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lds_question
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« on: July 01, 2011, 9:37:54 PM »

(familiar poster under a new moniker, to try to keep this anonymous if I can...)

There's a job open at BYU.  I'm not LDS.  I grew up in CA with LDS friends and feel pretty comfortable with the culture; on the other hand I'm not even Christian (I'm Baha'i, though I keep my personal religious views pretty quiet when on any campus unless asked directly)...does anyone out there have any words of wisdom on whether this will matter at BYU? 

Every single faculty member on the department website did their BA at BYU, so something tells me I wouldn't "fit" what they want; on the other hand I'm hoping there's an appropriate way to say "I am open-minded and willing to play by your rules, and I really would be interested in this job since I knew lots of smart, nice LDS kids growing up who went to BYU, and besides I'd love to be an academic in a culture that didn't think I was crazy for wanting lots of children."  (Deep inside I am rolling my eyes about rules like "no coffee" and "no sleeveless shirts" but on the outside I am willing to suck it up and deal.  I think.)

I will AFTDJ; just hoping for advice on how to proceed.


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concordancia
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2011, 9:55:48 PM »

(familiar poster under a new moniker, to try to keep this anonymous if I can...)

There's a job open at BYU.  I'm not LDS.  I grew up in CA with LDS friends and feel pretty comfortable with the culture; on the other hand I'm not even Christian (I'm Baha'i, though I keep my personal religious views pretty quiet when on any campus unless asked directly)...does anyone out there have any words of wisdom on whether this will matter at BYU? 

Every single faculty member on the department website did their BA at BYU, so something tells me I wouldn't "fit" what they want; on the other hand I'm hoping there's an appropriate way to say "I am open-minded and willing to play by your rules, and I really would be interested in this job since I knew lots of smart, nice LDS kids growing up who went to BYU, and besides I'd love to be an academic in a culture that didn't think I was crazy for wanting lots of children."  (Deep inside I am rolling my eyes about rules like "no coffee" and "no sleeveless shirts" but on the outside I am willing to suck it up and deal.  I think.)

I will AFTDJ; just hoping for advice on how to proceed.




Doesn't BYU require all faculty to sign a code of conduct? I had two rules on the market: no signing of codes of conduct and no South Dakota. I would be willing to reconsider South Dakota, but not the code of conduct governing my sex life, as long as I keep it off campus and out of the campus population.
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mouseman
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2011, 10:37:39 PM »

From their HR FAQ site:
Quote
Do I need to be LDS to work for BYU?
No. However, all employees are required to agree to maintain LDS standards as defined by the Honor Code and the Dress and Grooming Standards.

So, no alcohol, coffee, non-marital sex, beards, etc. on or off campus.

I was looking at an ecology job at BYU Hawaii, so I looked it up then.
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lds_question
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2011, 10:57:04 PM »

From their HR FAQ site:
Quote
Do I need to be LDS to work for BYU?
No. However, all employees are required to agree to maintain LDS standards as defined by the Honor Code and the Dress and Grooming Standards.

So, no alcohol, coffee, non-marital sex, beards, etc. on or off campus.

I was looking at an ecology job at BYU Hawaii, so I looked it up then.

Yes, I looked all this up and read it closely.  I can live with it; so can my spouse.  What throws me off more is that all members of the department are BYU alums, so I'm skeptical about them feeling that a non-LDS person is a "good fit" - aside from the HR rules, the department itself doesn't have a track record of hiring from outside.  I'm wondering if anyone out there has personal experience in situations like this, and/or advice on how to "sell" my application while still being honest about who I am.

But maybe the only answer is to treat it like a normal job, apply, and see what happens.  Back to it, then, and thanks for reading.

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concordancia
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2011, 11:01:01 PM »

From their HR FAQ site:
Quote
Do I need to be LDS to work for BYU?
No. However, all employees are required to agree to maintain LDS standards as defined by the Honor Code and the Dress and Grooming Standards.

So, no alcohol, coffee, non-marital sex, beards, etc. on or off campus.

I was looking at an ecology job at BYU Hawaii, so I looked it up then.

Yes, I looked all this up and read it closely.  I can live with it; so can my spouse.  What throws me off more is that all members of the department are BYU alums, so I'm skeptical about them feeling that a non-LDS person is a "good fit" - aside from the HR rules, the department itself doesn't have a track record of hiring from outside.  I'm wondering if anyone out there has personal experience in situations like this, and/or advice on how to "sell" my application while still being honest about who I am.

But maybe the only answer is to treat it like a normal job, apply, and see what happens.  Back to it, then, and thanks for reading.



I would say to treat it like a normal job. You can be excited about the moral standards, but even that would be iffy. As for their affiliation, BYU does have some degree of self selection - people who don't share the moral code, people who may live according to the moral code, but don't want to sign off on it for some reason, people who just don't want to live in Utah. You will find many similar fly over universities that employ a very high percentage of people who got at least their first degrees from the area. Heck, this isn't even fly over country and our faculty has a very high percentage of people from the area. So, it may not be so much that they aren't very good at hiring outsiders so much as the outsiders aren't applying.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 11:01:58 PM by concordancia » Logged

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tee_bee
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2011, 11:16:16 PM »

OK, never read the honor code. I can deal with the no coffee rule (I don't like coffee), and, OK, could cut back on the smut.

But I'll never shave my beard. I like it, and so does my wife. Unless, of course, BYU was the only job available. Then I'd become a Sikh. I think I will now, just in case.

Seriously, though, I have several BYU colleagues and they love it there. Of course, they're Mormon.
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concordancia
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2011, 11:20:30 PM »

Regarding your cover letter: as usual, you are probably better off being excited about the department/program than the university.
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2011, 11:23:42 PM »

I could not give up coffee. Everything else is negotiable.
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2011, 11:46:01 PM »

It seems to me that you are thinking about this primarily from your own perspective at the moment:  "Can I tolerate the lifestyle and ideological restrictions of working at this institution?"  Perfectly reasonable.

But then there is the whole question of the tenure process, which will be decided by people many people outside your department who may have no knowledge of you personally (we will assume that you will be a lovely, charming colleague).  You already know that your own department has tenured no one who is not LDS.  Is there anyone at the entire school who is tenured who is not LDS?  Just something else to think about as you're sending in your application.
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byuisock
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2011, 12:38:41 AM »

Is the position tenure-track or non-TT? (Local lingo: "continuing faculty status"/CFS) I've known several non-LDS people who have spent a couple years at BYU and then gone on to do very well elsewhere. If you're applying for a visiting position, your not being a Mormon will be much less of a problem than it would be for a TT position.

What's your field? If you're closer to the STEM side of things, there will be greater willingness to consider your application. If you're closer to the humanities, probably less. Not having attended BYU is not a problem; not being Mormon may likely be. In some departments not being a Mormon might be a deal breaker, but in others it won't be. It really depends on how unique the skill set is that they're looking for.

I'd definitely include a brief mention in the cover letter about your understanding and support for BYU's mission and standards. I'd probably even mention that you're a Baha'i, because that may come across as a small positive compared to being non-religious or Christian of another denomination.

"Just suck it up and deal" turns out to be a good rule to live by, even for Mormons at BYU, or for academics anywhere. After moving around enough, one starts to realize that one has to suck up and deal with things everywhere, just different things at different places.
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mouseman
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2011, 1:12:03 AM »

Is the position tenure-track or non-TT? (Local lingo: "continuing faculty status"/CFS) I've known several non-LDS people who have spent a couple years at BYU and then gone on to do very well elsewhere. If you're applying for a visiting position, your not being a Mormon will be much less of a problem than it would be for a TT position.

What's your field? If you're closer to the STEM side of things, there will be greater willingness to consider your application. If you're closer to the humanities, probably less. Not having attended BYU is not a problem; not being Mormon may likely be. In some departments not being a Mormon might be a deal breaker, but in others it won't be. It really depends on how unique the skill set is that they're looking for.

I'd definitely include a brief mention in the cover letter about your understanding and support for BYU's mission and standards. I'd probably even mention that you're a Baha'i, because that may come across as a small positive compared to being non-religious or Christian of another denomination.

"Just suck it up and deal" turns out to be a good rule to live by, even for Mormons at BYU, or for academics anywhere. After moving around enough, one starts to realize that one has to suck up and deal with things everywhere, just different things at different places.

I would guess that even in STEM there are few non-LDS.  I glanced through the faculty, and what struck me most was how "white" the engineering departments were, compared to any other university of the same ranking.  The vast majority of the faculty were American-born Caucasians, while people of different Asian and eastern European countries dominate almost every other Engineering department (compare the demographics of the same departments in the University of Utah, for example).  Add to that the fact that many, if not most, of these faculty went through BYU, and I would say that it was safe to assume that almost all (or all) were Mormons.

That being said, the faculty seem to have good resumes and most have done PhD's in top engineering schools, so should you find yourself in a STEM department at BYU, you wouldn't have to worry about the academic quality of your colleagues.

In any case, it seems to me that following the code of conduct would eventually weigh on anybody who was not committed to these as part of their own belief system.  It would seem to me similar to a non-Jew trying to keep Shabbat or Kashrut at home for employment reasons.  If you do not believe in these codes or haven't grown up with them, they start feeling stifling after a while.
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In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away -- -
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.
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fiona
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2011, 1:45:10 AM »

I know one feminist who didn't "fit in" at BYU and wasn't reappointed.

But I think the OP's question is best answered by the thread Systeme-D started awhile ago: Apply for the damn job.

Until you're offered the job, everything else is hypothetical.

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seniorscholar
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2011, 9:48:55 AM »

Perhaps a minor consideration, but I happen to have heard from someone I recently met at a conference that BYU is unusually open to spouse offers and/or finding a staff (or other non-PhD) position for a spouse, if this is any consideration in your situation.
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rafrafraf
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2011, 11:14:35 AM »


 I had two rules on the market: no signing of codes of conduct and no South Dakota. I would be willing to reconsider South Dakota, but not the code of conduct governing my sex life, as long as I keep it off campus and out of the campus population.


concordancia, could you tell me  why didn't you want to go to South Dakota? I've been considering an offer from a school there.
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concordancia
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2011, 12:35:30 PM »


 I had two rules on the market: no signing of codes of conduct and no South Dakota. I would be willing to reconsider South Dakota, but not the code of conduct governing my sex life, as long as I keep it off campus and out of the campus population.


concordancia, could you tell me  why didn't you want to go to South Dakota? I've been considering an offer from a school there.

Prejudice against being in the middle of nowhere with the need for multiple flights to get anywhere I might want to be. Especially since at the time I was traveling regularly for my research - that part of the research has calmed down.
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