Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm Befuddled.

I'm beFUDDled,
which is probably

as I'm thought of
as a fuddy-duddy
about this.

Our champion hire
from last year,
has strode himself

into the Dean's office
to let us know
he's on the market.

Bigger city,
shinier pavement,
something about culture.

Oh, we were his first,
that is to be sure,
but we'll not be his last.

Of course this happens,
and of course he has the right,

what I would like to do
to him with a pillowcase
full of oranges.


  1. Sorry, but it's hard to pity you. I keep coming in a close second to people like that guy. I'd have a t-t job now if committees would stop acting like kittens attracted to shiny objects.

    1. We had a job open.
      We hired the person
      we thought best for the job.

      We're going to have to do it again.

    2. You have to hire the best person for the job, no matter what. We're in a search right now and it's tempting to hire someone who you THINK might stay forever. But you never know.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Actually, haphazard, you should be pissed off at the guy, not at Dick. If shiny new guy hadn't accepted the job, knowing he would be moving on, you'd have been offered the job.

  2. Yeah, I remember how crappy this feels. I'm at a Canadian equivalent of an R1, but in a city where "The Best of the Best"[TM] don't tend to want to settle forever, so we've hired and lost an awful lot of hotshots over the years. It's only the terrible job market that keeps them here now, I'm sure.

  3. Wait. The gumdrop unicorn is just "on the market" and giving notice to the effing dean? No job in hand or anything??

    Won't he feel like a tool if he ends up empty-handed by the end of April. (Or is that actually the standard, making all my cloak-and-dagger secrecy about job apps sorely misguided?)

    1. We had someone tell us the same thing last year. "I'm checking out the market," she said, boldly, to everyone.

      Then she didn't get a job. We never even started a search because my February she was telling us, "The market doesn't look very good."

    2. Actually I think it is a sign of character to tell the department and give y'all some lead time. He could just disappear next year, saying, "Sorry folks, got a better job. See ya."

    3. If I were on the market this year, I would tell the chair (at least my current chair), because I'd also be asking hir for a recommendation, but to jump straight to the Dean with this declaration sounds to me like a big slap in the face to the department. It also makes hir sound like a pompous ass (as Kimmie's comment also suggests...)

    4. This was my thought, too. I suppose he might be worried it would get out anyway, but going on the market immediately after arriving is so hard to justify except in truly exceptional circumstances that I'd think the best idea would be to hope no one found out until and unless I got a/the job (I'm hoping that he's aiming at something specific that is somehow a dream job for him, in terms of location or institution/unique program, or something, not just generally going fishing to see what turns up).

      I also thought of the recommendation issue, but one doesn't ask for a recommendation from a colleague (or chair, or Dean) one has only had for a few months, no?

  4. Use doorknobs instead of oranges.

    1. Exactly my thought. Oranges are tasty and the juice makes a mess. Police will look for a suspect who smells like orange juice. A bag of nickels works well too.

  5. The students are shit-heads.
    You underpaid him.
    Gosh it must suck,
    When reality bites us
    In the ass.

  6. So hire an adjunct who's been doing good, steady, competent work for you semester after semester after semester.

    Common sense and real-world experience should tell hiring committees that there isn't anyone--not even superstar interviewees--who has a magic wand that'll turn all of our students into budding scholars. So even though the grass may appear greener on the other side of the fence, it's not a good idea to buy a pig in a poke.

    1. So hire an adjunct who's been doing good, steady, competent work for you semester after semester after semester.

      But they have demonstrated that they will work for free without tenure, so why hire them? They're idiots who have shown that they sell themselves cheap and clearly have no ambition. Same goes for anyone who has been on the market for more than a year or, at the most, two hiring seasons. Anyone who doesn't have a TT job two years out of grad school clearly not worthy of a TT job.

    2. I agree, but this is hard to do for research-intensive positions, since the adjunct probably hasn't had much time to do research while doing good, steady work.

      This might be an argument for more TT teaching/service-intensive positions. At the very least, having more such jobs would decrease the disruption to the undergraduate program caused by stars and wannabe stars flitting around (there would still, of course, be disruption to grad students who need MA and Ph.D. directors, and to undergrads doing independent projects).

      It might also be an argument for research-intensive departments applying the "potential" argument more often to people in teaching-heavy positions (adjunct, non-TT, or TT) who have steadily produced high-quality research in modest quantities over time, and less often (or at least no more often) to minty-fresh Ph.D.s who have produced an equal amount of scholarship more quickly. Speaking from personal experience, I'd say that the slow-but-steady producer has a good chance of picking up speed given time and support to pursue projects that (s)he has been thinking about for some time, and of producing work that benefits from the long incubation period (at least in fields where knowledge doesn't change too quickly). And you know the experienced candidate won't be overwhelmed by teaching demands, and will probably have ideas and insights based on experience to contribute to service work. The minty-fresh may also turn out well (though their work may be a bit more cutting-edge, and a bit less mature -- a tradeoff), but, even if they don't leave (or spend all their energy trying to leave), they may fumble or be overwhelmed by teaching and/or service, or burn out or run out of ideas on the research side. It's a gamble either way, but, as AdjunctSlave points out above (and others have alluded to), departments all too often seem determined to gamble on the new and unproven rather than the not-so-new and partially-proven. I suspect it's easier to sell minty-fresh potential to deans and provosts, but one doesn't really know until one tries.

    3. As someone who moved from adjunct to TT and tenure at a teaching institution, I fully support CC's reply above. I almost didn't get the TT job because I didn't have any publications (working 6/5 at two different institutions left little time for anything but course prep and grading) but the campus took a chance on me, and I produced for them (though my department still didn't think it was enough), especially when it came to service and high teaching evals ("tough but fair" in case you're thinking it's just that I'm easy). It was much easier to produce when I didn't have to Freeway Fly between two distant campuses just to cobble together a living.

      And we lose superstars here. The pay is in the bottom 20% for our type of institution, so it's just plain dumb as fuck to try to hire them. The trend (in my department) has been to hire people with ties to the area, which may not be quite kosher, but it beats the hell out of having to beg for new tenure lines every time someone leaves for greener pastures.

  7. Never hire a candidate that seems to want to use your school as a stepladder. Or a lifeline. It's usually pretty easy for figure out who is who.

  8. This is why I *never* go for the one that others would consider the top candidate. We always have to worry that if our hire leaves, we will not get to hire again, or worse, the dean will resort to a cavalcade of I-told-you-sos: "look what happened the last time I trusted you to hire!" Better to hire the good-enough person who is unlikely to move.

  9. I envy those of you who at least get to hire when Shiny New Hire leaves. We've had this happen to us twice in the last five years, and both times, that position was not allowed to be replaced. The admins said we didn't need it as badly as the Nursing Department did, which goes through new hires faster than an allergy sufferer with the worst case of hay fever ever. Nursing is one of the very few departments that gets new hires because they can't keep up with the student demand, the department's dysfunctional atmosphere would make a great dissertation topic for someone in organizational communications, and no one wants to run it, so there seems to be a chair search every other year.

    We all cringe when someone announces a retirement in our department now because we know we will not get the position back and more of us will be serving on committees and have larger classes.

  10. AdjunctSlave: My comment was addressed to tenured faculty members who sit on hiring committees. We have the power to make good decisions. Whenever I've been on a hiring committee, I've always preferred a known quantity--like a good, steady, competent, long-time adjunct--over someone who, on the basis of some paperwork and a short interview, MIGHT turn out to be a superstar. Or might not. Or maybe there's no such thing (which is what I really believe.)

    I work at a community college, so research or a history of publications isn't a factor, but for the last several decades (I've been here a long time) almost all of the hiring in my department has come from within: We tend, very strongly, to hire our own adjuncts. And while I can't say for certain, I think this is true at most SoCal community colleges.

    Things aren't entirely hopeless everywhere, so your worries that "[adjuncts] have demonstrated that they will work for free without tenure, so why hire them?" sound like winge-ing to me. Don't talk yourself out of trying.