Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Inside a philosophy search (from the labor demand side)

Lou Marinoff describes the search process that led to the hiring of two philosophers this year at City College of the City University of New York. They received 637 applications. They could have used an electronic application process...

"This posed a major filing challenge since less well-organized applicants sent in their materials in dribs and drabs. Hundreds of letters of recommendation not bundled with applications had to be opened, tallied and filed. At times, six boxes had to be displaced to file one piece of paper. It became a common sight to behold members of our search committee trundling half a dozen boxes to their offices on handcarts so they could keep up with the incoming deluge."

"The committee’s next task was to compile a “long list” of applicants to interview at the upcoming American Philosophical Association (APA) Eastern Division annual meeting. We had less than four weeks to identify and notify the candidates we wanted to meet with in time for the event, held December 27–30 in Philadelphia."

"How did we prune our field from 637 to 27? An important selection criterion was holding a Ph.D. from a good university. ...
A second criterion was research and publication. ...
Third, we needed evidence of undergraduate teaching ability as well as versatility. ...We looked for evidence of outstanding teaching ability, variety, and potential for curriculum development.
Finally, we wanted evidence of administrative service. "

After the interviews came the flyouts:
"We attained consensus on six finalists whom we invited to campus in February 2009. They ran a gauntlet of meetings, and each one had to give a “guest lecture” for an undergraduate course in progress – as opposed to reading a paper in a departmental colloquium. We knew they could all read and write well enough, or they wouldn’t have been finalists."

And finally came the negotiations with the administration
"Not long after handing our final rankings to Dean Reynolds, he called me into his office. He informed me that the abundant fruits of our search, and the energy we had invested in it, had not escaped the notice of our senior administration. Prudentially, I recalled the second of three infamous Chinese curses: “May the government be aware of you.” But this time it was a blessing."

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