Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Time Left For You

Okay, so there's an ad in the JFP asking me to "address the department description on our website and the university mission statement." Is the department description on the university mission statement? No, that obviously makes no sense. But let's put that phrase's need of a relative clause to one side. Because what really doesn't make sense is asking me to address the department's description and the university mission statement in my application package.

Listen, search committees. I know you want to see us candidates making an effort to show you how well we'd fit in at your school. You want to see the thought we've put in to our applications for your department. After all, you don't want to hire just anyone. You want to hire someone who wants to be there. Fair enough.

And you know what? We will put that thought in. I swear to fucking god, we will put many hours of thought into figuring out how we'll fit into your department and your school. But we're not going to do it right now, okay? Because right now, all our thought's going into figuring out who we need to talk to get our hands on our old course evals, how to get the secretary to mail our letters today and not next week, and whether or not we can ignore the increasingly pissy e-mails about our unpaid tuition for another month, because this month we're dropping a few Benjamins at the post office.

Give me an APA interview. Then I'll address your department's description and your university's mission statement.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed 100% I'm really not sure what requests of these sort want us to say. Maybe just anything. It's a creative writing contest: they aren't sure what they're even looking for, but the most creative not-obviously-BS answers get points. The one in particular you mentioned, I finally set aside. I could complete 10 or so other cover letters in the time it took me to do that. That, and the deadline passed by quietly. Too bad. I think I would be a good fit.

Anonymous said...

Writing school-specific cover letters is a pain, and asking applicants to write an essay on the topic of "What special qualities I would bring to your department" is moronic. But I've heard that some schools that aren't in the Leiter top 50 toss files out *based solely on the cover letter*: if it's generic, the file goes. At first, I was scandalized. They might be eliminating loads of good candidates! But they're not worried about eliminating good candidates. They know that, with 100 or 200 (or 300 or 400 or 500) files, they won't have trouble finding 12 candidates who are good enough. And what they're looking for are 12 candidates who are good enough *and who actually show some interest in the job*. So what they're doing isn't crazy. (Yes, you could show interest at the interview. But why should they wait until then? They can find 12 people who, before the interview, have evinced particular interest.)

-- A Guy on Hiring Committees

Himself said...

No, no - this job ad is not just the request for showing interest in the school. It's asking you to declare up front that you are Christian and preferably Catholic. Because they're almost certainly the only people who will get this job. I don't like the fact that there are jobs that depend on your religious affiliation, but it's good that they're telling you to work out that this is a Christian job and you aren't going to get it otherwise.

Jon Cogburn said...

Actually, at a below-the-Leiter-top-50 school it's often pretty difficult to find 12 people interested in the job. (1) A certain percentage of the people on the hiring committee will be complete marks (that's pro-wrestlingese for person who doesn't realize that the match endings are pre-determined) for the candidates from the best schools. (2) A certain percentage will be completely driven into getting someone who fits their idiosyncratic vision of what the research profile should be. (3) Some people in this profession are both astoundingly bad at detecting bullshit, and moreover completely oblivious to the fact that they are so flawed in that regard.

I really hesitate to say this, given that I'm not anonymous, but all other things equal with respect to research and teaching, I'd rather hire the person not from the hottest school. My impression is that: (1) assuming equal research output, it will be easier to keep the person from the less prestigious school, both because the person from the more prestigious school is more marketable and because he's more likely to think he deserves better than my department, and (2) the person from the less prestigious school will be more happy and less likely to spend most of his time whinging about how my institution doesn't measure up or about the perfidy and backwardness of the American South, and instead get his hands dirty do things that improve the institution and community.

I realize that my bias maybe goes to far in the other direction, and that they are formed by small samples. Nonetheless it's the opposite biases (combined with the hubristic inability to realize that one is a faulty bullshit detector) that make it hard to get 12 people in the interviews that will actually be happy with the job. So I don't think mine are hurting the process.
--------------
I hope the institution in question actually has an informative mission statement. If the school is Catholic or something like that, then it's fair game. But if the mission statement consists of the usual content free pablum cooked up by flunkies for the overpaid Vice Chancellor in charge of P.R., then I don't know what to say.

I always wonder if some of these little rituals are just to see if you'll jump through whatever hoop gets thrown at you. It's the equivalent of "team building" exercises (everyone put on the blindfold and hold the shoulder of the person in front of you! you see, when I rappel down the wall, I have to trust the person ahead of me. now I want everyone to write down the name of the actor who would play them in a movie about your life. you see, when I fall backwards, I have the confidence to know that my team will catch me.) which don't really accomplish anything other than humiliation and mild post-traumatic stress that comes from the intense and nauseating realization you really are a sheep when it comes down to it. The long term result of this abuse is not stronger "teams," but rather just increased servility and anxiety.

Sorry I'm going on about this. The university I'm visiting this semester has an obstacle course in the middle of it. The education school runs programs departments can sign up and then have to run through the damn thing. Unfortunately some of the ropes you have to walk on are really high off the ground. You get to wear a harness, but if I ever did that it would be Owen Hart all over again. In addition, it creeps me out when I walk by it, because I realize I still would have subjected myself to the ritual humiliation of it all had I been here without tenure.

Jon Cogburn said...

Oops, sorry for all the typos above, and for missing the comment that says it is a Christian institution.

Actually, the whole practice makes me uneasy.

(1) As a Jesus Person myself (albeit one mostly just chuffed about the Gospel of Mathew, and not so much the rest), it just seems incredibly insecure, naive, and ignorant for these institutions to do this. Wouldn't the institution be best if the faculty love wisdom and the truth? Naive- Is the song and dance about the mission statement, or statement of faith as (if I remember right) some of these places require, really likely to provide evidence that the person loves truth, or as seems equally likely that they will nihilistically say whatever it takes? Insecure- Why does the idea of a non-Christian who genuinely loves the truth threaten these people? Are they unsure in their faith? Ignorant- the model of "faith" in these statements of faith is almost always retarded, as if faith is just a matter of clicking off a "yes" next to the relevant set of statements in a Fodorese content-determinant language of thought. Educated, informed people realize: (A) exactly what "Christianity" amounts to is exceedingly complicated, with diverse strains that have been in tension with each other from day one, (B) linguistic meaning is underdetermined enough to make (A) inevitable, (C) the insight of negative theologians and the Kantian tradition show that (A) is inevitable, (D) confusion of spiritually and morally relevant faithfulness with affirmation of relevant propositions is indefensible ethically and intellectually (from (B) and (C)).

(D) is important; Thich Nhat Hahn is as good a Jesus Person as anyone who would sign one of these statements of faith (and Hahn's Zen would at best make him a radical negative theologian, were he in the Christian tradition).

(2) Does the APA accept adds from institutions that actually make faculty sign such Christian loyalty oaths? If so, does not this amount to whoring out Lady Philosophy?

Philosophy demands a constant genuine openness to being wrong about any of your explicit propositional beliefs. Having as a condition of employment affirmation of propositional beliefs radically undermines this openness. Does anyone know if the APA have a position on that?

Anonymous said...

When asked to address a "university mission statement" I've just been making vague remarks like, "I support the university mission statement." I figure if my application gets thrown out because I don't endorse a particular religion with enough vigor etc. then I don't want to be there anyway.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 5:18 (which isn't a scriptural reference!). Isn't a vague statement of this sort sufficient? And, anyway, isn't it typically university admin (as opposed to those in the department who are making at least the initial decisions about whom to interview, invite to campus, etc.) who insists on such declarations?

Anonymous said...

I can understood departments w/o graduate programs wanting some way of ensuring that applicants will stick around in a job limited to teaching undergraduates, but there's got to be some other way.

Requiring the following just doesn't help: "Candidates should send a letter of application explaining their interest in and commitment to undergraduate teaching."

What do I say. I'm not creative enough perhaps, but how do I explain my commitment to undergraduate teaching w/o simply stating it, which sounds stupid, or waxing eloquent, which anyone w/ a BS detector will see right away. It's like the teaching statements all over again.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 5:18 again. When someone asks for a statement of support for something like the "Catholic Intellectual Tradition," what are you supposed to say? "Well, I support the stuff about trying to find a rational reason to believe in God, but the time when you persecuted Galilio, not so much."

Anonymous said...

Jon asked:

"Does the APA accept adds from institutions that actually make faculty sign such Christian loyalty oaths? If so, does not this amount to whoring out Lady Philosophy?"

Yes. Calvin, Westmont, and Wheaton are among the schools who advertised in the JFP either this year or last year and have statements of faith that must be signed off on. (Granted, they don't describe them, so far as I am aware, as 'Christian loyalty oaths'. But I suspect this is splitting hairs.)

Himself said...

I should clarify that my previous comment resulted from me googling the phrase quoted by PGS in the original post, which turned up one hit other than said post, an add by Notre Dame for positions in "Theology and the Bible," which for obvious reasons is basically looking for co-religionists. Apologies if PGS is merely citing a search that uses identical wording. If PGS is citing this search, the quotation is a little disingenuous, since the job ad gives the link to the mission statement right after mentioning it, so there's no semantic ambiguity there.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten that "Say something about our mission statement" is code for "Affirm your Christian faith." My bad. I guess it's been too long since I've been on the market. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I used to be at a non--Leiter-recognized department. In a foreign land, to boot. We would definitely toss candidates on the grounds that they were too likely to get better offers. This especially applied to candidates from top schools.

-- That Guy Again

Non-Leiter Guy said...

Jon,

Actually, at a below-the-Leiter-top-50 school it's often pretty difficult to find 12 people interested in the job.

If this is right, my department is a major exception. I'm a student in a department that is a below-50 school that was hiring for three positions last year. We had hundreds apply. More than 15 made the cut and we interviewed those in more detail. We settled on two and decided to pass on the other position until this year and are looking again (i.e. we could even be picky!). The people we hired? Both from top 15 programs (one from a top 5; hell, I'll just say it, one was from Princeton).

Will they stay? Well, of our current faculty, only one (i.e. the most senior member) did not come from a top 20 school. The current faculty hail from Pittsburgh, MIT, Berkeley, UCLA, U of Arizona, etc. and they've all been here for years. I have no reason to think we will lose our new hires.

Like I said, though, maybe our department is an exception to the rule, but I have a feeling that they are not.

***

Can I ask a not-very-related question? Like I said, I'm a student in a below-50 program. I've thought about trying to transfer to one of the "top" programs, but I'm in a weird situation. My AOS is bioethics and my advisor is a superstar in the field. I'm not sure there is a better scholar for me to study under. Let me illustrate:

Rutgers (Leiter-ranked 2 overall; Group 1 in applied ethics). Who would I study with? Obviously, Jeff McMahan is well-known in bioethics, but his interests are in a different aspect of bioethics than mine and, lately, he has been producing more stuff about war than bioethics proper. Holly Smith is awesome, but she seems to be more interested in normative issues lately.

Harvard (Leiter-ranked 7 overall; Group 2 in applied). Obviously, Francis Kamm kicks ass, but her newest stuff is in ethical theory and not bioethics. She is most well-known for her theoretical work.

NYU (Leiter-ranked 1 overall; Group 2 in applied). Ruddick is major-league, but he's around 75 years old. Could I really count on him not retiring in the next five-seven years? If he did retire, what big name bioethics person is left there?

Princeton (Leiter-ranked 3 overall; Group 2 in applied): Peter Singer is now part-time, and his area of interest in bioethics is in animals and some stuff with embryonic stem cells (not what I'm wanting to write on).

So, here's the deal. I'm at a non-ranked program, but I'm working with one of the most well-known and respected scholars in my field. We have a good relationship, and she'll make me write a great dissertation. Should I really try to run to a "top" program and work with a scholar not as well-known in my field or should I stay here and work with a superstar?

I'm inclined to stay because it seems that when it comes to letters of recommendation, they really don't come from anyone more god-like in my field.

Isn't this the basis of Leiter's rankings anyway? His rational is that people get jobs because they work with the best scholars and get recommendations from them. He ranks schools on the basis of the quality of scholars there. I'm working with one of the best scholars in my field even though my overall program isn't ranked at all.

I feel that I am capturing the spirit of Leiter's system. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

In relation to Jon's claim, I am visiting at a decent state school. 3/3 with two preps, usually about 100 total students for a semester. In a decent location. So I think it qualifies as a good job. Last year they advertised to hire two spots. I would guess they got at least 300 apps total. They ended up making offers to four different people and all declined. So they didn't hire because they could not find anyone interested enough in the job.

V.A.P.

Anonymous said...

Jon Cogburn and Anon 7:00AM both reference the practice of throwing out applications from high Leiter-ranked schools on the assumption that the applicants will get more attractive offers.

I wonder, has anyone ever actually followed up on this assumption--say by seeing where the people they threw out for this reason ended up? Is there any evidence showing that these people really did have better options?

I'm at a top-ranked Leiter program. I know we have a big edge on the market and so I don't want to complain, but I find it maddening that our applications are being thrown out for this reason. In this crappy job market, even students at top schools struggle to find tenure-track jobs. Job candidates from my school frequently fail to get a single tenure-track offer and only the tiniest minority of us ever end up at Leiter ranked schools (to say nothing of TOP Leiter-ranked schools, which most of us are not even allowed to apply to). Those who do get TT offers usually have only one offer (at most two) and it is usually at a small college or second-rate state school in an undersirable location. While this is obviously much better than no offer at all, we would love to know what our options would be were our dossiers not being thrown out on the assumption that we are drowning in fancy job offers. It seems most of us are stuck in the no-mans-land of being underqualified for top jobs and considered to be overqualified for less fancy jobs.

It's time for search committees to realize that (with a few exceptions of once-or-twice-in-a-decade "cream of the crop" kids who are handed top jobs on a silver platter) no-one (except perhaps Princeton grads) is in a position of being so deluged by job offers as to be unwilling to even consider an offer from a less-than-fancy school.

Anonymous said...

Re: transfer.
How have your advisor's other students fared? If they've gotten excellent jobs, that's strong reason to stay. If, however, they've not done as well as the placements from the top-ranked schools (esp. of bioethics candidates), that's strong reason to try other places. If there's an insufficient track record...you'd be the test case.

Anonymous said...

I have a question, and it is a bit off topic, but I figured that since it has to do with what departments want their applicants to send, it would be OK to ask here.

As a general rule I have been sending out *only* what a department says they want in a job posting. So, if they ask for a teaching statement/philosophy and not a research statement, I don't send the research statement. I figure if they want it, they will ask for it (same goes for a writing sample)

What do you philosophers think about this practice? Should I stop it immediately?

Anonymous said...

I've been sending out a standard CV with research & teaching statement and whatever else a sufficient number of advertisements have requested this year or last year. I figure that the specific requests are because HR makes them ask for it or because they've found that most people omit it. I don't assume that just because they don't ask for it that they don't want it. Some don't ask for writing samples, but I send one anyway. They can always throw it away.

Anonymous said...

V.A.P.--

Of course, surely someone in that pile of 300 applications wanted the job.

Jon Cogburn said...

V.A.P.

First, your point is a really good one. I know a couple of extraordinarily good people from top programs that didn't get hired last year.

Second, I don't think any supbar program engineers things so that they don't interview any candidates from top schools. I've never seen a case where they don't at least get half the interviews. My own department has in the last seven years hired tenure track people from Arizona, King's College, Bolling Green, Cornell, Ohio State, and Virginia.

Third, fairly or unfairly, part of the onus on all job candidates is to convince the department that you can see yourself thriving there. Unfortunately, this sometimes gives an advantage to insincere fast talkers who are very good at the vanity-stroking promising young man schtick. This being said- my institution has a 2-2 load. Anyone who loves research can thrive here. But you would be amazed by the number of people who get here and make themselves and everyone else absolutely miserable by constantly complaining about how much better everything (students, support, facilities, colleagues, the city etc.) was where they went to grad. school. This is really stupid: (1) it's not a recipe for a happy life, (2) the new assistant prof. only communicates to her/his new colleagues that they are idiots for being at my institution for twenty or so years., and (3) the new assistant prof. does a huge disservice to the other job seekers from his or her institution, for whom the onus is then much greater to show in the interview that they won't be arrogant whingers.

Fourth, if you are in a supbar department and you only interview people who are getting twelve other interviews, then you can have a year where you go through the entire hire process and not be able to hire anybody because everybody has got better offers. If your funding is not secure, you could potentially lose the line that way and then your students who need the classes are screwed.

Fifth, it really starts to hurt a department when it goes for long periods without tenuring anybody. The division between crusty fulls and everybody else becomes more and more damaging.

So, if you only hire people who immediately go out on the market again and keep going out you get one of three outcomes: (1) the person never gets a job and ends up getting tenure, but often gets progressively weirder in an attempt to explain how they could be so much better than the non-Leiter school in which they find themselves mired, (2) the person does get another job and at best the university lets you keep the line (which you may have to fight for) and maybe you'll tenure somebody the next time around, or (3) the person does not get another job, but has put so much mental and physical effort into staying on the market that their tenure case is much weaker than it would be otherwise.

I realize this all sucks and that it's not fair.

Please note that above I explicitly said that I'd rather have somebody from a lesser ranked school, *everything else being equal.* If the person from the greater ranked school has done better with presentations and publications, things are clearly not equal. If the person from the greater ranked school is a much more engaging speaker (and hence likely to be a better teacher), things are clearly not equal.

I realize that what I'm saying here may be completely indefensible. So please correct me if it is!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:05, I am sure lots of people wanted the jobs. Hell, I wanted it eventhough both were nowhere near my AOS.

My point is that it is not unreasonable for depts to worry about people accepting or staying. A search takes a lot of time and energy, for the reasons Jon lays out. I suspect that for many depts (not top depts) the most important thing is to make sure you are not wasting your time. So looking for indications of real interest is reasonable.

I should also note that it is not only top ten program grads who get this. My PhD. is from a place in the forties and I have had questions in interviews about whether I would 'really' be happy at the school. The first time I completely flubbed it and did not get a campus visit. The second time I nailed it and got a campus visit. (Only to fuck up the teaching demonstration.)

Of course, many depts do have unreasonable expectations. Requests for personal faith statements, undergrad transcripts and much else that has been noted on this blog are complete horseshit. I've stopped applying to most places like this. Perhaps, I will regret it, but I don't want a dept that plays hard to get.

V.A.P

Himself said...

Some of the off-topic questions here would be better addressed to the Chronicle forums.

Regarding the top programs and finding jobs issue, I believe Leiter said in a Chronicle article some years ago that top program graduates suffer from the fact that they typically concentrate in sexy areas e.g. contemporary analytical metaphysics, that departments outside the top tier have little use for.

Anonymous said...

First, addressing the Department's description and university mission statement in an application really isn't that big of a deal. All you need to do is to show some sort of familiarity with them--a couple of sentences or so will suffice. Sure, this is a pain, but it's worth investing in, since some schools will be very impressed that you know a bit about them and show this in your application. In my first set of interviews I was told by four places that this is part of what landed me the initial interview, so it's worth doing. I applied to over 90 places, so, yes, it can be a real hassle!

Second, I think that it's awful and foolish for schools to look askance at graduates from top programmes. Not only is the job market hard for them, too, but people have individual preferences that might lead them to genuinely want to be at a lower-ranked school; maybe they like teaching, don't want the pressure of a top school's research requirements, like the location, and so on.

Third, dislike of living in the South isn't limited to people from top schools! In my experience pretty much anyone not from there is going to loathe it deeply--and for good reason.

Fourth--Jon, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make in listing the schools that your department (Tulane, I'm guessing, as I'm too lazy to Google you!) has hired from. Only King's--which I assume is KCL--is top flight. (I've never even heard of Bolling Green!) Are you trying to indicate that people from good but not top schools get hired at Possibly Tulane?

Fifth--Bioethics Person; checking the track record of your advisor is good advice. But I would also consider whether you want to stay doing bioethics for the early part of your career (i.e., up to say, five years post-tenure). Because if not, you should transfer. Specializing in bioethics will label you as someone who only does that, and if your supervisor isn't known for her normative work as well as her bioethics work, this will make you very uncompetitive for any jobs that aren't strictly bioethics.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about the criteria that anonymous 5:44 is using to determine if a school is top flight. Bowling Green is top flight in applied ethics. Both Arizona and Cornell have higher scores in the PGR than Kings but anon. 5:44 says that Kings is top flight but the other two are not?

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

To those from top-tier schools... if your buddies didn't do the "take a job ABD as a means to finish then go on the market again in 2 years" approach to job hunting, then departments wouldn't be scared to hire you.

Believe me, coming from a lesser ranked program and seeing someplace I'd like to work hire the same type of person over and over again, because that type of person keeps going elsewhere is pretty frustrating. Every time they have to initiate another search, they must re-justify the tenure line, and sooner or later they won't win the battle.

Jon Cogburn said...

I teach at Louisiana State University. My C.V. is can be accessed from my web-page at http://www.projectbraintrust.com/cogburn

The point I was making was to the person concerned about prejudice against top flight schools. I worried that what I said earlier gave the impression that my department exercised such prejudice, and felt the need to counter that.

Anonymous' claim number three frankly sickens me. Suffice to say that I know many, many faculty not from the American South who teach here and don't hate it.

I was an airforce brat who lived all over the place (Arizona, Austin, D.C., Germany, Ohio), and I'm very happy in Baton Rouge, LA. One thing I learned as a child of the Air Force is that the Stoics really are right about happiness. People who excessively blame theire external area are not happy anywhere. Again and again in the Air Force we'd meet people who would blame their unhappiness on the place they were currently stationed, having convinced themselves that they were happy at the previous posting. Everyone knew that these people did the same thing at every posting. Academics are no different.

Not only does the attitude offend my stoic sensibilities, but having lived through Hurricane Katrina (admittedly in Baton Rouge, not stuck in New Orleans like one of my colleagues), I find the attitude to be part and parcel of something morally outrageous. I love New Orleans and Baton Rouge, cherish what is great about them, and work hard to change what needs improving. I have hundreds of colleagues from the North who feel exactly as I do.

Sorry for the digression. I won't be offended if PGOAT or somebody takes this one off.

Jon Cogburn said...

Oh yeah, to be clear- by my estimation King's College, Bowling Green (in Applied Ethics), Cornell, and Arizona are all top flight schools.

And anon 5:44's claim wouldn't be reprehensible if it was just the false empirical claim that good philosophers from the North can't stand the American South. His parenthetical "with good reason" really grates.

During Katrina L.S.U. Baton Rouge operated the largest triage unit ever on American soil (and this includes the Civil War). All night for a couple of weeks helicopters flew overhead bringing sick and dying to our campus. L.S.U. coordinated one of the if not the largest animal rescue operations in history. The convention center three blocks from my house was packed to the rafters with people who had lost everything, as were the churches in town and many large buildings at L.S.U. Over forty percent of the people in Baton Rouge had evacuees staying in their homes. When I asked my students how many of them had lost their homes, over a third raised their hands. Mental health issues are not surprisingly very, very pressing for our students as the recovery grinds to a standstill.

I'll get off my soapbox now, and promise not to continue this debate (Anon 5:44 feel free to have the last word). Just forgive me if the cavalier, "ha ha, the South sucks" attitude of so many of my fellow philosophy professors infuriates me.

Anonymous said...

It's curious to hear people from self-identified 'top-ranked schools' complaining about not getting jobs.

"I'm at a top-ranked Leiter program. I know we have a big edge on the market and so I don't want to complain, but I find it maddening that our applications are being thrown out for this reason. In this crappy job market, even students at top schools struggle to find tenure-track jobs. Job candidates from my ['top-ranked'] school frequently fail to get a single tenure-track offer and only the tiniest minority of us ever end up at Leiter ranked schools."

Your presumption is nearly offensive if you are suggesting as many indeed have suggested before you that you are surprised that your colleagues at your 'top-ranked' schools did not get jobs even 'second-rate' (your words) jobs. Are you also surprised that some of your future colleagues at 'non-top-ranked' schools do not get jobs even 'second-rate' jobs? Or is that a different sort of case in your thinking?

The logic with which you seem to be justifying the rankings is clearly circular: "If I get a degree at a 'top-ranked' school then the high ranking should insure that I get a good job. But now I cannot get even a 'second-rate' job. I cry foul!"

Need us to dissipate the riddle for you?

If A then B
Not B
therefore Not A

That "poof" sound you just heard is your 'top' ranking vanishing. Go back to Logic 101 before you hit the job market please.

Himself said...

That logic is wrong. The guy said 'should'. Given the is-ought gap you can't refute a 'should' with facts. That's the problem: there's more or less nothing you can do about people's sense of entitlement.

Jon Cogburn said...

Shoot- final point about where my department was hired from. We've also hired from Ohio State, University of Virginia, and Saint Louis Univeristy, Southern Illinois Carbondale, Saint Andrews, and the University of Florida.

The Saint Louis University guy was initially hired as an instructor. Those of us who thought very highly of him couldn't get a tenure track line in his area early enough, and he ended up moving to a top 50 Leiter ranked school and has continued to publish better than any of the rest of us still here in my department. Note also that he and his wife had started to build a really good life in Baton Rouge with all sorts of community connections. He didn't condescendingly view B.R. and the university as a stepping stone that he could mock for the rest of his career, and would not have gone on the market if the prospect for tenure track here hadn't been so bad.

Anonymous said...

The two posts questioning my logic and sense of entitlement are totally off the mark. (I'm the anon from 2:08 PM.) We are all obviously very stressed out here and it might be good if we could take a deep breath and apply the principle of charity. I never said that people at top-ranked schools were entitled to top jobs. Quite the contrary--I said that many of us are in fact "underqualified" for such jobs. I was not complaining about not being able to get top jobs. If you read the post, you will see that I was complaining about search committees at non-top schools assuming that we will get top jobs or leave later for top jobs and therefore not even considering our applications. It's the search committees who seem to think we're destined for great jobs, not us. I was simply pointing out that search committees might be employing practices that are not justified in today's market given the scarcity of jobs.

Others have pointed out how annoying it is when people from top schools don't stick around for tenure. This is definitely a problem--we have it at my school too with our junior hires. But I think this problem is caused by a small but vivid minority. A good majority of people who graduated from my program in the last 20 years are still at their first TT job.

So I hope that search committees are not applying blanket heuristics on the basis of name of school alone. There is a huge variability in the grad population at top-schools (as at any school, presumably). A lucky few are pegged as "the next so-and-so" fairly early on and funnelled into jobs at fancy schools. But many of us don't get jobs at all, do the adjuncting thing, or leave academia. We don't want search committees thinking that we are wasting their time just because some of our lucky colleagues have burned them in the past.

Jon Cogburn said...

Anon 8:00- good points all I think.

Again, I made the mistake of putting detailed info. about dept. in part to allay your fears on that score.

Anonymous said...

Jesus fucking Christ. Can we please not hear whining from people in top programs. I'm in a temporary position teaching too many students not being paid enough to live on and the permanent faculty won't even look at an application unless it is from somewhere fancy. If you're not top 30, you shouldn't bother applying. I'm sure my department is no anomaly. Meanwhile, I've won a teaching award, I have had publications, and I have never had an interview at the Eastern. After three years of trying, I can't get anything better than a lecturer's position in a department that pays you 30K and makes you buy your own computer. If you think coming from a top department doesn't give you a ridiculous advantage in the philosophy job market, you are a horse's ass and the fact that you will get a job is precisely the evidence that confirms it.