The Job Description
Me: Why the hell are we looking for someone who does this shit?
This first thing that an applicant needs to remember is that the purpose of the job search is not to change what a department does. It is to make sure that continues to do what it has always done. This is because universities are notoriously conservative: they are Machiavellian and have their roots in monastic institutions of the Middle Ages in which the people who read books kept their mouths shut. This is the same institution that argued against Galileo and Copernicus; the same kind of institution in which a nut-bag like Noam Chomsky can receive world-wide acclaim for his political writings when his arguments about universal grammar are just as totalitarian as the politics he opposes.
In this sense, although a search to fill a vacancy appears to be an opportunity to review the newest trends in research, offer new courses to students, and fill gaps, it really has nothing to do with the candidate. The reality is that faculty doesn’t really want someone to do anything different, but rather they want someone to validate their own research, teaching and service. I discovered this after I accepted my first tenure track position. I finished my dissertation in the Humanities, moved my family across the country, settled into my new office, and the Department Chair (DC) dropped by to share with him the proposal to delete the courses I was supposed to teach. My only response was, “What idiot came up with this?” Of course, it was his proposal. Soon after, I found myself on the market once again. So, the moral of the story is that decisions are made long before the data is in. Hence, it should come to no surprise that the Search Committee Chair (SCC) said, “The ideal candidate is just like the one that just retired and that we should hire a man.”
Me: If we are going to hire someone like the person that last retired, I think we need to add the following qualifications to the ad: conceited ass, addicted to anti-depressants, cursed by the Gods of the Three Major Faiths, and has a raging case of OCD.
To be continued…