon, 1/29
21/15 – Tues, 1/30
22/17 – Wed, 1/31
28/21 – Thur, 2/1
32/18 – Fri, 2/2
19/13 – Sat, 2/3
17/14 – Sun, 2/4
20/14 – Mon, 2/5
22/14 – Tues, 2/6
26/17 – Wed, 2/7
What I’m wondering is not from our side but from the candidates’ position. Let’s take 3 departments – Political Science, Anthropology, and Art. All three have tenure track searches this year. Because of the variability of national conference timings, Political Science brought its candidates to campus between Thanksgiving and exams; Anthropology/Sociology has candidates on campus about now (they had folks here last week and may have more this week – I’m not really keeping up with that search). Studio Art won’t even have conference interviews until lateish February and we may still have candidates coming in March.
In many job searches some candidates do have other options. Do departments who regularly have campus visits in January have a harder time attracting their first choices? Since the timing pattern is national (but weather is regional) one could look at a much larger pool than our tiny employment situation by checking Cornell and Syracuse University.
Oh, the variables are too complicated to say anything important – people decide to take one job over another for all sorts of good, bad, and purely personal reasons – but I have to wonder. And I feel sorry for any candidate trying to make a fair assessment of what it’s like to live in Geneva year round on the basis of this month – oh, and for any department trying to convince candidates that it isn’t always like this.

Seneca Lake, Friday, Jan 26, 2007

It was about 5 or 6 degrees Friday morning and the lake surface steamed! The ice wasn’t thick, but was about as far out as I can remember (this is only winter #8 for me, though). The black spot on the ice between the boathouse and the tree on the right is a flock of gulls doing a penguin act and sitting on the edge of the ice.

All in all, pretty, but BRRRRR!

Do you want to know when I dislike living here?

I hate living in Upstate New York when I have to go back out to evening meetings night after night in sub-freezing weather. Weather.com lists one day with a temp above freezing (and that at 33 degrees) in the 10 day forecast. I have a meeting tonight (Human Rights Commission), tomorrow (faculty mini retreat about an ongoing review of Reviews – you know, “what is it we do to review faculty for tenure and is it working?”), and Thursday (information session for 2008 terms abroad).*
I’d rather come home, eat supper, and read. Perhaps weeks like this wouldn’t be any better in a more temperate clime, but I wouldn’t have to wear so many layers every time I walk outside.
Friday? No break – I leave 12:30ish on a Library Committee Field Trip to SUNY Geneseo. What is it that I’m supposed to be doing with my time in order to get tenure? I forget. Maybe they’ll explain on Wednesday.
*o.k., o.k., I should be quite so cranky. I realized later that the info session for 2008 isn’t until Thursday the 1st of February.

A happy Airedale




A happy Airedale

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

I never really understand Argyle. She sleeps in such strange positions – and then occasionally wakes up to great scrabbling against the baseboards to get upright. Or she’ll swing over the other way and rattle the doors of the little marble-topped chest as she struggles upward.

She was looking especially cute with her new toy (a squeaky green stuffed dog that I stopped at the door, pulled off my gloves, grabbed the camera off the kitchen counter, and took this (and about 5 other shots – this was the best of a poor lot).

Argyle is not much of a chewer of things-not-her-own, for which I am profoundly grateful. That and not getting up on furniture are two excellent habits more beasts could share. Odd, though – when I brought this in the door and offered it to her she grabbed it in her mouth and ran off shaking it; she even figured out how to make it squeak! Somehow Argh could tell it was hers, all hers, from the first moment.

If you left a comment here and are suprised to see it GONE, please see this entry! I apologize.

Alpine Bakery




Alpine Bakery

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Look! Another new bakery in Geneva! Alpine Bakery (on Castle Street between landmark Geneva tavern Pinky’s and Exchange Street) specializes in pastries and cakes! Yum! I bought some little nut florentines and a great cherry turnover yesterday. The picture is from a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t get around to posting it.

I neglected to ask the owner her name (there was a crowd yesterday! a good thing!), but I know that she has a location in Clyde, NY, and has been coming to the Farmers’ Market for the last 2 years or so.
Here’s the Alpine Bakery website.


And here’s the older new bakery in town.
And here’s Bibliochef’s take on Alpine Bakery.

First Weekism – Roman Art

I think my Roman Art & Power class is off to a good start – I have a bumper crop of Latinists and Grecians who seem very interested. Only one of them has any art history background, so far as I can tell, so I’m getting to build some vocabulary and art historical method into the early days. Yesterday we did a good bit of naturalism vs. idealization, which is especially fun with Roman portraits. It’s very easy to think that faces like this one are warts-and-all veristic, the closest thing to a photograph in the Ancient World, but I find it more useful to remember that one can overemphasize wrinkles and warts to emphasize the subject’s maturity and wisdom – two personal characteristics the Romans valued very highly.
All in all it never pays to assume that vision is telling a simple truth. It’s not that it can’t tell the truth, but that truths worth telling are seldom simple.

Building Community in a Collegium

The pitiful state of American higher education got me an invitation to quite a nice cocktail party tonight (with cheese leftovers for Miss Argyle).
Yes, we have something like 160 faculty members (let’s not argue about the numbers — can there be anything more depressing that FTE arguments? I’ve always wanted to demand a show of hands for the faculty who came to these Colleges as a tenure track hire. I sure didn’t, and I’ve been Presiding Officer of the Faculty [Meeting] already).
So, the Committee on the Faculty* (CoFac, the de jure voice of us when talking to the Other, be it the On Campus Other** or the Trustees) decided that what we need are more social events. I flatter myself that the humble efforts of the untenured folks to hold regular Happy Hours influenced the decision. So, there we were, drinking free beer and wine and eating some cheese and crackers. Argyle thanks you very much that you didn’t eat all the cheese. Cheddar floats her boat. I had many lovely conversations, shook the hands of cute babies, and generally whooped it up.
So what made me cranky?
Well, I counted three non-City of Geneva-residents: a resident of the county seat who is also a member of CoFac and didn’t have an entirely free choice; an Ithacan who is currently seeing a Genevan; an Ithacan who explained to me when I saw him at the Colleges’-Christmas-bash-for-everyone-in-town that he was turning over a new leaf.
In other words, the usual suspects were there. I was very pleased to see the effort and the result – 50 souls isn’t a bad turnout at all – but I am disappointed to have been the only person from my department, whatever the excellence of the reasons of those who weren’t there. Maybe the Faculty Lunch Junior/Senior Speed-Dating concept will help.

*Ooooh – the chair of CoFac blogs here.

**I do not favor the frequently-heard locution The Dark Side to refer to Them. It is not a sign of inherent evil that their priorities are different from ours (and often wrong-headed and wrong) but only a sign that they are not Us.

Argyle mooching around in the snow.

And it doesn’t hurt my mood at all that Argyle seems to like snow more than almost any other climatic condition. Last night I almost lost my mind taking her out in the almost-single-digit weather (though my home thermometer said 12 it is attached to a brick building – Weather.com claimed it was indeed down to a single digit out there) encouraging her to — umm — get it over with. Be businesslike. Reduce my stress and her eventual discomfort. All to no avail.

I am thankful to report that Argyle was able to control her bodily needs until the morning walk.

Pulteney Park on the First Day of the Semester




Upstate Ice Storm 1/15/06

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

This is what I was whining about on Monday morning – the ice-covered Pulteney Park reminded me of winter storms at home . . . only here they have salt trucks and all the roads were perfectly passable. Luckily the world warmed up enough that the ice melted off trees and the snow didn’t take everything down.

Oh – there was something weird about the interaction between Flickr and Moveable Type – I seem to have followed the right instructions finally to get the pictures to show up over here at my will. Hurrah!