Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The courtesy of a reach-around?

In the spirit of using this blog for good rather than evil (or at least, for a change, optimism rather than pessimism), I have a proposal: let's give props to people or departments who were actually kind of cool about any part of the job market process.

So, how about it? Any place send you a particularly humane rejection letter? Anyone take you out for an especially nice dinner during a campus visit? Anything else, big or small, that you want to encourage other schools to get on board with? Maybe even something that would be obvious to normal human beings, but that only a handful of philosophers managed to figure out?

We can have a hall of shame discussion later on, if y'all like. Lord knows, there are plenty of horror stories I'd love to tell. But for now, let's focus on the people who deserve some credit for actually doing things right.

-- PGOAT

24 comments:

mr. zero said...

The University of Chicago sent me a really nice PFO a few months ago; I wrote about it in a comment here a while ago. In it they told me that I didn't get hired but took responsibility for not hiring me, wished me luck, and expressed confidence that I'd find a position somewhere. I'm not naive enough to think that they really thought that I, in particular, would eventually find a job, but the sheer courtesy of it was breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

Douglas Lackey from Baruch College sent me a personal e-mail explaining why I wasn't coming to campus after the APA interview about 10 days after the Eastern APA. It was everything this kind of e-mail should be. It was a great interview (and I have had many on both sides), and he was kind and professional in his dealings with me. If people want to learn how to write a letter of regret and rejection, talk to Professor Lackey!

Anonymous said...

Not in philosophy, but in a sort of related humanities field.

UBC Okanagan is filled with wonderful people. They flew me in from overseas, paying for everything up front. They put me up in a fancy hotel, gave me a generous per diem meal allowance, rented me a (nice) car. They asked brilliant questions after my talk and complimented me on my answers. They took me out for delicious meals at the nicest restaurants in town. Although they took a while to come to a decision, they kept me updated, and the eventual rejection letter was personal, three paragraphs long and filled with specific praise about things I'd done; it specified that the ONLY reason I didn't get the job was that my research area wasn't quite what they were looking for.

I'm still in touch with two members of that committee, and I may end up working on a collaborative project with one of them. Seriously, I cannot say enough wonderful things about that school.

Anonymous said...

MIT and UNC both sent me personalised letters (mentioned specifically my research and other things). Both nicely stroked my ego while also telling me they wouldn't be hiring anyone in my field...ever. Bob Stalnaker's letter was particularly nice. Getting a PFO never felt so good. Props to both places.

Anonymous said...

In what field is MIT never hiring?

cst said...

By far, my best experience was with Cal State Northridge.
They made it very clear they wanted to do whatever they could, so that I could do my best in the APA interview. Along these lines, they told me exactly what they were going to cover in the interview, rather than vaguely indicating they would ask me about teaching and research. They even stressed that they were going to ask me how I would teach in a very diverse environment and that I should be able to handle such a question.
The day after the APA was over, they called to tell me that I wasn't getting an on-campus. I've gotten many a rejection letter; but only one rejection phone call.

Anonymous said...

This is off-topic, but I thought it might interest readers of this blog, assuming they haven't already read about it. It's the "2007-08 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession". For those who don't want to pore thru the whole thing, here are the "highlights". Enjoy! (I hope this ain't a "repost"....)

Anonymous said...

harvey siegel of miami appended a hand-written message at the end of the form-letter rejection i got after an APA interview, saying it had been a pleasure to meet me, and that he was sure i would get a great job. there's a big difference psychologically between getting a rejection from a place you didn't get an APA interview, and getting one after you've spent 45 minutes chatting to people. so i thought this small gesture was super nice.

Anonymous said...

I remember Yeshiva gave me a very nice rejection letter - unfortunately, in my moving over the past couple days I recycled it. Princeton's final rejection letter was also very nice, but maybe that's because I was one of the "approximately 23" candidates that they were considering somewhat late in the game.

Also, I think UW Madison deserves praise for their interview format, in which one of the members of the committee had studied the writing sample well enough to present it to everyone. I was there to answer questions, and we could have a much more in-depth discussion as a result of the effort they had put in. They even made a handout for my presentation!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:37,

I guess I'm a bit different than you. If I was interviewed, and especially if I had a flyout and then it was indicated to me that they would not hire someone in my field, I would be pissed and would lose all respect for the dept. Wasting my time and not dealing with me in good faith is certainly not a way to win my admiration, no matter how many paatronizing lies that fed me.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 3:01, you get that stick removal surgery yet? I suggest you calm the fuck down and stop harshing everyone's buzz. Damn, yo!

Anonymous said...

Okay, pure panic mode: I'm near the end of my dissertation and am now thinking that All Is Crap. Since we're swapping stories here, any good ones about the woes of finishing a dissertation? I'm vacillating between panic and relief, but mostly panic right now...Any good stories out there?

Anonymous said...

David Reidy at Tennessee was really good about keeping me informed about the status of my candidacy during every step of their search process. After my campus visit, he told me exactly when their hiring committee was planning to decide, let me know right away when they'd made an offer to someone else, told me exactly how much time that person would have to decide before they'd make an offer to the next person on the list, and told me right away when their offer was accepted because he knew I had another offer outstanding. (And then later, when he read on Leiter's blog that I'd taken a job somewhere else, he sent me a congratulatory email.)

And it's not just me. A friend of mine told me he was just as good about keeping her informed, and she was in the group of people who they would have had to campus if they'd gone for a second round of flyouts. So I can only assume that he was this good about keeping all the candidates in the loop

I think that one of the most stressful things about the whole job search process is the waiting and the uncertainty, and UT's example shows that so much of it is entirely unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

I had a campus interview at U Miami that ended early in the afternoon, but my flight wasn't until late that evening. Rather than make me check out that morning and drag my luggage around the city while I tried to amuse myself before my flight, they booked me an extra night in the hotel (even though I wasn't technically staying over that night) just so that I could go back and relax in my room after the interview and before my flight. It was such a thoughtful gesture and, at the end of the two-day campus interview process, very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:11,

Not sure quite what you mean by "All is Crap," but if it's that you think all your philosophical views defended and the arguments you offer in the dissertation are pretty weak, that may not be unusual. At least, that was kind of my experience. Probably due to the fact that I knew better than most everyone else how many objections could be raised against my view and where exactly others could counter my own arguments. Goes with having thought about the issue through and through for several years and having read all the critics of my own views.

Anonymous said...

Re: the AAUP economic report...interesting, but not things we didn't really already know; also too whiny and the authors sound like they have an agenda; sounds like a piece written by the UAW or Teamsters or NRA.

Indignation and outrage and protests won't fix the problem. Time will fix the problem; the labor market will correct itself. Of course, the first step is to educate others that academics is more important than football or any one sport so coaches wouldn't be over-valued than they (allegedly) are.

The 'academy' isn't even really the academy anymore; it has been corrupted by money (local and federal funding issues, corporate research ties, a glut and desperation of applicants that enables the academy to rely more on less-well-paid adjuncts.

Of course it sounds grossly unfair that a football coach would make 10x more than a full professer. But by creating a financial relationship with and revenue stream directly from the public to the academy remind us that academy's must run as a business in the final analysis. They cannot survive withour revenue to pay for employees, property, etc. So financials will ALWAYS take priority over academics. I don't like it, but it's an acceptable answer in a pragmatic world.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:10pm: "...sounds like a piece written by the UAW or Teamsters or NRA."

Right. What we need more of nowadays is suspicion of labor organizations! And more faith in the slow but steady Invisible Hand of our lovely free market!

But wait... Isn't that suspicion what got us into this mess - i.e. basically corporate-takeover - in the first place?

The labor market would "correct itself" only if we lived in a free market system, which we don't of course.

Anonymous said...

After my job talk at UT Austin, I was at the pub with a few people when I got a call from Southwest Airlines saying my flight home that night had been cancelled. So I arranged to be on the first flight out the next morning. Not only did Jonathan Dancy offer to have me over to his house and cook me dinner, but after I declined (because I wanted to try to get some sleep before waking up exceedingly early to get to the airport) he drove me to my hotel and arranged for them to put me up for another night at the department's expense. I had a lot of good interactions with people on the job market, but as far as looking out for me personally that one certainly stood out.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, the first step is to educate others that academics is more important than football or any one sport..."

Nonsense like this could only be tauted by an academic. There is nothing more important than college football. (Unless we're talking about the fate of one's immortal soul, I guess. And that's only a mere 'maybe')

Anonymous said...

Don Hubin of OSU was extremely professional and courteous throughout the process. He called to tell me I wouldn't be flown out -- not a fun call to get, obviously, but humane and respectful, and in the end very much appreciated.

P.G.O.A.T. said...

What follows is a comment from someone anon. I've redacted it to keep some third parties out of it, but it makes CU look good, so I wanted to post it. Apologies to the original commentor--sorry for the heavy editorial hand. But I wanted to get your basic story up here. -- PGOAT

I asked about [why my application didn't do better] at CU Boulder, and I received a very reasonable, detailed, respectful, and kind e-mail response.

Carl S. said...

I'd like to thank James Maffie of Colorado State for a great APA interview. In addition to talking about how I'd teach certain courses and general pedagogy, we spent about a half hour discussing my current research. His comments were insightful and helpful; I'm doing the final edit on the paper that I was starting then, and footnote #1 thanks to him because his suggestions really improved the argument. JM: if you read this, I'll send you an offprint when it's published.

thecocktailhour said...

i second the praise for don hubin of OSU: he did the same for me that 6:07 mentions, and sent an email congratulating me on my job (elsewhere). what a nice guy.

Anonymous said...

Okay, we've been nice, now I'm throwing in my vote for a "hall of shame" thread.