Wednesday, July 8, 2015

RYS Flashback. Six Years Ago Today. Which Part-Timers Get Hired.

I was on two hiring committees this Spring for tenure track positions in my department and another very different discipline.

In the other department, they hired the “part-timer here with an impeccable record” that had a “history of full time tenure track work exactly like what is needed at (This) college.” Why? She was a fabulous colleague, even better teacher and did it with grace and charm. She took her fair share of less desirable classes and times, served on serious committees and made it seem like it was a privilege to do so. She took her interview seriously and gave a solid performance. She wanted the job and let us know. It was our luck she wanted us. Lucky students. Very lucky department and college.

But in my department, we didn’t hire Sammy, the part timer, who thought he had that impeccable record and thus, the job. He did have “exactly the background” we are missing. But we hired a much younger, less experienced candidate (who had also taught part time on our campus).

Why? She is a skilled and dedicated teacher and a quick learner (even in writing syllabi). She participates in departmental stuff, volunteers on unbelievably shitty committees, takes her share (but not more) of crappy classes and she does it without dripping in attitude. She is a colleague, and doesn’t try to get us to cover her classes because of the latest adrenaline packed adventure. She took her interview seriously, without making flippant comments. The decision was a no brainer. She won, Sammy is still part time. We sincerely hope Sammy takes this as a prompt to change and reflect during his next year of part time work. Sammy has fabulous skills and attributes we need and could use. We would love to give him the next tenure track but at this moment, his pluses do not outweigh the minuses.

There is often a reason why we didn't hire YOU. Find out what it is and strive to improve.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you made good decisions (and kudos for hiring your own proven part-timers, according to their well-demonstrated merits -- or, in Sammy's case, lack thereof).

    My only concern? At least at the sort of research-oriented institution at which I teach, it's entirely possible for a part-timer to do all the good things mentioned above, and none of the bad, and still lose out to a Sammy, or, more likely, a recent Ph.D. who's never taught at our institution, if the other candidates' publications are better (more numerous, more recent, you name it). In fact, volunteering for shitty committees, etc., is as likely as not to be a minus if it takes time away from publishing (our part-timers don't have much control over what classes they take, but they're likely to be of the crappier sort, though fortunately people's definitions of what counts as a crappy class vary somewhat). It is, of course, a matter of playing the odds, and the longer one is a contingent faculty member the greater the odds against ever landing a t-t job, but if one is going to invest time in something beyond the required minimum, publishing is probably still the thing (and yes, that's backwards, and to be honest I'm not very good at following that advice myself, but I still suspect it's correct).

    And all of this assumes the existence of tenure-track searches. That may be the surest indication that this post is 6 years old (and things weren't good even then).