March 13, 2013, 1:42 pm
While there are occasional exceptions, most colleges that extend invitations to job candidates for on-campus interviews provide reimbursement for their travel expenses. Most professional organizations affirm the practice, as does basic good manners.
Since travel involves the expenditure of actual money, I am constantly surprised by how long it takes for reimbursements to be processed in some situations. Oddly, this cuts in both directions: Sometimes visitors take weeks or even months to send in their receipts for reimbursement; worse, sometimes institutions take forever to process the receipts. This is particularly egregious in the case of graduate students because dollars are dear to them and having to carry interview expenses as credit-card debt is downright odious. When the interview fails to result in a job offer, it merely adds insult to injury to have to semi-grovel for…
March 6, 2013, 1:07 pm
Inspiration for career advice can emerge from the most unusual places. This week it comes from Rome, where cardinals from around the world have convened to select the next pope.
The centuries-old selection process begins once the cardinals are locked inside the Sistine Chapel and ends with a plume of white smoke, the signal that a new pope has been chosen. Each cardinal disguises his handwriting as he writes the name of a colleague on a ballot. He folds it, carries it to the altar, and places it on a plate, which is then tipped so that the ballot falls into a large chalice. Votes from the chalice are counted and announced, and the process continues over and over again until one candidate receives two thirds of the votes. While no rule forbids a cardinal from lobbying for votes or even writing down his own name, the sin of pride makes such actions unseemly.
We might want to remember…
February 25, 2013, 1:04 pm
On Seinfeld, George Costanza once tried to decide if he should tell a girlfriend that he loved her, which would be the first time he had uttered that phrase. When he discussed the situation with friends, Jerry warned him that it was a huge risk: the unreturned “I love you.” As he phrased it, “That’s a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there.”
The internal candidate in a genuine national job search faces the same conundrum. If you apply, you risk having your colleagues on the search committee fail to return your metaphorical love, which can lead to hard feelings. Members of a search committee cannot (or at least should not) reveal their private discussions, and when internal candidates are not selected, it can lead to all sorts of prognostications and even rumors.
I have been an internal candidate for several positions that involved national searches, and it was always awkward and a…
January 22, 2013, 11:21 am
“When she was young, Mary saw a brilliant and original man lose his job because he had expressed ideas that were offensive to the trustees of the college where they both taught. She shared his views but did not sign the protest petition.”
So begins Tobias Wolff’s short story, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.” Mary, a historian, recognizes that she too is always on trial in one sense or another, and in response she perfects a kind of unimpeachable blandness, carefully scripting her lectures with the arguments and words of approved writers “so she would not by chance say something scandalous.” She’s not quite apolitical (even that might draw negative attention), but politically correct, and she favors causes too harmless and eccentric to concern anyone else. Tellingly, her book begins, “It is generally believed that … .”
When I first read the story, several years ago, …
January 18, 2013, 10:48 am
“Barbara” was excited to receive an offer for an on-campus interview, her first since going on the market as a very advanced A.B.D. candidate. She dazzled the host department and found the campus to be buzzing with a positive spirit. When the dean called her to offer her the position, she was, frankly, dumbfounded that she had landed a position the first time out of the gate.
A week later, the actual contract arrived by registered mail, her signature being the only remaining part of the process. When she looked at it and saw the institution’s president’s blue-inked scrawl on the last page, along with all of the minutia of the contract language, she broke out into a cold sweat. Her mind raced: “What if I can get an even better job?” “Do I really want to move to another state?” “Do I even want this job?” Her cold feet suddenly paralyzed her and she let the contract languish on her desk …
November 19, 2012, 3:05 pm
I recently returned from the Council of Independent Colleges’ Chief Academic Officers Institute, the annual meeting of vice presidents for academic affairs and provosts at small and medium-size private colleges in the United States and a smattering of international locations. This is one of my favorite meetings of the year because hundreds of people who face similar challenges get together to discuss how to solve them, or at least deal with them, and we tend to speak a common language fostered by the nature of our work.
One of the more interesting sessions I attended was about faculty-workload considerations and creating “faculty friendly” flexibility policies at Albright College, in Pennsylvania. The session’s definition of flexibility was very broad, including distributing each faculty member’s workload across the traditional areas of teaching, scholarship, and institutional and…
November 12, 2012, 9:27 am
Since I am just a few months into a two-year postdoc, this fall I’m pursuing only a couple of dream jobs. As it turns out, a good friend of mine was recently hired at one of the institutions that has caught my eye, so I called him up before sending off my application.
Mainly I just wanted to ask if he thought I would stand a chance. Since the position is open rank, I know senior scholars will be attracted as well. After all, the school enjoys a wonderful reputation in the field, is located in a particularly desirable part of the country, and attracts exceptional students.
Not everything my friend told me was comforting. For instance, he let it slip that one of my recommenders is also applying. Still, he encouraged me to give it a shot, and he let me know that he would tell his friends on the search committee to keep an eye out for my dossier. Perhaps more importantly, he was able…
November 2, 2012, 3:18 pm
In a recent post, I noted that sometimes people cut back-office deals that add value but not salary to their compensation. I thought I’d revisit the topic of nonsalary perks.
Because salaries are taxable, I’ve known of faculty members who constantly were on the lookout for ways to trade perks for raises. In my travels and conversations with other administrators, I’ve heard of one guy who said that if he could move to a nicer office, he’d bypass a raise for a couple of years. I hear frequently of faculty members who have traded several years’ worth of raises for decreased teaching loads or even research assistants. In the early days of the World Wide Web, I knew of a faculty member who talked his college into paying for Internet at his house rather than providing him a raise.
Sometimes collective-bargaining authorities get in on this, adding benefits in lieu of some portions of…
October 23, 2012, 2:41 pm
With academe suffering from a number of disruptive forces these days, the pressure is on to find innovative ways to handle budgets, including new strategies for faculty compensation. I heard a senior administrator recently say that his institution had moved to embrace full pay parity. In this paradigm, faculty members of equal qualifications and years of experience are paid the same wages, regardless of academic specialty. An accounting professor is paid the same as a nursing faculty member as an English faculty member as a chemistry faculty member. He said that this plan reflected his campus’s commitment to fairness and community.
This topic has come up frequently lately in online discussions and at conference-table chats. As a chief academic officer, I cannot imagine how hard it is to recruit for high-demand fields when the salaries are necessarily compressed relative to other…
October 22, 2012, 3:12 pm
I recently attended the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in Los Angeles, which got me thinking about some of the ways the sustainability movement has affected academic hiring.
To me, as an academic leader, one of the most interesting things about the AASHE conference was how clearly it showed that sustainability as a discipline is, to borrow a term, a “digital native.” Much of the conference took place via social media, and it was apparent as well that developments in academic sustainability are moving in close parallel with discussions about the crisis in higher education, including discussions about cost, access, student-loan debt, and new forms of delivery such as MOOC’s, more basic online programs, various kinds of crowdsourcing, and new models such as Khan Academy.
These connections make sense because the major…