Monday, December 28, 2009

Eastern APA

Those who said it was a terrible idea to hold the Eastern APA in Times Square during one of the busiest times of the year and that it would be a huge clusterfuck were sorely mistaken.

Just kidding. They were right.

Anyways, aside from the obvious pot-shots to take, a few things to note:
There did seem to be a low number of interviewers in one of the big reception rooms (as a commenter has noted), but not low enough as to lower the difficulty of trying to hear someone sitting right next to you.

These high-tech, super-fast elevators are making me dizzy.

With a mediocre interview under my belt and having to wade through gobs of philosophers and tourists to use said elevators, the Church of Scientology's ads promising me a more stress-free life that are prominently displayed out my window are looking mighty appealing now.

I went to a talk today that was sparsely attended and tried to stay awake after only being able to sleep in 40 minute bursts last night (nerves); I'm assuming that's par for the course.
Finally, for those souls with us in NYC, keep your eyes open and ears to the ground. I hear that someone (me) is scattering Sunday Comics styled 'Hello, My Name is PHIL' name tags around the hotel; I want pictures of you wearing them.

Time for coffee.

-- Jaded Dissertator

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that the damned elevators only work some of the time. Really, Marriott, if you're going to have a 45 story high hotel with fancy schmancy elevators, at least make sure they work and don't jusnumbers (or xx's) at you.

Anonymous said...

On the bright side: the free beer at the smoker was actually decent beer this time. It made up for the 15$ I paid for my soup at lunch.

zombie said...

Impressions from my first APA:

I liked the great glass elevator. Made my ears pop though.

Took the bus to the Big Apple for my interview this morning, then took the bus home this evening. Didn't stay for any talks.

Is half an hour typical for an interview?

Not ONE SINGLE NEW JOB listed in the placement center.

The line at the Starbucks in the lobby was long but fast. Philosophers run on high octane coffee. Starbucks employees know how to move philosophers along.

Philosophers in NYC are easy to spot. They gather in herds, they wear tweed, and they have beards. The young ones looks like Jason Schwartzman. Except the young woman from Princeton on the elevator. She looked like money.

I noticed that Univ Maine Farmington was on the interview board. Didn't that position get cancelled? Didn't I get an apologetic letter about that position being canceled? Is cancellllled spelled with one L or two?

BunnyHugger said...

As bleak as my career prospects are, I'm actually finding myself quite glad that I am at home beside my fireplace and my Christmas tree instead of at APA.

Anonymous said...

I found one of those "My name is PHIL name tags." I was in desperate need for something to write on when an interviewer called me to tell me that the time of my interview and room was being changed. I thought it was a trick... it wasn't. I'm glad I had that name tag to write on.

Anonymous said...

BunnyHugger,

I hope you don't mind me asking: why do you think your career prospects are so bleak? Your profile says that you're an assistant professor. That's more than what most readers of this blog have and that's what all of them would kill for.

Polacrilex said...

Zombie: 1/2 hour is standard for an APA interview. Just wait until the fly-out. That's an all-day interview. Usually 11 hours or so of pure hell.

BunnyHugger said...

Anon 7:49: I was either being euphemistic or trying to obscure my identity when I wrote that profile (I can't remember which as it was a long time ago). In fact although I do have "assistant professor" in my title there's a less glamorous word that comes first. Essentially I am what an honest university would call a lecturer. I teach almost exclusively intro-type courses and I get renewed annually (or so I hope -- I don't actually get a reappointment letter until May each year). I realize I'm better off than many people (recently I was with my old grad school friend and when I started complaining he said "Hello? Adjunct here") but I'm also not likely to get out of my position anytime soon or, well, ever. The longer I work here the less hirable I get because the courseload leaves me with no energy left to do serious scholarship.

Anonymous said...

I'm a newbie w/ a question about those on-site interview requests forms. The woman running placement services told me to keep checking my folder/box because: A) the school would contact me through the folder, and B) the school would let me know either way if my request was granted. Are either of these claims true?

Anonymous said...

So, It might make me a bit weird(er), but I'm actually enjoying the whole thing. It's a nice hotel and yeah times square sucks, but it's not that hard to get away from it.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else go to that Edward Casey keynote. What a waste of time. Why the eff did the APA think it was a good idea to torture us with that nonsense?

Polacrilex said...

BunnyHugger -

I am in the exact same position: neither an adjunct, nor with tenure (or possibilities of tenure where I am). It's an academic limbo, which is why, after this year, if I find nothing on the market, I am getting out.

BTW - the contract renewal process each year is absolute hell.

KateNorlock said...

Blue Moon beer at the reception last night was quite the welcome sight, indeed.

I mentioned my annual kvetch to a couple philosophers (dropping all family responsibilities during our biggest gathering of the year, explaining to relatives why I make a point of going to the northeast every winter, which they think is nuts, etc.), and got the obedient reply (from philosophers!), "It's so much cheaper for the APA to do this between Christmas and New Year's."

Cheaper? Am I the only one who's noticed that the hotel rates in Times Square are lower after New Year's than before?

You know, it's cheaper for ME not to register for the conference. I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation, BunnyHugger (Anon 7:49 here).

Of course, you have every right to bitch and moan like the rest of us.

I'm at the APA now, crying in the bathrooms by the placement center. I'll shed a tear for you too.

Anonymous said...

I declined an interview for a position because I did not have a reservation at the APA hotel. Funny thing, many job-seekers ended up canceling and rooms opened up. The result: a cluster-fuck.

Anonymous said...

I'm also in job limbo when it comes to having my contract renewed. Additionally, I am poor. I chose not to register for the conference because, in my mind, I was not attending any of the conference events. I had some interviews--a couple at the tables and a couple in suites. The schools interviewing me paid for the tables and the suites. I paid to get there. Why should I shell out an additional $60 to register? My school wasn't going to pay for me to travel to NYC so that I could get a stable and reasonably well-paying job. I'm an APA member, so I have paid for something. Why is it wrong for people in our position (again, I didn't go to any talks) to do this?

BunnyHugger said...

Polacrilex: You'll have to let us know how that law school thing works out for you. Fear of the unknown and and of losing some chunk of my "identity" will probably keep me where I am until the time they decide to cut my position.

Anon 7:49/5:30: Thanks for the commiseration. I've done Eastern APA twice (I've done a full-scale job search four times but twice ended up staying home because I didn't have any interviews lined up) and I greatly sympathize with those of you who went into the fray this year.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me WHERE Sacred Heart University and Sweet Briar College advertised?

Anonymous said...

I took my share of trips to the placement room, and when all was said and done I had sent on-site interview requests to five schools: Mercer University, Sam Houston State, Seattle University, Colgate University, and Barry University. Mercer turned me down, but at least they did so promptly. I never heard a word from the other four, even though the placement handout said that schools are required, I repeat, *required* to respond by noon on Wednesday. That seems really unprofessional. Is that typical in this situation?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:43,

I had a similar experience. Mercer turned me down. No word from the others.

Anonymous said...

Why the eff did the APA think it was a good idea to torture us with that nonsense?

Well, because he's, you know, the president. The APA didn't think it was a good idea for him to be the president. He was elected by the Eastern members.

I've only gone to two Presidential addresses in my life; one was on the dull side but not terrible, and the other (Fodor) was great.

Kate N:
Cheaper? Am I the only one who's noticed that the hotel rates in Times Square are lower after New Year's than before?

Right.
In every other city it's a cheap time, but in NYC it's particularly expensive.
I used to be torn about this, because I personally love visiting New York this time of year, but now I'm convinced that Phila/Boston/DC should be the standard rotation, with maybe a trial of some other city mixed in every once in a while just to see how it works out. (Baltimore was considered a failure because they were forced to use three different overflow hotels.)

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 3:34 PM - can I get more info on the Edward Casey keynote please? Why so dire? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:46,

Sweet Briar advertised in the JFP's Web Only section (184w).

Sacred Heart advertised in HigherEdJobs.com.

If you're on the job market and you haven't been checking those sources regularly, you're an idiot.

Anon 8:43,

Yeah, I also submitted interview requests (two) and never got a response. I would be very interested to hear if anyone got a positive response using that system.

Anonymous said...

@anon 843. Yes, academics acting in a poor professional manner and "rejection by induction" are very much par for the course. It is embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

As I was flying back home, I saw on CNN that there was a mysterious van in Times Square that the bomb squad was investigating. It turned out to be nothing, but did people catch wind of this yesterday morning? Did they cancel any of the talks?

Anonymous said...

Sweet Briar is APA web ad #252. Sacred Heart was on HigherEdJobs (and a few other places): http://www.higheredjobs.com/search/details.cfm?JobCode=175404827.

I've heard the same thing from others about the drop box. Report them.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when schools typically make decisons about flyouts? How long should interviewees expect to wait to hear?

Anonymous said...

Here is what I do not understand. I bet there are at least 500 qualified people that would take the assistant professor spot from the 3rd year person where I am an adjunct. She is paid about 49K a year and I would take her spot for 25K for a 4 year contract w/o tenure. I bet many of you would take this deal also. If all these institutions are in such financial trouble why don't they offer it to me (or others) for 60% (+/-) and save a ton of money. Given that we are all about the same in the classroom and are not above being a generalist at a small private.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me WHERE Sacred Heart University and Sweet Briar College advertised?

Sweet Briar advertised in the JFP back in November. I'm pretty sure Sacred Heart also ran a JFP ad, though I don't recall where exactly.

Anonymous said...

I never heard a word from the other four, even though the placement handout said that schools are required, I repeat, *required* to respond by noon on Wednesday. That seems really unprofessional. Is that typical in this situation?

I'm skeptical as to the source of this alleged requirement. Did the hiring departments themselves agree to this arrangement, or was it just something someone at the APA put on the placement handout? I suspect it's the latter.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it hasn't been said yet...so let me say it. $10 Bud Light at the second night's smoker. Ten mother fucking dollars for a bottle of bud fucking light?! $12 for a glass of wine?! $6 for a bottle of water or a glass of soda?!

Dear APA - did you AGREE to those prices? Were they prearranged? If so - fuck you. We're poor and not getting any richer and obligated to attend the smoker and then have to make the choice of spending $10 on one bottle of piss poor beer or going without.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 12/30- 4:46pm:

If I remember correctly, Sacred Heart and Sweet Briar advertised in the Chronicle.

Anonymous said...

Anon December 31, 2009 8:41 AM:

Here is what I do not understand. How do you think that grown-up people with families, loans and any of the other many adult responsibilities will survive on 25K a year with only short-term contracts? I don't think any of us gets into the philosophy biz to remain perpetual graduate students in terms of income, benefits and long-term prospects. I'm not seeing why you would think this is in job-seekers interests or would actually solve the matter. Too many qualified applicants for far too few stable TT positions, and you suggest even fewer or no TT positions?

The fact that people are willing to accept a much lower salary, fewer or no benefits and temporary contracts is *precisely* what universities can and already do bank on, especially when it comes to adjunct and short-term hires, and the real reason departments everywhere haven't been cleared completely of all open TT lines has more to do with accreditation than with any administrator thinking that they have some obligation to employ professionals at a reasonable living wage. Universities and 4 year colleges have to maintain a percentage of tenured faculty if they want to pass external accreditation review.

If you want to know where to look to find the money your university or college has been spending that could have funded many TT lines, take a look into the growth of administration hires over the past seven years or so. Then take a look at the salaries. Then compare the aggregate administration expenditures to those of each of the colleges in your university. Take a careful look at the College or Division of Arts and Sciences. A certain university I am familiar with had a 125% growth in administrative positions in this time period. Why there were even hires in this division throughout this year. The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest division, had a growth of around 7% during this period and a hiring freeze in place since last fall. The chancellor lives in a mansion. There are TT faculty who have roommates. Get your hands on the budget and leave it around where you know that student reporters on the school newspaper hang out. Explain to your students that they have the right to draft and send letters to the dean and provost about unacceptable classroom conditions. No heat and overcrowding, for instance, are a good start. Please, do not imagine that it is the 49K TT salaries that are breaking the bank.

Polacrilex said...

This article is written for students, but it definitely pertains to those on the market and the reality we are facing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03strategy-t.html?hpw

Anonymous said...

"I bet there are at least 500 qualified people that would take the assistant professor spot...I would take her spot for 25K for a 4 year contract w/o tenure. I bet many of you would take this deal also." 8:41

Yes, professors should get together and encourage Universities to hold auctions for the jobs. Then everyone could bid on them, with the lowest bidders winning the jobs. With all the unemployed Ph.Ds looking for work, the schools could probably pick-up an entire department faculty willing to work for minimum wage, a dorm room, and free meals in the cafeteria.

CTS said...

I'm relatively old and tenured, but I hope my advice will be heard: join the APA and vote in all elections. Use sites like this one to get the leadership changed.

I know the dues are high, but we will only ever have changes in such things as the absurd NYC Eastern choice if enough people who care about it get active. There are a lot of philosophers in and around NYC who are quite happy to have the Eastern there every few years. And, they are involved.

I would point out that Atlanta is another option (we've done it) and gets us out of the new england corridor.

Anonymous said...

Something to consider: Could any of the applicants on the market 20 years ago who managed to secure tenure-track positions then have achieved the same in this year's market (women and minorities excluded)? The caliber of applicant hired this season has to be far superior. Imagine being one of those people on a recent hiring committee (who was hired twenty years prior) looking at applicants who are/will be better philosophers than you have ever been and probably ever will ever be? It must be a humbling experience.

zombie said...

Don't we all get free meals for life in the Pritaneum? Or is it just hemlock for us?

Anonymous said...

The caliber of applicant hired this season has to be far superior. Imagine being one of those people on a recent hiring committee (who was hired twenty years prior) looking at applicants who are/will be better philosophers than you have ever been and probably ever will ever be? It must be a humbling experience.

What on earth are you talking about Anon 5:25? What evidence do you have that philosophers today are better than philosophers 20 years ago?

The only sensible claims I've heard comparing the two groups address the difference in publication records. It does seem to be true that more junior-level faculty have more publications, and in this respect, would look much better to a tenure review than their counterparts two decades ago. But I don't see how this translates into being a "better philosopher". In fact, I can't help thinking academic philosophy would be a great deal better off were we not cramming journals full of papers no one reads.

So I'm really curious what case there is to be made that the quality and talent of philosophers has improved markedly over the last 20 or so years. Do tell.

CTS said...

Anon 5:25:

20-odd years ago, we [then] newcomers all thought we were ‘better philosophers’ than the folks who hired us; to some extent, this was probably true.

Of course, what counts as ‘better’ is a matter of dispute. And there is the rub.

Anonymous said...

FYI: This year was the last year that the APA will be held in NYC. They sold their contract with the Marriot Marquis back to the Marriot.

Jaded Dissertator said...

Anon. 5:25: Could any of the applicants on the market 20 years ago who managed to secure tenure-track positions then have achieved the same in this year's market (women and minorities excluded)?One of my resolutions was to not pick fights, but, I'm genuinely interested with the "women and minorities excluded" caveat there. The only interpretation I can give of it seems uncharitable, but it's the only one that pops into my head.

Please don't tell me we need another post fighting the zombie lies about the super-big advantages women and minorities have on the job market...

Anonymous said...

Jaded Dissertator:

I think Anon 5:25's point was that if you were hired as a woman or minority at that point, things were still enough stacked against you that you would hold up in today's job market. At least that's how I'm reading the comment.

And Anon 9:09: Anon 5:25's argument is just from numbers. If 10/100 are hired in year X, and 2/100 are hired in year Y, you would expect the average quality of a year Y hire to be better than that of a year X hire, assuming a normalesque distribution.

Anonymous said...

Jaded Dissertator,

Perhaps a more charitable interpretation of 5:25's comment is this: women and minorities now enjoy some (i.e. not necessarily "super-big") advantages which they didn't enjoy years ago, and that makes the job market more competitive for candidates who don't fall into either (or both) of those categories.

That interpretation seems harmless. Moreover, one could make that sort of claim and go on to say it's a good thing that some advantages are accorded to candidates who've been shut out historically.

Anonymous said...

10:15 is right, the numbers tell a story of greater selectivity and a far superior pool of successful job applicants (barring the possibility of nepotism or cronyism) than twenty years ago. If you were hired in these sparse times, you are probably the creme de la creme. As someone once told me, the philosophy job market is a quickly escalating arms race. Nowadays, most philosophers (and especially white males) who secure jobs have amazing pedigree, excessive numbers of publications, sometimes multiple PhDs or Masters degrees and far more teaching experience than any successful job applicant twenty years prior. Again, it must be a humbling experience for the fifty-some-year-olds with tenure staring at their puny CVs and thinking, I'd probably be a janitor at this institution if it weren't for my luck in coming on the job market when I did. The objection that more publications does not make them better scholars is both a red herring and sour grapes. If you cannot get published at the same rate as your junior colleagues, maybe you should step down and let the department hire someone who can.

Jaded Dissertator said...

Anons. 10:48 a.m. and 2:46 p.m.,

Those are both reasonable and charitable interpretations of Anon. 5:25, especially 10:48's. I'm just so used to not being able to find a charitable interpretation when it comes to the issue of underrepresented groups in philosophy that the warning bells go up too quickly.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

2:36,

The market was apparently worse in the 90s, so perhaps those of us who get hired now should look look at our own puny CVs in shame. Or perhaps it's just a silly kind of comparison to make. Each generation has its own virtues and flaws.

Also, in response to this:

If you cannot get published at the same rate as your junior colleagues, maybe you should step down and let the department hire someone who can.

Not everyone sees high-rate-of-publication as a goal. In fact, many of us bemoan the high rate at which people publish these days, because it leads to things going out before they are well-developed and deep.

Anonymous said...

@5:25. I just got tenure, and I have more publications than two of my colleagues who got jobs 20 years ago. But those philosophers know a fuck of a lot of philosophy. Anyone who looked at their CVs wouldn't think much of them. But let me tell you, you don't have anything on them.

"who are/will be better philosophers than you have ever been and probably ever will ever be? It must be a humbling experience."

That statement shows you don't know what the fuck you are talking about, and is more than likely the reason you don't have a job yet.

Anonymous said...

The objection that more publications does not make them better scholars is both a red herring and sour grapes.

Nah, I don't agree. I think quality is much more important than quantity. I'll go with Kripke, Rawls, or Kaplan, over, well, I think I follow our hosts' wise policy against naming any real living philosophers in a negative spirit. But the fact that it's so easy to fill in a few low-quality-high-quantity philosophers favors my view, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

The objection that more publications does not make them better scholars is both a red herring and sour grapes. If you cannot get published at the same rate as your junior colleagues, maybe you should step down and let the department hire someone who can.

After reading this blog for a year, my reactions to even the stupidest remarks have ranged from lukewarm amusement to an eye-roll. But Anon 2:36's comment strikes me as mind-numbingly dumb.

(1) The claim that more publications does not necessarily make one a better scholar is not a red herring. It is entirely on point provided that the central difference between newcomers and 20-year philosophers is publication record.

Perhaps there are other differences? If so, I'd like to hear about them.

(2) Do you really think that the sole criterion for determining the excellence of a philosophy professor is scholarship? Seriously, grow up. Philosophers who appropriately spend the bulk of their time on research make up a tiny minority of the tenured professors. The rest of us are also teaching, advising, and contributing to the overall well-being of our colleges and universities.

The sooner you grasp this, the better off you'll be: You do not deserve a job solely on the basis of being a talented scholar/philosopher. This is not sufficient. You are a dime a dozen. This is no more or less true now than it was 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:26 is wise indeed.

Teaching is the mainstay of this profession by numbers of employed and tenured philosophers--from lecturers to senior people (like me)--count on it, because stats at least seldom lie. Don't get me wrong--publishing is a real part of the lifeblood of who we are, as long as it really matters, and advances argument. But using publication as the qualitative standard of hireability into or sustainability of a career in philosophy just restricts our collective professional vision to a smattering of so-called tier 1s, who, in my estimation, have for a century skewed the career expectations for the majority of grad students in very unrealistic ways. And in ways that even many of them revise as they advance through their tier 1 programs. I was invited in the last few years to my state's R1 lecture series (a top 25 Leiter), sandwiched in between two world-renown philosophers, which was a real shock since I'm a relative nobody at a 4/4 part of the university system (I must have hoodwinked someone, somewhere). But to my own shock I found that the grad students attending the dinner afterward drooled at the prospect of teaching in my institution--my first instruction in how bad things were getting. And now it's worse.

Bottom line--be prepared to teach, and teach well. It's your best bet. And you know, it's pretty damned rewarding.

Anonymous said...

Please do not assume that people hired in the 80s or 90s had it easy or couldn't compete with today's generation. The last time there was a shortage of qualified college professors was in the 1960s, when there was a hiring binge to educate the baby boomers who are now nearing retirement.

And being female or a minority hasn't made it easier. The one advantage might be that they had a better chance of getting an interview (although I don't think anybody has collected serious data on that). But, as often as not, putting women and minorities on the interview list seemed to be nothing more than window dressing to show administrators that people other than white males were being considered.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 8:13: back in the good old days, when my department had authorization to hire, we tried to meet within the first few days after returning from APA Eastern to decide who to fly out. Those selections had to be approved by deans, but we wanted to move fast so we could get people to campus by late January/early February and make offers while everybody else was.

It wasn't unusual for us to invite somebody to campus who declined, as they had just received an offer they planned to accept, so we moved down our list a bit, which could add some delay.

In general, though, if you haven't gotten an invitation by February 1, it seems unlikely that you will.

Anonymous said...

We have all misconstrued 5:25's point: it is not that the candidates hired this cycle are better researchers than the candidates hired twenty years ago; it is that they are all around better candidates, period: better teaching dossiers, better pubs (not just quantity, also quality), better pedigree, and more dedicated to their profession, on the whole. Knowing a lot about philosophy is not enough; someone hanging out in the Barnes and Noble Philosophy section, reading day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year knows a lot about philosophy, but you wouldn't want him/her teaching at a university.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:28 writes:
We have all misconstrued 5:25's point: it is not that the candidates hired this cycle are better researchers than the candidates hired twenty years ago; it is that they are all around better candidates, period: better teaching dossiers, better pubs (not just quantity, also quality), better pedigree, and more dedicated to their profession, on the whole.

Anon 9:09 here again. I don't think I misunderstood 5:25's point at all. I suggested that it is not at all clear to me what evidence we have for thinking that candidates now are better all around. Why think they are better teachers? Why better pedigree? Why better quality of scholarship? Why more dedicated to their profession?

In the absence of evidence on behalf of any of these claims, I'm inclined to fall back on the assumption that people don't change that all much and thus people 20 years ago achieved roughly the same level of excellence as candidates do today.

As for the "numbers" argument offered by Anon 10:15, I'm not convinced. The argument supposes that there is substantial difference between the 100 candidates in the first place (your "normalesque distribution"). There are differences, to be sure, but I doubt they are substantial. If there are 50 great candidates and 50 more really good ones, then drawing just 2 from the pool rather than 10 would likely not increase, in any significant way, the quality of candidates getting jobs.

Ultimately, I think the thought that candidates today are stellar and that tenured SC members ought to be humbled is a good example of sour grapes and post facto rationalizations.

It's just plain unbecoming.

Anonymous said...

7:48,

No, actually, deans also pressure search committees to hire non-white males, not just to interview them.

Anonymous said...

someone hanging out in the Barnes and Noble Philosophy section, reading day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year knows a lot about philosophy, but you wouldn't want him/her teaching at a university.

Uh.
Why not?
Oh, no pedigree. Got it.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was hired 15 years ago and been on the hiring side in at least 3 nation-wide searches, I have not experienced a bounty of highly qualified candidates in terms of either publications or teaching and *rarely* both.

We prioritize teaching over research (though the ability to be an active scholar is taken seriously as well) and so *anyone* who looks like they are thoughtful about teaching and can cover the courses we need taught is going to be taken seriously -- and we aren't looking for coverage for courses at the margins. The number of folks who were thoughtful about teaching and could teach commonly offered courses was very, very small. Toss in the preference for potential for on-going scholarly work and the pool gets even smaller.

I agree with a poster who noted, either in this thread or another, that PhD programs are not preparing students to work in the average undergraduate programs.

Anonymous said...

In the absence of evidence on behalf of any of these claims, I'm inclined to fall back on the assumption that people don't change that all much and thus people 20 years ago achieved roughly the same level of excellence as candidates do today.

That would be a sound SABRmetric assumption... except for the prevalence these days of φEDs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:28 assumes that the top 50 are roughly similar in their teaching/research abilities, so that to select 2 rather than 10 makes little or no difference. That is absurd!! 20 years ago, the 49th ranked candidate was selected for a job at a flag-ship state school. Now the 10th ranked candidate gets the same job. So, you're telling me there is no difference between the 49th and the 10th ranked candidates? That is highly unlikely! Look at their teaching and research records and you will see evidence of substantial differences. Thus, the 49th ranked candidate who got a job 20 years ago would, if on the market nowadays, get nothing, be unemployed. Nevertheless, s/he is now serving on a hiring committee and selecting the 10th ranked candidate to work at her/his institution. That's unbecoming. S/he could never make her/his own cut. The efforts by faculty hired 20 years prior at ex post rationalization and minimization of the bona fides of today's successful job-seekers are truly self-serving! Take note: the people reviewing you job seekers' dossiers are the same ones trying to delude themselves that they are on top of their game, when they are actually old war horses ready to be put out to pasture!

Anonymous said...

20 years ago, the 49th ranked candidate was selected for a job at a flag-ship state school. Now the 10th ranked candidate gets the same job.

Evidence, please.

Glaucon said...

Re: Anon 1:07pm's request of 11:59am, "Evidence, please."

What need is there of evidence when there are exclamation marks?

The unlikeliness that "there is no difference between the 49th and the 10th ranked candidates" is made clear by the exclamation mark that follows.

Any doubts about the absurdity of 10:28's thoughts on "the top 50" that survived the first exclamation mark must surely evaporate at the second. (I assume a third is waiting in the wings, should the need arise.)

The idea that there is some objective ranking of job candidates, irrespective of departmental and institutional needs, let alone AOSes, is suspect at best.
"Too bad we had to settle for #37."
"I know, but we need an Early Modernist; whatchagonnado?"

Best of all is 11:59am's snark about the self-serving rationalizations of faculty hired 20 years ago, as though this entire line of thought isn't dripping with the very same thing. Talk about "unbecoming"...

Anonymous said...

"Best of all is 11:59am's snark about the self-serving rationalizations of faculty hired 20 years ago, as though this entire line of thought isn't dripping with the very same thing."

Exactly.

I'm on the market, with no idea where I'll be next year, and I'M embarrassed by 11:59.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:12,

No need to be embarrassed. If you were on the job market 20 years ago, you'd probably know where you'd be next year. If you had the bona fides of some of the best candidates this hiring cycle (a few of which have two books in press), you'd also know where you'd be next year. I pray the market improves...but if doesn't, then your best option might be to leave academe.

Anonymous said...

@6:56, That would be a sound SABRmetric assumption... except for the prevalence these days of φEDs

this made my week. seriously, thank you.

-10:28

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:59's attitude is the exact right one to adopt in order to be hired in this job market. Let the SC know of your superiority over not only other candidates but the SC members themselves. When your pedigree, pubs and teaching portfolio demonstrate you to be the far better philosopher than those interviewing you, they, your interviewers, need to be told this, as being mere dead wood past their philosophical prime, they are not likely to figure this out for themselves. Tell them to thank their lucky stars that they have the chance to interview and obviously hire someone so superior to themselves. Humbling for them, indeed! Besides, such contempt for your future collegues will be hard enough to conceal in the interview, much less after you join their department. Best to get it out at the beginning, and let the fawning (them of you) begin immediately.

Jaded Dissertator said...

Look, following the SABRmetrics parallel first thought up by 6:56 a.m. (GOLD STAR), there has to be an objective statistic we can use to assess this claim about the philosophers of 20 years ago and the job market of today.

I suggest VORP, or Value Over Replacement Philosopher. For any given department, take a posited average member at teaching, and slightly below average at publishing, and compare their production to that of the actual candidate for hire and then compare. We'll get to the bottom of this in no time...

saphr said...

Excellent approach, Jaded D. (I'm the anon who made the SABR reference above.) Your method corrects for today's high publication environment.
Hm, I have the nagging feeling there's still a wrinkle to be ironed out... Nope, can't see any problems. I'll get right on the computation of VORP. VORPh?

Anonymous said...

The problem with the graduate students here is exactly what Nietzsche said: "lack of historical knowledge" and in this case of their disciplines.

Check out this philosopher who didn't publish much, but knows a fuck of a lot of philosophy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Albritton

Remember that you only spend 30 minutes to a half hour talking to these people and looking at their department webpages. That tells you less about them than your dossier does.

I cannot even believe the carping on this from this blog.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why I'm going to try and respond to the "let's compare folks on the market today with folks on the market 20 years ago" conversation or the closely related "folks on the market today with folks who have jobs but were hired 20 years ago" conversation. But I am.

With regard to the first "comparing 2009 freshly minted PhDs with 1989 freshly minted PhDs," number of publications tells us nothing since standard practice in the late 80s and early 90s was *not* to encourage publishing for graduate students. Today it's standard practice to encourage publishing while in graduate school. With regard to teaching experience, maybe this can be compared if we take into account that much more has been written and discussed about higher education teaching in the last 20 years than prior to it. So, quantity could be compared but quality, less so.

Looking to the "freshly minted PhDs would be better hires than those who are currently hired" thread. (A) Those who have been teaching for the last 20 years haven't had as much time for research and publishing as those not teaching so scholarly output is not going to be a terribly reliable measure. (B) Those who have been teaching for the last 20 years have vastly more teaching experience (whether this makes them better teachers is an open question).

But, seriously, what's the point of the comparisons anyway? Those of us who have jobs and are reading and commenting on this blog doso because we genuinely care about you who are on the market and are trying to help you all. If there's a problem in the overall institution of graduate school, hiring, etc., let's identify it and think about ways to improve it.

Xenophon said...

"Those of us who have jobs and are reading and commenting on this blog doso because we genuinely care about you who are on the market and are trying to help you all."

We were all trained to be haughty sons of bitches in grad school. Don't blame the younger folks because they haven't yet gotten over it. They will.

And remember that people hitting the market last year or this year really are facing one of the hardest job markets ever. If a little chest thumping makes them feel better, it's understandable.

Anonymous said...

What if tenure were suspended and everyone had to compete all over again for their jobs with not just the newly minted PhDs, but also the ones who had been out on the market for 5-10 years? Surely there is some age discrimination in academe, so a few of the old war horses would scrape by (especially the ones who go golfing with the dean). But many would lose their jobs to the crop of over-achieving unemployed or underemployed young philosophers out there. I'm simply shocked that there are so few philosophy professors in their 50s who can admit that. The last time I checked modesty was a virtue.

Anonymous said...

What if tenure were suspended and everyone had to compete all over again for their jobs with not just the newly minted PhDs, but also the ones who had been out on the market for 5-10 years? ... many would lose their jobs to the crop of over-achieving unemployed or underemployed young philosophers out there. I'm simply shocked that there are so few philosophy professors in their 50s who can admit that. The last time I checked modesty was a virtue.

That you are "simply shocked" suggests you know very little about what universities and colleges value when making hiring and reappointment decisions. 6:37 made the point nicely above: Highly ranked PhD-granting institution inculcate a set of academic values that do not mirror the values of the vast majority of institutions of higher education.

Don't get me wrong: when I serve on SC's and look at the CVs of newly-minted PhDs and young professors, I am indeed impressed and awed. (I really am.) I know many of my colleague feel the same, so I think your jab about modestly is very much besides the point. It's just that what impresses me is only one aspect from among a very large skill set needed to succeed at most ordinary institutions.

In short, I'd wager that "tenure were suspended and everyone had to compete all over for their jobs", things would fall out pretty much the same as they are now. I have no hard evidence for this obviously. It's what my intuition pump tells me, having spent enough time clear of the distorting effects of graduate school.

Glaucon said...

Modesty is indeed a virtue, and maybe 50-somethings unable to admit their unworthiness lack it. But it seems in shorter supply among those who insist on the superiority of "over-achieving unemployed or underemployed young philosophers" to "old war horses."

The job market sucks; we all know that. Blowing off some steam is fine. But jobs are not prizes awarded to the smartest or most published, and thinking that one deserves a job, and indeed deserves it more than its current occupant (perhaps mistakenly, that's what these comments suggest to me), is an attitude a candidate can manifest in subtle but readily discernible ways -- and rarely to their benefit. At least at my podunk school, we'll take a good, modestly promising philosopher who doesn't seem to have a sense of entitlement over the brilliant candidate who does.

If meditating on the inferiority of long-tenured search committee members helps one deal with one's un(der)employment, okay. But if for no other reason than self-interest, many candidates would do better to reflect on Will Munny's words to Little Bill in Unforgiven, "Deserve has got nothing to do with it."