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.



2 thoughts on “Academia:The Poster Child for Organizations Needing Change

  1. Good to know. Now it’s evident to me as to why the jobs posted on my school’s website remains unfilled several months, perhaps longer, after its initial posting. As the saying goes, “It’s who you know”, and not always what you know.

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