Thursday, January 24, 2008

Keep Your Promise, Willie Thomas

Speaking of things the wiki's good for, it's how I found out I wasn't getting an fly-back from this one department I interviewed with at the APA. At the end of the interview, the guy who'd sort of taken point on the interview looked me at me and said, "Let us know if anything changes for your search, and when we've made a decision about who we're bringing out to campus, we'll let you know, either way." Yes, the guy said either way. As in, he'd let me know if they wanted to bring me to campus and he'd let me know if they decided not to being me to campus.

Well, that didn't happen. I saw that school show up on the wiki for fly-outs a while ago, and I've still heard sweet fuck all from the department.

Look, dickwad. If you look me in the eye and tell me you're going to let me know how your search goes, and if you expect the same fucking courtesy from me, it's really fucking shabby not to follow up on that.

65 comments:

James said...

God, it would have to be a wonderful feeling to write to schools who didn't bother to tell you anything to "let them know" that one has successfully landed a great job.

Oh, God, do I pray I get to have that feeling.

Anonymous said...

PGS, I am concerned for your sanity.

Then again, how sane is it for any of us to continue to submit applications to a process that rewards us like this?

Isn't one definition of insanity the repetition of actions with the expectation of different results?

Just make sure that you don't do this to someone else someday if you finally end up on a search committee somewhere. Other than that, I think you are banging your head against the proverbial wall here. And it isn't getting very pretty.

Anonymous said...

I just don't see why these departments don't contact people to say that they aren't being invited for interviews. Letting the wiki passively reveal this does not cut it.

Should we set up a shame-list? I'm thinking of listing the culprits.

Anonymous said...

Of course, you might be number 4 on their list, which would mean that they might still fly you out. If that's the case, then he can't yet let you know because they have not decided either way.

Anonymous said...

Reckon it could be the case that you're still in the running, i.e., maybe they're bringing in 3 candidates you're honorable mention number 4. Still, I agree that they could have told you as much.

I received a notice from a department that, though I was not in the first-round of invitees to campus, my hopes ought not yet be completely dashed. Oh well, good luck!

Anonymous said...

Of all the things I dislike about this blog, the petty calling out of specific individuals (and calling them names) is what I dislike most.

Especially because, in this case, your own interpretation of what the fellow said is consistent with your now having heard anything yet.

You say, "As in, he'd let me know if they wanted to bring me to campus and he'd let me know if they decided not to being me to campus." What if, as has been discussed on this blog a number of times before, you're in the second tier of candidates who might yet get called out. Then the department might not yet want to bring you to campus, but they wouldn't have decided not to bring you to campus either.

Prof. J. said...

Just keep in mind that it isn't just a courtesy for you to let the SC guy know when you get other offers. It's prudent for you to tell him.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you're in fourth place, and will be flown out if none of the top 3 candidates are suitable. That sometimes happens.

SCs are strange conglomerate creatures. Sit tight.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Good grief. Yes, there's a legalistic reading of what the guy said to me on which he hasn't yet broken a promise. But I don't think the point here is whether or not it's possible to weasel out of a promised courtesy without technically breaking the promise. If I'm a in a second tier, that's something I could still be updated about in a brief, effortless e-mail. In fact, that's exactly what conscientious search committees do, so I know it's not impossible.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Sorry, forgot to address the above comment. That was aimed at Anon. 5:09.

Anonymous said...

"Of all the things I dislike about this blog, the petty calling out of specific individuals (and calling them names) is what I dislike most."

I disagree. I've called out particular schools once or maybe twice in the comments here, and not too many other people have, so you may have me in mind (PGS didn't do that in this post, I'd argue, because he didn't in fact name names).

Academia is an unusually public industry: you can locate the name and position of just anyone who works at a university on their website, find detailed financial info on private colleges, etc. ver easily. It's therefore puzzling that most of the deliberations on hiring are surprisingly opaque.

I think it's good for people to occasionally call out a school for, say, only hiring Phi Beta Kappa grads (not one of the ones I named names on) or other idiotic rules. Maybe showing departments that their reputation is partially being defined by the ways they recruit, and pushing publicly for standards that respect candidates, will do something to make departments rethink their more idiotic practices.

So name names. Anyone upset at Ohio U because of the plagiarism scandal in their engineering school, or South Florida's treatment of Al-Arian a couple of years back?

Anonymous said...

Well, obviously you wouldn't want to have such a dishonorable liar as a colleague, so you should withdraw your application forthwith.

The problem with academic-wannabe-types is they've never stepped foot into the real world. Nothing being described about this process is any way different or unusual, compared to how businesses hire people.

This guy, who you've insulted so unfairly, was probably saying this: When we hire someone, we'll send out a mass email to everyone notifying the job is filled. If you accept another job, please notify us of that fact, too. Even this is going way beyond what usually happens in the business world.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

You know, for my part, the thing I don't like about this blog is its apparently magical power to force people to read it--fuck, to comment on it--who don't even like it. It's as if they don't know there are other things on the internets to read.

If only I could figure out what that magical power is, I might be able to work some of that juju on search committees.

Anonymous said...

PGS:

It's not a legalistic reading, but a common-sense reading for anyone who's been involved in the job market before. This does not mean, of course, that people don't lie. But not all of them do. Just keep it together, dude, this thing's not over yet.

fuck all of this said...

I'm with PGS here. I have it on good auhtority that the chances of being invited for a flyback as a "second-tier candidate" are fairly slim. First, it is unlikely that top-tier institutions are going to reject all of their first-round flyback candidates. Second, it is unlikely that every single one of said candidates would turn down a job offer at said school. As for less-than-top-tier schools, one would assume that none of them are stupid enough to ONLY invite heavy-hitters for flybacks, since it is extremely likely that the heavy-hitters will receive flybacks and job offers at "better" institutions which they will almost certainly accept. The rest of us who do not qualify as heavy-hitters (i.e., in terms of our graduate program, dissertation committee, etc. etc.) are much more likely to accept the first job offer we receive. Point: second-tier candidates MIGHT get flybacks once in awhile, but it doesn't happen all that often. Ergo, when PGS was told that he would be contacted one way or another concerning flybacks, it was reasonable for him to assume that the SC was referring to "first round" flybacks. The same thing happened to me, incidentally. I was told SPECIFICALLY that I would be contacted by the second week of January regarding flybacks. Guess what? No one contacted me. So I wrote to one of the SC members and ASKED, and he confirmed - without the slightest hint of contrition - that I wasn't being invited for a flyback, and he said NOTHING about the possibility of a "second round." Point: SCs are better off saying NOTHING at all about contacting people if they don't intend to follow through. The "legalistic" reading (as PGS) call it doesn't exculpate them - if you say you're going to contact someone, CONTACT THEM. And if there IS a possibility they might be called for a second round of flybacks, fine - just say that when you fucking contact the candidate! I am shocked by the lack of professional courtesy in this entire process.

Anonymous said...

I share PGS's frustration. If I had a nickel for every time a member of the SC said "you'll hear from us by X either way" (at any stage in the process, pre-, during, and post-flyout) I'd pack in philosophy and write tell-all novels on a beach somewhere that didn't have income tax. Say, Grand Cayman.
No one or nothing obligates these individuals to say this kind of stuff, so why do they keep saying it, and then disregarding it? Being on the job market is hard enough; we don't need to be patronized, misled, forgotten or dismissed. We are already in a profession that does this to us already, dammit.

Anonymous said...

This is off-topic, but related to comments posted in other threads. I don't get why schools are just sending out the affirmative action forms now. For one of the jobs to which I applied, AA information was requested (along with verification that my application had been received) back in the fall. This makes so much more sense than hoping that those you've rejected will take time out their day to help you out.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:59 said:

"The problem with academic-wannabe-types is they've never stepped foot into the real world. Nothing being described about this process is any way different or unusual, compared to how businesses hire people."

This is reason to despise idiotic business types, not reason to think that academia should follow suit. The 'real world' is full of discourteous assholes, so academia should be too, right? No.

Anonymous said...

"it is unlikely that every single one of said candidates would turn down a job offer at said school."

Well, that depends. Some solid but not top-tier schools push hard for the very best candidates, the kind of people who get a Leiter Top 10 job. If they have to later go to 4th or 5th, no big deal, especially if they can get the first round interviewed and offered out quickly.

Moreover, some schools are in locations most people find very bad. Consider OK State, in Stillwater, OK. This town is sometimes called Stoolwater, I understand.

Or Texas Tech -- have you ever been to Lubbock? I have (I'm from Texas) and it ain't pretty. See the discussion forums at the Chronicle for all the details. (Think dust, churches, isolation, and beef. Lots and lots of fucking beef.)

Anonymous said...

I'm also with PGS on this one.

However, I will say this. As candidates many of us want constant updates -- that's why the wiki's gotten so popular. Hiring schools, on the other hand, probably don't. Sure, if they have you in mind as a likely #4 or #5, and the first crop of flyouts aren't going well, maybe they're hoping that you'll solve all their problems if they call you, and then they'd be bummed to find out that their #4-6 all have jobs. But if you're #10 on their list, they know they'll never have to call you (they'd run out of time before they got that far down the list anyway, and would have to cancel the search). So I think when they say things like "keep us informed," they're trying to be polite in their socially defective way. Kind of like saying "nice to see you."

It's unfortunate, but I've gotten to the point I discount most of the encouraging things I hear from SCs until very late in the game. That means that when they do have positive and encouraging things they really do want to say, a lot of us (or at least me) don't really believe them.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone get the PFO from Princeton? It's a classic. Passive voice up the ass, melodrama (you'd think they were appointing the next pope), ridiculously apologetic (like they were turning down your proposal for marriage). I threw it away by mistake but if anyone wants to post it, it'll be good for a few laughs.

m.a. program faculty member said...

"I have it on good authority that the chances of being invited for a flyback as a "second-tier candidate" are fairly slim."

I think that that's overstating it a little bit. The following sort of thing isn't all *that* common, but it happens: Candidate #1 auto-destructs during his on-campus interview and is ruled out. Candidate #2 is terrific and is offered the job, but she's also considering an offer from Other U., and after a couple of weeks of back-and-forth negotiating, she accepts Other U's offer. Then you turn to Candidate #3, who would have been really good too, and would have liked to join you (you think). But in the meantime, he was already offered another job with a hard deadline and decided to take the TT job in hand.

Well, there you go. Now it's early March, and you have to start moving down your 2nd-tier list. It probably contains a lot of people who look just fine that you'd be happy to hore, but at this point, some of them already have been snapped up, so you may have to go pretty deep.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Princeton reject letter was supposed to be humorous on purpose, tongue-in-cheek, passive voice as ironic--that sort of thing. Maybe overdone, but I didn't take it as the author taking himself and the department too seriously. Could be wrong. Maybe someone can post and we can have the rhetoricians reading here comment on it.

Anonymous said...

I comment on this blog because I am trying to help you. I feel an ethical obligation to answer your obvious cries for help.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up yet PGS! Much as it seems otherwise, there is still a bright future. I was in a similar position a couple years ago (stewing around with no flybacks forthcoming), but I got a solid job in the spring. Remember, all you have to do is convince one hiring committee in the next couple years of your worth, and you will be set for life! (And I really mean "for life": no one who knows how hard it is to get a job will then go on to fail to get tenure, it seems to me.)
Remember that we're all rooting for you, too! I don't know you (at least I'm pretty certain I don't), but I know that I am going to go out and buy the most expensive bottle of scotch I can find when I hear of your success! And chances are there are a lot of other people who read this blog and feel exactly the same way.

James said...

I'm also rooting for PGS. It would be so awesome if all you bloggers got jobs, though I would worry about what would happen to this website. I sure hope you have people lined up to bitch and moan in your place after your hopefully imminent, though perhaps surprising, success.

Anonymous said...

Especially if one was interviewed at the APA, is it acceptable to contact the chair of a search committee and ask after the status of candidacy?

Anonymous said...

The PFO from Princeton is interesting. It lets you know that you are not among a "manageable number" of candidates for one or two appointments, but they'll let you know "right away" should they have occasion to reconsider your candidacy.

The head-scratcher is that Princeton doesn't interview, so it would take every one of their "manageable number" to turn down Princeton's offer and for Princeton decide to move beyond the list rather than cancel the search. It's about the falsest hope I've seen in a PFO. It's very difficult even to conceivev a (Leiterologically) possible world in which this ends well.

The kicker is a plea for sympathy. They claim it is "far from certain they will succeed in their present attempts." Go, Princeton! We're pulling for you, you lovable underdog!

Anonymous said...

Last anon here. Sorry I missed the Princeton PFO comments earlier in the thread.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Can second the request for someone to type up the Princeton PFO? I want to see this thing!

Anonymous said...

Has Princeton made any offers yet?

Princeton Reject said...

By popular demand:

"Dear Applicant,

Once again I resort to a form letter, this time to report that the committee charged with selecting a manageable number of junior candidates from the ~291 junior applicants for the positions that we have advertised have completed their work. They have selected a number of candidates from among whom they hope very much to make one or two appointments [one, should we decide to try to fill one position a the senior level].

I am sorry to report that you are not in this group. We are painfully aware of the difficulty and unreliability of these choices, but they must be made nevertheless. Although it is far from certain we will succeed in our present attempts, we wanted to let you know where you stood so that you may take full advantage of the other opportunities that will surely arise for you in the coming weeks. Needless to say, I will let you know right away should we have occasion to reconsider your candidacy.

Once more, I wish you the best of luck and thank you for the opportunity to consider your candidacy.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel Garber
Chair

Anonymous said...

Is this the one you want?

"Dear Applicant,

Once again I resort to a form letter, this time to report that the committee charged with selecting a manageable number of junior candidates from the ~291 junior applicants for the positions that we have advertised have completed their work. They have selected a number of candidates from among whom they hope very much that we will be able to make one or two appointments [one, should we decide to try to fill one position at the senior level].

I am sorry to report that you are not in this group. We are painfully aware of the difficulty and unreliability of these choices, but they must be made nevertheless. Although it is far from certain that we will succeed in our present attempts, we wanted to let you know where you stood so that you may take full advantage of the other opportunities that will surely arise for you in the coming weeks. Needless to say, I will let you know right away should we have occasion to reconsider your candidacy.

Once more, I wish you best of luck and thank you for the opportunity to consider your candidacy.

Sincerely yours,

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding me, Princeton.

"And the Academy Award for the Maximum in the 'Get Over Yourself' Genus goes to.....PRINCETON!!"

remus lupin, abd said...

As another recepient, I actually thought that the Princeton letter was kind of sweet in its excessive attempts to let you down easy.

that guy said...

Of all the things I like about this blog, the calling out of specific individuals (and calling them names) when they deserve it and when it is cathartic to do so is what I like most.

Anonymous said...

"the other opportunities that will surely arise for you in the coming weeks" -- God, I hate the word 'surely'.

Curiously Rejected said...

Speaking of PFO's, does anyone know the reasoning behind SC chairs sending their emails through department secretaries? And, here, I'm specifically wondering about PFO's that are meant for those who had APA interviews (and so, is it really to avoid having to type out the addresses of 9-12 of us (assuming they did 12-15 interviews)?).

Philosophy Prof said...

Note that sometimes a department does not know whether it will be able to go further down the list beyond its first tier. Often a dean will decide that the search is over if the department can't hire one of its top 3-4, but the dean won't make this decision until after all the initial fly-outs, because deans are really busy presumably. But the fault may not lie with the chair of the SC. This person should not have said that they would contact you either way, but that just means that they blew it, but that doesn't make the person a monster.

juniorperson said...

"Moreover, some schools are in locations most people find very bad."

Since this has the potential to be fun, I suggest a list is in order!

move me the fuck to canada now said...

New Haven is a dreadful place. The entire Bay Area housing market - hell, the housing market in most of the state of California - is ridiculously overpriced. The cheaper areas, like Sacramento and Fresno, are dumps. California just sucks in general. I don't care what anyone says - I fucking HATE Texas... ALL of it. New Jersey is fucking NEW JERSEY, for chrissakes. Need I say more? Thinking about moving to New York? Think again. You're living in Jersey, pal - if you're lucky. The entire East Coast is nice except for, well, shitty weather and New Englanders. Call me crazy but I more or less like Chicago... except for the fact that Brian Leiter is moving here and Martha Nussbaum won't leave... Also the fact that UIC and U. Chicago are both in the middle of fucking NOWHERE by Chicagoland standards.

Hell, who am I kidding? This entire country blows - and not just because of the lack of decent places to live. I'm more concerned with the fact that we're basically a cryptofascist plutocracy and that the best and brightest among us care more about "mereology" and "supervenience" than - oh, I don't know - social justice, for example. And the ones who do actually think they're making a difference by publishing books with lots of fancy game theoretical nonsense for other boojie academics to read. UBC Okanagan, let me in!!!!

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with that Princeton letter? Since the department chair is reporting the decision of a committee that he is presumably not on, how would you prefer he word it? Should Garber have written 285+ personalized letters? I understand the need to vent, but come on. Would some of you have preferred letters that said "Thanks for wasting our time. You can't seriously have thought you were Princeton material."?

i'm not bitter said...

The Princeton letter sounds hauntingly familiar to the one I received when on the market 6+ years ago.

I love the line: "We are painfully aware of the difficulty and unreliability of these choices, but they must be made nevertheless." Our collegues suck at choosing a manageable number, so we have probably chosen poorly (presumably, in not choosing you). We're going to go ahead and continue to live with what we know are probably mistakes. But take care, and PFO.

Anonymous said...

"The Princeton letter sounds hauntingly familiar to the one I received when on the market 6+ years ago."

And me from 8-10 years ago.

Philosophy Prof said...

I don't see what is wrong with the Princeton letter either. One kind of exercise would be to try to craft the letter as we think it should be. Is it really that bad for the letter to speak to the difficulties of landing on a short list, given that there are such difficulties? Should the letter have said that it was EASY for the department to rule you out. That would have been a PFO letter, but the existing letter seems pretty considerate as it stands, or at the very least isn't bad or mean. Maybe it also helps to think of how we would write such a letter when we are eventually department chair, though this is probably impossible to imagine because we can't pretend-experience all the different nuances and pressures of that overall context.

i'm not bitter said...

I think it is worth thinking about what a good rejection letter would look like. Calling them PFO's is supposed to highlight the disingenuousness of politely saying "Fuck Off" -- "please." With the series on the passive voice, PGS has pointed out what makes a bad rejection letter bad, vis. dishonesty and a failure to take responsibility for the decision (usually masked by the passive voice). Yes, there should be some niceties, and I suppose that in certain logical parameters, they are not strictly true -- but that is not what I am complaining about. It is when the desire to be as pleasant in delivering the bad news that results from the institution's decisions turns into lying -- saying bad news is not bad news -- and/or not the result of the institution's decision.

What's wrong with the Princeton letter is that it seems to be saying that they are mistaken to reject me. I don't think one can believe one is actually making a mistake while one is making it! You could think that you might be mistaken or maybe even probably are mistaken. But to be "painfully aware" that one's choices are "unreliable," and to make them anyway, would be insane or stupid, if this expressed a genuine belief. I believe it does not reflect a genuine belief.

The extreme in honest rejections might just be a letter whose entire body was "No." or "Your application has been rejected."

A rejection letter could be painfully honest: "We are happy to report that after considering your qualifications, we will be sparing each other the painful experience of having to meet in an interview, since you are not at all suited to this position." For some of the places to which I applied, all claims here would be true, but tough to read.

As I say, it should probably have some niceties. How about: "It is my sad to duty to report that after considering your application and our needs, we have found that your qualifications are not well suited for this position. Thank you for your interest and we wish you well in your future endeavors."

The point is, I don't want to read "It's not you, it's us." or "You are no longer being considered." The truth would be "We are no longer considering you, since we believe other applicants would be better."

Anonymous said...

"New Jersey is fucking NEW JERSEY, for chrissakes. Need I say more?"

My guess is that anyone who thinks this only know of Newark and the other northern industrial areas over the water from the City, and the major northern cities (AC and Camden, I'm looking at you).

There's a reason New Jersey is called the Garden State--south of the industrial hellhole that is Sopranosland it's bucolic, and incredibly wealthy. (Think the Hamptons before new money rolled in.) Of course, this also means sky-high property prices, but NJ academic salaries are commensurate with them, so this isn't much of a problem.

Let's put it this way--who *wouldn't* want to live in Princeton, or a similar area within easy reach of NYC? Anyone?

For really shitty places, look to the Deep South! There's a reason that horror films are set there, and it ain't for the tax breaks...

Anonymous said...

For those of you pissed with the Princeton letter, I have included one below that is truer to the feelings of Princeton's search committee:

Dear Applicant,

Once again I resort to a form letter, this time to report that the committee charged with selecting a manageable number of junior candidates has completed their work.

I am happy to report that you are not in this group. Rather you are in the group of ~200 junior applicants that composed our 'what the fuck' group. In essence you are in the group that stood no chance in hell of getting a job a Princeton. You not only wasted you (or your department's) money in photocopy fees and postage, you wasted our valuable time in perusing your file. Really, could your self-assessment have been so far off that you truly thought you had a shot at Princeton?

In closing, I would just like to ask that you not bother to apply to Princeton in the future. Your name has been blackballed, and your file will not be read again, and so we ask that you never again clog up our mailbox.

On a positive note, I am sure that there are community colleges and other unranked schools that might be desperate enough for your mediocre skills that to hire you, so there is a chance that you might find academic employment in the next 5 years or so. If so, congratulations.

In any case, Please Fuck Off.

Sincerely yours,

fuck all of this said...

Ah, how could I forget the Deep South? Thanks for reminding me. Actually, the entire south sucks as far as I'm concerned. That includes Virginia and the Carolinas. Yuck. And let's not forget the Great Plains and the Dakotas and places like Idaho and Montana. Some nice scenery in the latter, I suppose, but unless you're a fucking cattle rancher or whatever, not particularly nice places to live. As for Jersey, I'd almost grant you a touche except that SoJersey has that whole mid-Atlantic vibe which I find unspeakably gross and obnoxious. And who cares about proximity to NYC? I hate New York. It's the most overrated city that has EVER existed (except, perhaps, for Prague). Let's face it - I just hate the United States. Don't get me wrong - there are some really pretty places and cool cities that are worth visiting on, say, a vacation, but the entire culture of this country (including the academic culture) is so fucked up and backwards and sick that I really just want to get the fuck out. So, here's a question for you Canadians out there (or people who have experience living and/or working in Canada): We all know that the Canadian schools give preference to Canadian citizens, but beyond that, are there any particulars that count in a jaded American's favor on the Canadian job market? Is it really true, as some asshat suggested to me, that Canadian schools (even the less prestigious ones) will only consider American candidates if they come from Princeton and the like? Related question: someone suggested to me that it's easier for Americans to get jobs in the UK than Canada. Is THAT true? Doesn't seem to make much sense, but the dude in question (who was a Brit I was chatting with at the APA) said that the UK is experiencing a major brain drain in philosophy. Apparently THEY'RE all coming over HERE.

Hold that tiger! said...

The real reason that Princeton is so "selective" is because new hires, who are typically male, are required to have their penises covered in solid gold within six months of appointment. (The process is performed under general anaesthesia at a posh Princeton hospital by a well-known plastic surgeon-cum-goldsmith. All expenses are paid by the College. The golden penis is conveniently designed to accommodate the penis in both its erect AND flaccid states, and urinating is never a problem thanks to the awesome oee-hole bored at the tip.) If you are retained for a second year, you are required to undergo special experimental drug treatment which transforms your feces into solid gold upon coming into contact with the air. It also causes all gastrointensinal movements, including routine flatulence, to smell like lilacs or other botanical fragrances of your choice. (Women are required to undergo this treatment immediately upon being hired. There is an additional process for women that coincides with first-year review, but the nature of said process remains a tightly-guarded secret.)

If you're lucky enough to remain at Princeton for 4+ years, a considerable portion of your brain will be replaced by cybernetic modules. There are no unpleasant side effects (however, your ability to experience or express emotion and/or to interact with other human beings in socially acceptable manners will be severely impaired and gradually destroyed. If questioned about your sudden "change" you are required to claim that you have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.)

Princeton University is generally gracious enough to pay for divorce proceedings, child support, and any other unfortunate financial repercussions which may result from golden penises, potpourri shit, and neurosurgery which basically transforms you into a heartless robot. (To sweeten the deal: An estimate 25% of patients who undergo these procedures end up giving invited lectures with fancy names honoring some "famous" dead philosopher whose name even the educated public doesn't recognize.)

Anonymous said...

10:27 cute, somewhat funny. Though for the record, here are Princeton's most recent hires:

Delia Graf Fara
Mike Graf Fara
Liz Harman
Desmond Hogan
Sarah-Jane Leslie
Sarah McGrath

(Can't tell whether B. Mount is tenure track)

That's only a third of a penis per hire!

hold that tiger... said...

Pshaw! This is obviously owing to a shortage in gold!

TT in Canada said...

Hi 9:52AM,
I'm a Canadian citizen and I have a TT job at a Canadian university.
All Canadian ads say they will hire Canadians first because this is a federal employment regulation. But many universities, (especially the University of Toronto) disregard it. Consistently. In fact, I can't recall a Canadian hire in that department in the past 5 years except for Gopal Srineevasan. So don't be afraid to apply for Canadian jobs; they hire Americans and Europeans all the time...

ttprof said...

I got a similar letter from Princeton a while back. I had to resist the urge to write back: "That's ok, love. We can be friends".

For those of you on the market: I recommend burning the PFO letters. It's healing. It worked for me. (Warning: Keep a bucket of water close at hand if you collect as many PFOs as I did. My place nearly caught fire.)

Anonymous said...

"I don't think one can believe one is actually making a mistake while one is making it!"

This happens ALL THE TIME in life. Only a philosopher could believe this is uncommon. Often in life, people are forced to make a choice, even though they don't know the correct answer. Haven't you ever taken a multiple choice test with no penalty for guessing?

Anonymous said...

"The golden penis is conveniently designed to accommodate the penis in both its erect AND flaccid states"

Are you really suggesting that the Princeton professor's penis is ever flaccid?

i'm not bitter said...

Anon 8:15,

I do not think it is possible to choose answer B, if I believe B is the WRONG choice. I have not know the correct answer and so guessed at A, C or D, but choosing B, when you know it is not-B, is stupid or insane. Princeton claims I am being excluded by an un-reliable system -- which would literally mean it is at least unlikely to producce good results. (This is also what I understood the statement about the uncertainty of success to mean -- they're probably going to hire the wrong person (or no one at all)). If this were honest, why are they still using this system? I don't think it is honest -- and really not very comforting. It seems to say that even Princeton is in the grips of an absurd system, which while it might be true, is depressing as hell.

Mr. Zero said...

anon 9:02,

I'm sorry, I disagree with you. I think people do the equivalent of picking B when they know B is the wrong answer all the time. It's called weakness of will. You've got some alternatives; you know this one here is a mistake; you do it anyway.

Of course, Socrates was on your side. Unfortunately, Socrates was wrong.

Anonymous said...

More crap places!

Stillwater, OK and Lubbock, TX are certainly in the running. Millsaps is in Jackson, MS--a town where shacks are common but working electricity a rarity. LSU is in Baton Rouge. In "Angel Heart" Lucifer notes that he's on his way to a speaking engagement there, and it's easy to see why. Urban sprawl from white flight, neighborhoods with a 90% voting record for former Klansman David Duke, vacant lots galore, Confederate flags in LSU colors, a downtown that makes the Marie Celeste look vibrant, plus serial killers, the no.2 growth in AIDS in the country, and fly-tipped asbestos! Plus, when I was there at a conference a few years ago the EPISTEMOLOGIST at LSU Department was a new-earth Creationist who took the Bible literally.... He probably has tenure now.

But just in case you thought the South had cornered the market on crap locations, think of all those small colleges in rural Wyoming, the Dakotas, or Kansas, where tenure is granted to all who appear at least partly sane when they apply for it....

i'm not bitter said...

Mr. Zero,

I don't think yours are relevant counter-examples. Of course, there is weakness of the will, but I don't think it applies in cognitive/deliberative cases we're talking about. I can't believe it is really a problem for a test-taker to choose B, simply because she can't help herself. She knows she should know better, but B just has that je ne sais quois! No. I don't believe I could know cognitively B is the WRONG answer, but I make the mark that indicates I believe B is the RIGHT answer. (OK, alternative occurs to me -- I am lying or mistakenly fill in the wrong bubble. Again not the cases under consideration.) I don't think Princeton eliminated my app because the committee knew better (they knew I was (probably) a better choice since they say the choice to eliminate me was unreliable), but just could not help themselves. (Oh, how will they ever succeed?!?) Again, the main point is, for them to say they knew, or probably knew, they were making a mistake is disingenuous. I believe they pretty much get the people they want, and these people are better philosophers than I am. Fine, say so . . . politely and respectfully. I'll get the message from a PFO letter or a respectful one (or just from not getting a contract come September). I think we are right to complain about PFO's, dishonest and squirrelly letters and no letters at all, though.

canadian grad said...

My sense is that many respectable Canadian departments covet the returning Canadian - a Canadian citizen who went south to get a PhD at Princeton or the like.

Also, I think it's fairly common for a Canadian department to hire Americans from the bottom half of Leiterland.

Anonymous said...

As I read it, Princeton isn't implying that their decision will end up being arbitrary. All they are doing is recognizing the possibility that buried somewhere in the rejection pile is someone who 10 years from now will be a bigger deal than the person they end up choosing. This doesn't mean that they aren't confident that they will pick a great candidate. It doesn't even mean that they think it especially likely that the best philosopher will have been rejected. It just means that they are aware that they are making a decision based on potential, and that sometimes a Tony Romo goes undrafted. This is NOTHING like knowingly making the wrong decision. Acknowledging this isn't even close to being disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

"i'm not bitter": I hate to break it to you, but if that is the clarity of your usual philosophical writing, you're in the wrong business.

Mr. Zero said...

I'm not bitter,

Sorry, I still disagree with you. I think there are loads of ways someone might do something while knowing it's the wrong choice. Further, that's not what Princeton is doing here. Princeton is one of the very few departments who publicly recognize that it's difficult, if not impossible, to get reliable information about the quality of applicants. And it's one of just a couple that has made an attempt to allow this fact to shape its hiring practices. I don't think there's anything weird or inconsistent with them admitting that they're basically sort of guessing, especially when that's the best they can do.

Anonymous said...

What can "unreliable" mean unless "known to be prone to fail"? If it just meant "not certain to succeed" it would be trivial.

"The unreliable test results are in, and according to those, you are cancer-free! Congratulations!"