Academia:The Poster Child for Organizations Needing Change

Two anchors removed…Campus closed and dad died. Each event was life changing in its own way, and each has its own associated stories, but here I’ll focus on the campus closing, which provided an opportunity to learn about academic job searches. Having spent a majority of my career in private sector did nothing to prepare me for the world of academia. Even after seven years as a faculty member, I’m not sure if I want to be labeled an “academic.” Like the word “liberal”, it has both positive and negative connotations. On the positive side, it ascribes a degree of intellect onto the person with a Ph.D, and I take pride in listing myself as a Professor. On the other hand, seven years of trudging through the morass of beauracratic academia is enough to make one wonder how our institutions of higher learning have survived for so long. It is no wonder that the “for profits” have been eating the lunch of more traditional institutions.

There is no more perfect example of inefficiency than the process for hiring faculty. If you want to hire faculty to teach for the 2010-2011 school year, then you advertise during the 2009-2010 school year.  Job notices get published anytime between September 2009 and and March 2010. During that period, CV’s are received but not reviewed until faculty return after Christmas/holiday break.

CV’s are reviewed by a “search committee” composed of one interested party (I.E., someone who cares) and two or three relatively interested parties. (Note that searches for muckety-mucks like Deans, Presidents and Provosts may have very large committees.) As expected, the committee members have other duties they perform like research and teaching, so the search is low on their priority list, but eventually they “get ‘er done”. If you are paying attention to the timeline, you have noted that a prospective candidate could submit their CV as early as September 2009, but not get any response from the Committee until March of 2010. That presumes they are shortlisted (in academic parlance that means “advanced to candidacy”). To the private sector world, this type of hiring would appear as lunacy, but it is the accepted way of doing business in academe.

Each faculty job announcement clearly states that candidates will not be notified unless they are shortlisted. Again, for those not paying attention, a candidate could submit their CV in September and if they are not shortlisted, they may never receive a response. Not even a notice that their CV was received. It is as if academia needs a refresher course in one of the first things we teach our children “treat others as you want to be treated”.

As my son-in-law says, “it is what it is”. Here I sit awaiting “no responses”, lots of rejections, some interviews, and one success.

Ciao till next time.




Running with the Boomer pack and experiencing angst over shrinking retirement dollars; deciding whether to move to lower cost area; pursuing the career dream, etc.

Just returned from touring new housing developments in Wilmington, NC as a possible new home.  Found it to be a beach town that is rapidly (over 25 years) transforming its downtown.  As with all quests, I learned more about myself (note to husband: I and myself mean we and ourselves). Learned that Wilmington is a very nice town, but not quite urban enough for us.

We went looking for nightlife and found that there are two kinds (fast/slow or young/old). If you fit somewhere in between, then there is nothing. Our first clue came from a transplanted Charletonian who said that there is no culture in Wilmington. But that was just one woman’s opinion, so we went looking for a place to dance (not cultural but fun) on Saturday night and started out at Rox. The bouncer took one look at my husband and me and came outside to explain to us that “you don’t want to come in here”.  Being obviously a few years older than their usual clientele (21-31), he suggested another club.  We went where he suggested, Sportsmen’s Club, and walked into a time warp. Nice club, good DJ, and comfortable, but reminded me of the old BYOB cabaret days.

Left the Sportsmen’s Club and decided to return to Rox and see for ourselves. Upon arriving the first thing we noticed were policemen out front. That was all we needed for confirmation that “you don’t want to come in here.”

Not to knock Wilmington. Nice place. Friendly people and definitely on the upswing. May come back in 10 years. It’s just too slow for us. So the quest continues.

Ciao till next time.