Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PSA (Chicago edition)

Onto the Central APA and all the glorious things to do.  I wasn't able to quickly find a great list of recession specials, but the meeting is just a few block away from from Grant Park where Obama spoke on November 4th.

Of course there are some delicious deep dish pizza options (if you have personal recommendations let us know). 

Oh, yea.. and philosophy.

So, if you're off have a good time!

-- Second Suitor

ps: it is the cold, windy city... bundle up.


g said...

what happened to the little philbot being roasted? why is he hanging his coat?

Anonymous said...

If you have time while @ the APA and are looking for a great bar, check out:


You can ride the blue line there or take a cab.

Anonymous said...

I take it that not many of us will be off to Chicago (as job seekers anyway). Out of curiosity, I checked with the APA and they said that they've had *2* schools register to hold interviews. Maybe some schools show up and register on site (?) but I'm thinking there can't be too many that do that. Way to go with the JFP rescheduling!

Anonymous said...

This is not about the APA, but I think it's worth posting since I have only one interview in Chicago.

I've gotten the sense (from comments by folks on search committees where I've applied and interviewed, colleagues, etc.) that candidates like me are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, we don't have the pedigree or publication record to get a job at a research university. On the other hand, our pedigree and publication record is good enough to instill worries on the part of search committees at teaching schools/not-so-reputable schools that either (a) we won't stick around very long since we'll be moving up to a "better" job or (b) we wouldn't take the job in the first place. In both cases, candidates like me remain jobless--or at least roaming the earth doing visiting gigs. I'm not sure what to do. I could obviously improve my chances at research jobs by publishing more and in better journals (and I'm trying, but...). My issue is that I'm not sure what I could do differently to secure a job at a teaching/not-so-reputable school. It seems rather desperate to indicate in my cover letter that I would LOVE to live in Wyoming and teach a 4/4; would take the job if offered it and stay from now until the end of time.---This is false, of course, but I interviewed for a school in SC with a 3/3. I would have taken that job and stayed for quite a while. But should I have made this clear in my cover letter?! Again, it seems bizarre to beg and plead like that. However, I'm at a loss for what to do differently. Should I remove pubs from my CV? Should I take a visiting position at a prison or Anchorage CC to indicate that my pedigree/publication record isn't that great? Should I beg and plead in my cover letter? Any suggestions would be helpful.

SLAC TT said...

Anon 9:06 worries that his/her pub record and pedigree is too good for a "teaching school", and that such schools might be scared off thinking that he/she will bolt for a better job.

This is, IMHO, a ridiculous attitude. LACs, at least in my experience, unequivocally prefer candidates with better research credentials, all else being equal. The thing is, all else often is not equal. Here are a few tips off the top of my head:

1) For God's sake, don't indicate to us that you're not interested in research. We're interested in research, and we don't want a lumpen potato in our department. We want someone who will publish quality work. We just don't demand as much quantity as the 2/2s.

2) The number of schools that don't worry about their hires jumping ship can be counted on one hand. We just worry about it a bit more because it's more of a pain in the ass to lose someone from a department of five than from a department of twenty.

3) With (2) in mind, we accept that you'll jump ship if you can land a very good research job or a tip-top LAC. That's the risk of going for someone good. We will, however, avoid you like the plague if we think you'll jump ship for a mediocre research position. If you're pumping out B-level papers like there's no tomorrow, that's where we think you're headed.

4) For better or worse, we notice pedigree too. 4/5 of our department is Leiter top-20. If you think that LACs are passing you by because your pedigree is too good, you're misreading the situation. It's a fierce market. Plenty of Leiterrific candidates have trouble getting jobs at all. We know this, and would never consider someone "out of our league" based on pedigree alone.

4) It's true that teaching is important to us, and we expect you to take it seriously. Don't tell us how much you love to teach. Show us that you're good at it. Just as important, show us that you'll get better at it.

That's been my experience. YMMV.

I Learned the Hard Way that Teaching Is Sublime said...

Anon 9:06

What do you want to do in philosophy? Does teaching matter at all to you? If not, then do the profession a favor and strive to get into largely research positions and face the possibility of failure--and in that case I wish you best luck. If you do care about teaching then get the best teaching position you can and figure things out from there.

Gnothi seautou. And think: your potential students deserve your making the most honest assessment you can about your future. It is--despite the many blogs here and elsewhere about the profession--not just about you.

Anonymous said...

SLAC TT seems to have (understandably) misunderstood the direction of my angst. The distinction between the two sorts of schools I had in mind was not so much one between "research" and "SLAC's" Instead--and I should have made this clear--I meant to make a distinction between "high-end" and "lower-end." Fantastic SLAC's with 4/5 philosophers from top 20 programs would, in my mind, count as a high-end department. And I can see perfectly well that positions at such places are amazingly hard to come by and would require excellent pubs, teaching, luck etc. My worry is not why I've yet to secure such a position, but rather why I can't get one at a lower-end school. I've had interviews with such places in which the VAST majority of the questions had to do with whether I could even see myself living in city X, teaching Y number of classes, etc. For the majority of these schools I answered honestly that I could. I'm sure many of us would be quite happy with relatively large teaching loads and living in places that aren't as ideal as others. I'd love to teach at a small, no-named, SLAC in the middle of nowhere or a large public university with no graduate program. In fact, I'd prefer working at such places! The problem seems to be that such places are reluctant to hire candidates like me--and I think this is not due to weak teaching or having too few pubs. Instead, the evidence seems to point in the direction that it's something about retention. My evidence for this is partly anecdotal in terms of seeing who has been hired over me and all my peers at these lower-end places. But the other part of my evidence comes from the horse's mouth--I've been told as much in discussions with people on SC's at places I've interviewed at but not gotten the job.

So, my question has to do with suggestions for what I can do to quell worries about retention at not-so-aptly-dubbed "lower-end" schools.

Soon-to-be Jaded Dissertator said...


I swapped the old roasting philbot out for the old "I'm giving up philosophy and throwing out my dissertation" philbot.

Less colorful, perhaps, but it captures my mood a little better.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:06, here's my perspective for what it's worth. There are some schools that are so worried that better candidates (in terms of pedigree, research, etc.) won't stick around that they never hire them in the first place, but there aren't that many and these are places where research is very, very difficult, the pay is very low, and the campus is very isolated. I also think there are cases where pedigree gets in the way at other schools, but here pedigree generally means more than just graduating from a Leiterific school. Maybe having undergrad and grad schools from Leiter top-10s, and then a postdoc at a third.

My guess is that you come off in interviews as having attitude (whether you really have it or don't, I wouldn't know). Your talk of "less-reputable" and "lower-end" schools, for example. Maybe this will be cured by rethinking how you present yourself, maybe by 2-5 years of adjuncting and VAPing at schools that you consider "lower-end". That would certainly take the luster off your pedigree, but if it doesn't change the attitude you present in interviews, then (I don't mean this to be harsh) maybe you should consider law school. Maybe you're not made for the world most of us academics live in. Nothing wrong with that, it can be a tough life.

SLAC TT said...

Anon 7:27 (also 9:09):

I apologize if I misread your concerns.

It's true that smaller departments worry more about retention than larger ones, as the hassle associated with losing someone is greater. So what to do?

What I was suggesting is that you don't try to make yourself worse by leaving off pubs or the like (though if you have a list of pubs in obscure journals,you might consider omitting them). SLACs want the best they can find who they think will stay. Upping the "will stay" factor at the expense of the "is good" factor is a losing proposition, as we get applications in the hundreds just like everyone else.

(By the way, my school is not as "fantastic" as you supposed. We're US News ranked, but nowhere near the top. The fact that our faculty hails from highly ranked grad schools says little. Pretty much any halfway decent school could hire only "good" pedigree if it so chose).

So what can you do to get into a school that cares more about retention? Well, you need to be good and also demonstrate "fit". Unfortunately, there's no simple formula for doing this. My point was mainly negative: don't try to demonstrate fit by lowering your perceived value.

(A romantic analogy: If you're trying to woo someone wary, it's no good to say "Trust me. I can't do any better.").

Anonymous said...

Check out this new article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed: http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i24/24b01201.htm


Xenophon said...

Am I going to be the first person to ask the question: How much does JFP 181 suck? I had low expectations, and JFP failed to meet them.

Highlights: Pace's ad tells us that they WILL interview at the December APA in Philadelphia. What are the odds the APA screwed things up again? Also, does anyone else think Florida Atlantic advertised in the wrong APA? (Assistant Director of the Counseling Center in the online postings #27 is probably meant for the American Psychological Association.)

Anonymous said...

Good news bitches! The new JFP informs me that "The Department of Coins and Medals at the Yale University Art Gallery seeks a two-year Fellow beginning in March 2009 to participate in the management of a collection that is particularly strong in coinage of the Greek and Roman worlds."

Anonymous said...

Is anyone at the Central? What's the turn-out like?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:06/7:22: I think I was in your boat a few years ago. I think what happens in these cases is that you do visiting positions and/or postdocs for a few years. If you publish during this time, you end up "proving" yourself, and so become appealing to higher-end schools. This, I think, is what happened in my case. I'm guessing if you don't publish, then you end up becoming more attractive to lower-end schools, although I know of a few peers who just end up petering out in vap's and leaving the profession.

Anonymous said...

I am in the O'Hare airport leaving the APA-Central after giving a paper in the evening session. I was accosted by drunk teeny-boppers in the lobby (some kind of fraternity/sorority business conference going on at the same time), found it difficult to locate the room assignment and my session was poorly attended (don't know if this is representative of the whole conference, though). Overall, I give it a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Anonymous said...

I'm at the Central, Feb 20 7:10.

The turnout is scary small. I've been to at least five Chicago meetings, and the smoker at this one was certainly no bigger than *half* of the smallest one I'd seen before. Everyone is complaining about the weather, the price of the rooms, and, of course, the hamstringing of the job market. Oh, and the fact that the Romanell Lecture was not included in the program. Yeah, there are loud rumblings of discontent.

Great Job! said...

Report from the Central APA:

This is smaller than most regional philosophical association's conferences. The turnout is pathetic. Drop a really glitzy, ritzy, and overpriced hotel in the middle of any northern city in winter and have their regional conference there. That's what the Central feels like this year.

Anonymous said...

Anon at February 19, 2009 7:27 AM
"So, my question has to do with suggestions for what I can do to quell worries about retention at not-so-aptly-dubbed "lower-end" schools."

I am always troubled by these discussions. No one outside the Leiter camp has arrived at any consensus as to what counts as a 'lower end' school. And, really, what Brian [and others] think matters should not be what matters to you, as an individual.

Look, if you want to teach and do research at a SLAC, then
(a)write a cover letter that explains that desire, write a teaching statement that supports your claim, and provide [as much] evidence of good teaching [as you can at this stage].
You might, much to the horror of some, actually try writing an individualized letter that explains your interest in the specific school.

If you get an interview, be willing and ready to talk about both your research and your teaching. Be prepared with some knowledge about the specific school - and not just the department. Show interest in the school, the department, and the students.

If you get an on-site, do not ask silly questions such as "Do you have an engineering school?" Find out if they have an engineering school before you arrive. Demonstrate that you are interested in this place and this position.

Most importantly, before you apply for any job, decide what you want to do and where you want to be.
SCs are more likely to think you will vanish in the night if you seem unsure as to what you want and how you envision your career.

Very few SLACs require new hires to arrive with life-long committment. But, we do resist going to the trouble, distress, and expense of hiring someone who is only looking to 'move on.'

One might see this as an advantage of being hired at a SLAC: we care about who your are, what you want, and whether you can work with us. You are, and will be, more than the sum of your publications.


Anonymous said...


What the hell is "the Leiter camp"?