by Mariah Parker, Multimedia Editor and Micah Wilkins, web editor
The administration aims to hire 10 new faculty members for next year. Departments in search of new teachers include Art, Biology, Business, Creative Writing, Chemistry, Environmental Policy, Political Science, Religion, Physics and Social Work.
“I don’t think this will be an easy decision, but it’s the good kind of difficult decision,” said Phil Otterness, chair of the Political Science search committee.
For many of these departments the search has already begun, and for most, it is well under way.
The search committees for each new faculty member were formed earlier in the academic year, made up of professors in the department, a student in the major, one outside faculty member and one outside staff member.
After the advertisements were posted for the new faculty positions, dozens of applications came through. The Creative Writing department received close to 200 applications in October according to senior Katie Anderson, student representative to the search committee.
The search committees then reviewed the applications and letters of recommendation, choosing a dozen or so candidates to continue to a round of phone interviews.
“The phone interviews went well. It sounds like they’re all really enthusiastic about the position,” Anderson said of the Creative Writing faculty search.
According to senior Johnny Slaff, senior and student representative to the Environmental Policy search, PhDs are preferred but not a requirement of the position.
“Some candidates are what they’re what we call ABD– All But Dissertation, meaning they’ve completed their masters and coursework toward their doctorate,” Slaff said.
Candidates without their PhD are expected to complete their dissertation shortly after filling the position.
While teaching experience is necessary, searches also consider other kinds of professional and field experience when choosing their top candidates.
“It’s difficult sometimes,” said Mark Brenner, chair of the Environmental Policy search. “We’ve had people with incredible field experience but no time in the classroom and vice versa. Really, we’d like someone with practical experience in government or nonprofits as well as teaching experience.”
“[Field experience] also shows that they’re not just here to talk but actually do the work,” Slaff added.
After the phone interviews, the committees meet to decide which three or four candidates to bring to campus.
According to Slaff, the committees have screened for candidates who are not only experienced in teaching but who would also be a good fit for their department and the College as a whole. “We want to see that they don’t just want a job, they want this job,” Slaff said.
“It doesn’t matter how strong their background is if they can’t teach, if they can’t draw the students in.” Otterness added.
Most of the searches are in the middle of their processes, while others, such as the search for new Social Work faculty, are close to a decision after bringing all the candidates to campus.
“We’ve got a well-qualified crop. I’m excited to meet them,” says Anderson.
The selection process is not one-sided, however. In the Environmental Policy and Political Science departments, the new professor would only teach four classes without an extended contract or benefits, making it difficult to secure the highest-qualified candidates.
Even when the college makes an offer, the candidate may refuse the offer, in which case the committee will extend the offer to the second candidate.
“It can be a little tricky because you can make job offers and they’ll decide to go somewhere else,” Otterness said. “Ideally, we’ll be making an offer in the next couple weeks.”
For legal reasons, specific details about the individual candidates could not be revealed at this time.