I once heard a very senior faculty member make this observation: “There is prejudice aplenty about candidates’ doctoral alma maters. An odd one is that you can move south and you can move west, but you will have a very difficult time moving north or east from your alma mater.” He told me that he had developed this theory after serving on many search committees and watching dozens of tenure and promotion applications work their way through review committees.
At the time, I thought the advice was fairly quirky, wondering, of course, what graduates from the University of Miami or Stanford University would do for jobs (in both cases they do just fine!), but over the years, I’ve seen this play out on at least an anecdotal scale. At the same time, I’ve noted another related geographical factor: Candidates who possess degrees from institutions in various geographical regions likewise seem to hold advantages over uni-regional candidates.
I suppose that there are cultural issues at play here: When I moved from Mississippi to New York as a child, I was put in speech therapy and my mother had a difficult time finding a job because we sounded “dumb,” as one fellow townsperson openly termed it. On the other hand, I’ve known many Northerners who have been ill-treated in the deep South because they are perceived as being rude and uncollegial.
Does geographical snobbery occur in job searches, especially among the more sought-after positions at research-intensive institutions?