Category Archives: the job fairy is not smiling

October 13, 2013, 11:52 am

Crossing on a Yellow Light: Ten Questions To Ask Prospective Graduate Students

crosswalk2-petitinventionLongtime readers of the Radical know that it is one of my policies not to write about real people, but I’m going to break that rule to make an important announcement.

I said no to writing a graduate school recommendation for a candidate applying to PhD programs in history.

That’s right, me. Me, who thinks it paternalistic to keep intelligent people out of graduate school. Me, who believes fervently that our nation would be better off with better-educated people in it (if you don’t believe this, pick any Tea Party congressperson at random and ask that person a question about the female reproductive system, what the Bible or the Constitution actually says, political history, race and/or how government works.)

Let me just say: I did not turn this student away for political or ideological reasons, or because said person does not deserve a shot at a career in history. My…

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July 12, 2013, 9:43 am

Do Big Bucks for High Profile Guest Profs Petray Public Education?

Petraeus_Khawam Kelley-award

David Petraeus and gal pal Paula Broadwell

In a word? Yes.

We at Tenured Radical would like to urge greater public scrutiny of the CUNY policies that permitted the appointment of General David Petraeus as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at well over 30 times the average adjunct salary. For teaching one seminar each semester in 2013-14, the retired military dude is expected to receive somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000. The best part is all he has to do is show up: he has three teaching assistants who will put the course together and grade all fifteen students.

That’s one TA for every five students. I know this number is correct ’cause I checked it on my calculator.

For starters, I would like to hear from some of our mayoral candidates, as well as Eliot Spitzer, who announced his candidacy for…

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February 29, 2012, 1:24 pm

Radical But Not Tenured: Reflections from an Unemployed ABD

By “Sam Concord”

Today’s guest blogger is a pseudonymous graduate student from a major research university and a future tenured radical. Super-qualified, unemployed, and nearly finished with his degree,  Sam reflects on his six years in graduate school and how he has practiced the art of failure.

I am crawling to the finish line of graduate school with six publications, one mostly-finished dissertation, two major teaching awards, and no job. As I wait to go on the market again next year, I’m doing my best to embrace what Jack Halberstam calls the new ways of being opened up by failure. These benefits include the time and space to figure out what I’ve been doing for the past six years.

In this spirit, I offer you four versions of this story: Superhero Sam, Naked Sam, Terrorist Sam, and CV Sam.

Superhero Sam. One highlight of graduate school was not dying when a driver …

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December 19, 2011, 1:05 pm

History and the Politics of Scholarly Collaboration, Part I: Or, Why Anthony Grafton Is a Rock Star

Meet Anthony Grafton, the AHA's Jonathan Swift

Have you followed American Historical Association president Anthony Grafton’s serial meditation on how graduate schools might respond to a bad academic job market? A market that has, since the the 1970s, been either stagnant or getting worse? A market with whose effects the blogosphere is obsessed?

If you haven’t, you need to catch up.  For “No More Plan B” (October 2011) and “Plan C” (November 2011), both co-written with Jim Grossman for the AHA newsletter Perspectives, go here and here. For an article about “Plan B” by Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed (October 3 2011) go here; and for a response by graduate student Dan Alloso (UMass-Amherst) go here. (more…)

November 29, 2011, 4:16 pm

This Will Be The Second Year In A Row….

We thought that the demise of law school was as likely as this.

…that I have had no requests for law or business school recommendations.  Zero. Between graduates who had taken a year or so off and students heading right into the chute, I used to average between 5 and 10 law and biz recs every fall.  Also popular for a while were public health degrees, master’s in social work and master’s in urban design programs.  But I have had no requests for those either. Applications for the Ph.D. have pretty much petered out, although interestingly, these are the only requests for recommendations I have received since spring 2009. Last year I had two grads go off immediately to American Studies programs, and I am starting to send off recommendations for another prospective Ph.D. candidate now. (more…)

November 27, 2011, 11:29 am

Even More Annals of the Great Depression: A Job Market Carnival

It’s the last day of Thanksgiving break, which means the job season (for what it is worth) is about to go into high gear. Longtime Readers of the Radical will recall that one of my early posting categories was the job market (tag lines also include “the job fairy,” “the job fairy is not smiling” and “the job fairy is smiling.”) When I began this blog, it is quite possible that I had served on and/or chaired more searches than almost anyone my age. (more…)

April 19, 2011, 6:40 pm

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun: The Radical Responds To Her Critics

Tenured radical faculty have too much, others have nothing.

This is a follow-up on yesterday’s post, which unexpectedly turned into a brawl. Late-night anonymous commenters had issues with my inability to recognize that they are always right and that I am causing their oppression.  How did this happen? 

Let’s roll the videotape:

I suggested (I deliberately did not make this a law, because I do not believe in coercion and I use my super powers with restraint and wisdom) that people who take full-time visiting faculty jobs should make themselves available to work full time, as opposed to teaching one or two days a week because they are traveling several hours each way from Big City.  Fulfilling this obligation (something that would be a normal expectation anywhere but in academia and e-trading) could mean moving to or near the place of employ, or making arrangements to spend several nights a …

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March 21, 2011, 10:48 pm

Ask The Radical: Search Committee Smackdown, Part Eleventy

Buy this poster while you wait.

It’s that time of the year again.  You’ve gotten all gussied up in your glad rags.  You polished your power point and talked the talk. You perfected the technique of subtly checking your teeth with your bread knife at dinner.  You left — well, you left that fly-back academic interview feeling good about yourself.  And then:

Nothing.  They never call, they never write…..

Dear Professor Radical,

I have appreciated your blogs about the job market.   I’ve tried to follow the rules– both written and unwritten.

Could you post another one about the rules for search committees? The closer I get to a job without getting it, the more their etiquette seems to break down. I’m a big girl and I can handle rejection. But I don’t like this awkward silence for weeks after the interview.  It makes me feel like a dirty one night stand. 

 If a search committee chair doesn’t …

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January 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

Playing The Blame Game: Or; How Should Graduate Schools Respond To The Bad Job Market?

Over at ConfessionsOf A Community College Dean your favorite administrator and mine, Dean Dad, asks: “Why do people still go to grad school in the liberal arts?”

Good question. Although I have no former undergraduates making the leap into a Ph.D. program this year, the bigger picture is quite different. As Dean Dad notes, “the adjunct trend is so well-established at this point, and the economic irrationality of grad school so screamingly obvious, that it’s fair to wonder why many departments are actually experiencing record applications.” While he explores various irrational explanations — love for learning, self-delusion, and hiding out until the recession is over — there is, he argues, some rationality to the choice:

academia still offers a surface legibility. Yes, the odds are daunting, but good students have spent years rising to the top of academic competitions. There’s still a…

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