Saturday, February 13, 2010

Leiter Jobs Thread Is Up And Running

Congratulations to all the winners. I'm going to pop some popcorn, open a cold one, and watch the show.

--Mr. Zero

113 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harvard hired someone from Oklahoma? All those who think departments care only about pedigree, remember this.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting hire, (which I assume is tt):

Rusty Jones (Oklahoma) hired by Harvard University. AOS: Classical Philosophy

Posted by: Martin Montminy | February 14, 2010 at 01:52 PM


I'd be curious to know more about this candidate's background. It speaks well of Harvard that they're willing to hire from outside the PGR top 50. And it speaks well of Oklahoma that they're able to place one of their candidates in such a great job.

Anonymous said...

Rusty Jones is the effing man! Form Oklahoma to Harvard. Oklahoma isn't in the top 50 and isn't in the specialty rankings for ancient. I have a new hero!

Anonymous said...

"Harvard hired someone from Oklahoma? All those who think departments care only about pedigree, remember this."

Yes, I shall certainly conclude from this case that department_s_ don't care about pedigree. Hooray for hasty generalizations!!!

Congratulations, Rusty!

Anonymous said...

All those who think departments care only about pedigree, remember this.

Who thinks that?! This is one of the reasons why I often find the discussions of pedigree unhelpful: those who dismiss the concern about the role of pedigree in hiring decisions often misrepresent the nature of the concern.

For my part, I don't think PGR ranking is an irrelevant factor. Nor do I think any department hires exclusively on the basis of pedigree. But I do think pedigree plays a greater role than 1) is appropriate and 2) is acknowledged. I have in mind cases where a candidate lacks skills which are necessary for doing scholarly work in his AOS but nevertheless gets a tt job at a research institution in a great location.

I think it's great that Harvard hired a grad student from Oklahoma. But a sample of one is not sufficient reason to allay worries about the role of pedigree in hiring decisions.

Anonymous said...

And in this job market.

JG said...

"And in this job market."

Exactly.

I'm dying to know the details of this case: who else was up for the job and what factors the Harvard phil. dept. based their decisions on. Rusty has a piece coming out in Phronesis this year, which is arguably the best ancient journal, so I'm sure that helped him.

Wow. This blows my mind. I'd like to think that something like this should give me (and us) a lot of hope and cheer me (and us) up. Yet for some reason, it's not doing that (for me anyway), not anymore than the fact that someone wins the lottery gives me hope that I can win the lottery.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, maybe someone at Harvard thought: "You know, we have something of a history of caring about distributive justice, so we really ought to spread the wealth around a little."

zombie said...

I think Rusty Jones is an AWESOME name for a philosopher.

He da man.

Anonymous said...

1:41:

What did 12:33 say to make you think s/he thinks that no departments care about pedigree because of one hire? Maybe s/he thought that this is one counterexample to those who think being top-20 or whatever is a necessary condition for being hired.

Anonymous said...

Most top departments have at least 1, 2, or 3 people from outside the top tier departments. Sometimes those people even receive tenure and stay. This is nothing new. Not a surprise. All of the standard beliefs about top tier departments still hold.

No "hooray for nasty generalizations". The generalizations are still true. I assume that Rusty Jones demonstrated better qualifications and/or a closer fit for what Harvard happened to be looking for, etc. It is still true that most people from outside the top tier department will tend not to demonstrate better qualifications and/or a closer fit for what most top tier departments look for, etc. There are various reasons for this, most of them obvious and well discussed numerous times elsewhere (in threads on the Leiter blog, etc.).

Anonymous said...

"What did 12:33 say to make you think s/he thinks that no departments care about pedigree because of one hire? Maybe s/he thought that this is one counterexample to those who think being top-20 or whatever is a necessary condition for being hired."

Answer:

"All those who think departments care only about pedigree, remember this."

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, maybe someone at Harvard thought: "You know, we have something of a history of caring about distributive justice, so we really ought to spread the wealth around a little."

Or maybe Rusty Jones is awesome.

Congrats, Rusty!

Anonymous said...

Most top departments have at least 1, 2, or 3 people from outside the top tier departments. Sometimes those people even receive tenure and stay. This is nothing new.

I think your comment implies a substantive misunderstanding. If by "top tier departments" you mean, say, the top ten ranked PGR departments, then sure. But that's not what everyone's talking about.

Rather, people are pointing out that someone from a program ranked below the top 50 got a tt job at Harvard. And while it may not be the first time this has ever happened, it's certainly unusual.

Look at the faculties of the top ten PGR departments. How many tt or tenured faculty took their PhDs from departments outside even the top 30? Top 40? Top 50? Very, very few.

Anonymous said...

6:47,

Uhhhhh.

So, s/he said


All those who think departments care only about pedigree, remember this.

and that led you to conclude that

s/he thinks that no departments care about pedigree
?


Yipes.

Anonymous said...

"Harvard hired someone from Oklahoma? All those who think departments care only about pedigree, remember this."

We have lots of people who think that the typical fancy department cares about pedigree. Then, we have one case where someone who lacks it gets a job. We're then invited to rethink our attitudes about the departments previously thought to care about pedigree to the exclusion of merit. I think that's silly and I think the silliness comes from their thinking that no department comes from pedigree. The silliness comes from thinking that one case should make us rethink how departments in general think about pedigree.

As if this matters.

JG said...

I'm at a school near the bottom of the Leiter Report. We have been trying a lot over the past few years, so I've seen a plethora of candidates come through. *All of the candidates who have come through for on-campus talks have been from top 10 schools*. I repeat: ALL OF THEM.

So don't worry, folks. Pedigree is still alive and well.

Anonymous said...

Just to follow up on JG, I'm at a school that's not even on the Leiter rankings but regards itself as a research department. We've had multiple candidates come to the department for job talks over the years and pretty much no one invited for campus visits comes from outside the top 10. Pubs and the like don't seem to matter at the getting noticed stage or the getting hired stage, it just determines a pecking order when looking at fancy sounding candidates. Pedigree is alive and well at the bottom of the Leiter rankings, outside the Leiter rankings, and I'm sure at the top of the Leiter rankings (w/the exception of Harvard).

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for those in the know: how many newly minted PhDs from outside the top 30 received a job at an MA or PhD granting institution in the last 5 years?

JG said...

Here's a better question for those in the know: how many newly minted PhDs from outside the top 30 received a TT job at *any* institution of higher learning in the last 5 years?

Anonymous said...

94 and 246 respectively.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there might be more pressure on those at the bottom of the PG rankings and those outside the PG rankings to hire from the top 10. They are trying to climb up the ladder, so to speak. Some departments might reason that one way to climb up is to have a faculty full of top 10 PhDs.

Harvard,especially at the jr. hire level may not feel this pressure, because they are, well, Harvard and they already have an excellent staff.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I take it anon @9.47 is answering the two previous questions, as those numbers look about right. Just go to the dept websites of anyone outside the top 30, and look at their placement records. And while you're there, check out the faculty at those institutions, and see where those hired in the last 5 years got their doctorates.

The pgr tracks reputation of faculty of some depts, but not placement in any. More than half of the depts with phd programs in the US *aren't even evaluated*. There's a lot going on in philosophy beyond the pgr, and this is reflected in the success that many programs below the top 30, as well as many programs who aren't even evaluated, have at placing their students in t-t positions.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10.17 here.

Self-correction, the number of programs not even submitted for evaluation in the US is a bit under half - 64/110 were evaluated, according to Leiter. But I'd wager that when we include the overseas programs, it would tip the other way, and this is reasonable given the global nature of the market.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there might be more pressure on those at the bottom of the PG rankings and those outside the PG rankings to hire from the top 10. They are trying to climb up the ladder, so to speak. Some departments might reason that one way to climb up is to have a faculty full of top 10 PhDs.

Or the simpler more charitable answer might be correct - they have different means of determining quality than those at the top. "Top" philosophers might justifiably take their own opinions of candidates' work to trump the word of others (who all have conflicting interests). "Lesser" philosophers might justifiably trust the opinions of others over their own.

Of course, this would not excuse programs that won't consider low-pedigree but well-published candidates. But it can explain why the ABD hires cluster at the top.

Xenophon said...

Congrats, Rusty.

Applicantus said...

i take it anon 9.47 pulled the numbers out of his hat but they still sound plausible given my experience: i just graduated from a low-leiter-ranked department, one of those depts that place well despite the low rankings. every year at least someone gets a job at an MA or PhD granting dept - some ranked some not - and many get decent, nice, good or awesome jobs. (some, however, don't). no one got a job at harvard yet, though :) congrats, rusty!

Anonymous said...

Rusty rocks.

Oh, and 9:51 nailed it. There's far more pressure on the Leiter-unranked and the Leiter-lowly to hire pedigreed candidates.

Another factor is type of institution. Generally speaking, top ranked departments like Rutgers tend to hire more non-pedigreed candidates than top-ranked departments like NYU or Princeton. I'd imagine this has something to do with snobbishness on the part of the Deans at more "elite" private institutions and the fact that Rutgers is, overall, a pretty average public R1. Rutgers has plenty of folk from outside the top 20. NYU and Princeton? Maybe one or two.

Anonymous said...

Not to change the subject, but—how does the pace of postings this year strike people? The list is growing gradually, and there are mostly postdocs so far. Is that usual?

I could go check out past year's leiter threads to answer my own question, but my depression-correlated amotivational syndrome is acting up…

speculator said...

1:38
Another factor is type of institution. Generally speaking, top ranked departments like Rutgers tend to hire more non-pedigreed candidates than top-ranked departments like NYU or Princeton.

Interesting point about Rutgers, but I'm not convinced of the "generally speaking". Look at Michigan and Berkeley, which have 'ranking' profiles more like Princeton's.

I'd imagine this has something to do with snobbishness on the part of the Deans at more "elite" private institutions and the fact that Rutgers is, overall, a pretty average public R1.

Could be. In my experience, flagship state deans are much more interested in pedigree than private deans. But my experience is limited.

Rutgers has plenty of folk from outside the top 20. NYU and Princeton? Maybe one or two.

Are you sure? Foley (Brown), Garrett (Yale, but before it was Leiteriffic), Sider (U Mass).

I think NYU and Rutgers are fairly similar, because they've hired a whole lot of people at senior rank, after they were big shots and their pedigree seemed irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

We expend so much energy writing good dissertations, getting published, perfecting CVs and cover letters and research/teaching statements and all that. We stress and debate and strategerize extensively over how to play the job market, how to compensate for the poverty of our rankings and debating the role of pedigree. We want so badly to systematize and make sense of the job market. And I never thought we could.

But looking at the Leiter jobs thread now, I realize: there is definitely a systematic principle that ensures a TT job placement.

Have a standout name. Look at those names. Clearly, there is something about those people's names that just makes them pop out of a list! Rusty Jones is certainly the most poppin' but the rest are pretty good, too.

Okay, guys. Let's get it together before the next JFP. Someone start figuring what it is about those names that got them jobs, and I'll start investigating the laws about name changes.

TT job at a top school in a major urban area with a light teaching load, breezy tenure process, lovely colleagues, and good weather ... here I come.

Anonymous said...

Um, Rusty Jones's Harvard Placement is no longer listed on Leiter's thread. What's up with that?

Mr. Zero said...

Um, Rusty Jones's Harvard Placement is no longer listed on Leiter's thread. What's up with that?

Clue: "I have had to change the rule, since we have now had an unfortunate case of a faculty member at the candidate's graduate department posting that a candidate had already accepted a job that s/he had only been offered, but had not yet accepted. (With faculty friends like that....)"

Anonymous said...

That's hilarious and ridiculous all at once - the faculty member must have been so excited about the placement, and it must have seemed so inconceivable that he (Rusty Jones) wouldn't take the job at Harvard, that s/he (the prof) forgot all about propriety and, obviously, about not taking a crap on Jones' negotiating position.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Martin Montminy's glad I copy-and-pasted his mistake near the top of this thread. ;)

But, as the headline of the London newspaper read next to a photo of then-college-student, Prince William, puking outside of a pub: "we've all been there."

Anonymous said...

...it must have seemed so inconceivable that he (Rusty Jones) wouldn't take the job at Harvard, that s/he (the prof) forgot all about propriety and, obviously, about not taking a crap on Jones' negotiating position.

This actually STRENGTHENS Rusty's bargaining power, because it backs up his leverage that he has an offer from Harvard on the table, when negotiating with other schools. And Harvard is now even more committed to reeling in the Rustmeister so to save face.

You still da man, Rus.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, either. Rusty is collegial, friendly, and capable of speaking with reasonable competence on pretty much any philosophical topic, at least in my experience. He's a terrific scholar and a decent human being. More power to him.

As for the power of pedigree and the extent to which this incident does or does not speak against its hold on academia, let's pause to remember the main USE of pedigree to search committees - it helps them figure out who's actually qualified.

Would Harvard's faculty care about a letter of recommendation from someone whose work they're not familiar with? Or worse, someone whose work they're familiar with and have contempt for? Clearly not. But coming out of a well-respected program USUALLY means coming out with letters from people that the faculty at the top schools know and think well of. Rusty was able to short-circuit the pedigree issue by making reliance on such heuristics unnecessary. He didn't just present at conferences, he presented at the APA, fer chrissakes. He didn't just get published in some no-name journal, he got a piece in Phronesis. He didn't just goof around during the summer, he got to know and studied with top people in his field.

Bottom line - Harvard and similar schools won't usually hire someone out of the PGR rankings because they can't be sure that the people at the institution in question would even be able to recognize the kind of quality they're looking for if they saw it. With Rusty, they didn't have to worry about that. They could examine his work for themselves, and had favorable comments about his work from some of the leaders in the field.

Anonymous said...

The announcement congratulating Rusty on the Oklahoma Phil Dept site is now gone too.

Jesus this is funny. Kick some ass Rusty!

Anonymous said...

Anon Feb. 16th, 1:05,

Give me a break. The use of pedigree systematically shuts out people from lower ranked and non-ranked programs. Their dossiers most of the time don't even get looked at.

I don't doubt that Rusty is a first rate philosopher. But it is also the case that tons of other folks who don't have pedigree are busting their butts doing all things that you mentioned Rusty did, i.e. present at the APA, network, and publish in top journals.

Anonymous said...

By no means am I saying the system doesn't deal out injustice. But, seriously, find me one person on the market this year from a non-PGR-ranked department who has accomplishments similar in number *and* prestige to Rusty's, and I'll eat my words. That was my point. Rusty has performed *so unusually well* for someone from a program like Oklahoma's that he got noticed. As other commenters have noted, it doesn't mean that pedigree counts for nothing anymore, but it does mean that top schools are perhaps more open to considering non-pedigreed, high-performing candidates than we previously believed.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 5:38 PM.
Rusty is Rudy. More power to him. Little fuckers like me shouldn't get it into our heads that we can play football for Notre Dame now just because he did.

When I went on the market the first time, I had multiple APA presentations. No interviews. I add some more APA presentations, a teaching award, some good publications. No interviews. I've been on the market four years, I've published 2-3 good articles per year, and I've landed 3 interviews for TT jobs and only two of them were sort of okay. I had good stats back when there actually were jobs. Didn't do me any good.

Anonymous said...

...it does mean that top schools are perhaps more open to considering non-pedigreed, high-performing candidates than we previously believed.

Why the rush to generalize from the occasional anomaly? This tendency was flagged twice within the first five comments on this thread, and yet somehow it persists.

A second thing to note about the pedigree conversation is that unfair uses of pedigree are often assumed to be one-dimensional, i.e. that it's simply about candidates being shut out on account of their lack of pedigree. Yet, another way in which pedigree is used unfairly is when the presence of pedigree is treated as a substitute for one, or more, qualifications which a candidate lacks in relation to the other candidates that year.

Anonymous said...

And Harvard is now even more committed to reeling in the Rustmeister so to save face.

This might make sense if someone from Harvard had posted news of the hire. But that's not the case. Martin Montminy is the one who mistakenly reported the hire, and he's on the faculty at Oklahoma.

Anonymous said...

Good clarification, 9:19. And way to blow it, Marty.

Or maybe this was a calculated move by Oklahoma. If Rusty was inclined to reject Harvard, then Oklahoma would want it to be known that its graduates are getting offers from places like Harvard, so it risked hurting Rusty's standing with his suitors for the benefit from bragging.

How big that risk might be is unclear: In what scenarios would Rusty be disadvantaged by this? It would seem to help him to make it known that he's in demand.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, there was no error made by Oklahoma. Those involved just wanted to wait until the contract was signed before it went up on any websites.

Anonymous said...

it risked hurting Rusty's standing with his suitors for the benefit from bragging.

How did the comment hurt Rusty's standing with his suitors?

Anonymous said...

Potential problems with offer disclosure by Oklahoma's placement director:

1) Hire/offer was not official (either the candidate has not officially accepted or the offer has yet to get official approval). Depts are notoriously silent about offers until they become official, and so the early disclosure will likely rankle a few folks on the search committee. Additionally, should the dean discover that the candidate or someone connected to him/her has been advertising an official offer all over the web before that offer has in fact received that Dean's stamp of approval, this may create a source of friction between the candidate, the department, and the admin. To be sure, not a great way to start.

2) More dangerous, I suppose, is that other hiring depts considering the candidate may, given the offer disclosure, negatively their adjust interest/expectations. For example, suppose the candidate is being considered by Non-X University. Non-X learns of the X offer, reasons that they would be unable to compete with X, and so Non-X decides not to make an offer to the candidate (where they otherwise would have done so absent the X offer info). Subsequently, the candidate has fewer offers (or no other offers); the disclosure deprives the candidate of choices that would have otherwise been available.

Moreover, even if the candidate would in all cases accept the X offer, having fewer (or no other) offers entails having a weaker negotiating position than the candidate would have otherwise had, so the X offer disclosure could well result in the candidate receiving a substantially lower salary from X than otherwise would have been the case.

Of course, I hope that the offer-disclosure gaffe will turn out to be nothing more than a harmless and innocent mistake rather than something that non-negligibly disadvantages the candidate: a cautionary tale to be passed between placement directors at the APA Smoker.

Anonymous said...

How did the comment hurt Rusty's standing with his suitors?

Here's one way it might have.

School A was about to make RJ an offer. Then School A reads that RJ has accepted an offer from Harvard. School A reasons that it is very unlikely he'll back out on Harvard for them, and so offers the position to someone else. But had School A made RJ the offer, he could have used it as a bargaining chip with Harvard.

Similar reasoning applies, by the way, even if it had only been reported that Harvard made RJ an offer, which he hadn't yet accepted.

Anonymous said...

Hm. I think 5:25 and 5:26 don't understand how these things work.

In general, when a candidate gets an offer from School X, she informs all her other job prospects right away. This helps the candidate by making her more desirable in her suitors' eyes.

I understand that when X=Harvard, another suitor, Empty State U (Podunk Ghetto Campus), might sensibly reason, "She's out of our reach now." But for just the same reason, actually getting an offer from ESU (PGC) isn't going to help her bargaining position with Harvard in any case.

So I have to agree with those who think the revelation can only help Rusty.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:38. You're mistaken. When a candidate gets an offer from X, he/she may well inform all other prospects that he/she now has an offer but certainly will not inform them that he/she has an offer from X. Candidates reveal the particulars only at the negotiation stage.

Anonymous said...

To answer a now long-ago question from Anon 2:15 about the pace of postings on Leiter's thread:

There are currently 20 posts on Leiter's thread, announcing 22 separate hires/postdocs. As of this date last year, there were also 20 posts on Leiter's thread from 2008/09, also announcing 22 separate hires/postdocs. Granted, he had started the thread more than a week earlier, but the dearth of posts from early February suggest makes me think that doesn't matter.

My conclusion: The pace of postings is, so far, the same as last year's.

Others may wish to compare the 2007/08 thread, too.

Anonymous said...

Also to 4:38: the applicant may actually prefer to take a job with Empty State U -- yes, even over Harvard -- provided that the job pays at all respectably. Perhaps the job is located in a place that feels to the candidate like home or perhaps the candidate's spouse has a TT job in the area, or the the candidate feels intimidated by Harvard or any of a myriad of other reasons.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:07 hit on something that I think has genuinely been absent in this thread. Not /everyone/ would take a job at Harvard, even if it were offered and it were desirable.

As mentioned in an earlier thread about the kinds of jobs people takes, we are "taught" by our discipline that "good" jobs are jobs at highly-privileged research schools ranked highly by other members of the profession; in other words, it is a part of our disciplinary status quo to assume the only things job candidates should care about is how the job looks to the rest of the profession, and that the job entails teaching just a few privileged students and doing all this research.

But some people might have other priorities. (I know, gasp!) Some people might want to get jobs near their aging parents, in anticipation of their needing care. Some people want to raise families in different kinds of environments. Some people might actually have partners who they've miraculously managed to get or hold onto throughout grad school and might actually want to consider their needs as well. Some people might, you know, not want to spend the next decade of their adult life stressing about whether or not they'll get tenure at Harvard in the same way they spent the previous ten years of their adult life stressing about whether or not they'll get a job.

You know. Some people might, like, actually be people with, like, desires and values of their own, that, like, other people might not share, and, like, might want to, you know, try to achieve some of those desires and live with those values.

But you know. I'm just speculating here.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Harvard is notorious for not tenuring its junior hires.

JG said...

Anon 7:21,

I love you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:23 is right about the "folding chairs" at Harvard, but it's hardly a tragedy. Since the Big H basically never tenures junior faculty, it's no black mark if someone fails to make tenure, and virtually all such junior faculty inevitably wind up with a tenured offer at a very respectable school.

Anonymous said...

I need to feed the obsession. We had a thread about campus visits, and this thread is about filled positions. But what happens in between. Suppose you've had an on-campus visit. How long does it take for a decision to be made (assuming the department made only vague statements, such as "soon" or "hopefully be mid-February")? Do they contact their second or third choices when they make an offer to candidate number 1 ? (i.e., is the fact that one has not been contacted good evidence that no decision has been made?)

zombie said...

Anon 7:21 -- like, right on! It's amazing the crazy things grown-ups care about.

I went to not-exactly Podunk State U., but not a R1 school either. I had a prof who used to be at Stanford. When I asked her why the hell she would leave Stanford to be at no-name State U., she said "No one gets tenure at Stanford."

Silly grown-ups.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:21: I like to think I'd be able to say no to Harvard for these reasons, and talk like this all the time, but come on: who is really going to say no to this sort of opportunity?

Zombie: investigate your case a little more!

Anonymous said...

@10:54am

Me. There is no way in hell I would take a job at Harvard. I love my family, and spend enough time away from them as it is.

(Not that Harvard is offering.)

I'm guessing that you're young.

Anonymous 7:21 said...

JG, I love you too! I seem to get a lot of love when I comment here. I am not sure if this is a good thing. It might make me feel like I have something worth saying and trying to start a blog of my own. And lord knows I don't already have enough work to do.

Anon 8:40. Still. You might not want to wait until you are denied tenure at Harvard, 8 years later. Etc.

Zombie: I know. Grown-ups and their risk-averseness. And their awareness that they are getting old and wanting some stability because their bodies are giving out and they realize they can't read for like 18 hours straight anymore. And their aching backs. (Seriously. All this reading. I don't think my neck will ever be the same.)

Anon 10:54. No offense, but I would not take a job at Harvard. I teach philosophy in the ghetto. And that's pretty much where I'm from. Or, economically and geographically close enough anyway. I'm familiar with it. My experiences with Ivy types have taught me ~ very easily ~ that I am so culturally distinct from those people that I would feel miserable. I've got a friend doing a Ph.D. (not in Philosophy) at an Ivy. He's from the trailer park basically. And he spends most of his time feeling so completely out of touch with the people around him that they think he's the snob ~ because he doesn't have the background to talk about summers spent in Europe or have a palette for two and three hundred dollar bottles of wine. Nope. I'm gonna stick to the ghetto, where the people make sense to me and I make sense to them. What I would do is use a Harvard offer to negotiate the SHIT out of an offer I really want.

To quote Anon 12:22, "Not that Harvard's offering."

Anon 12:22: Wait, you actually love your family? I don't really love mine, but feel obligated to them anyway. How odd. ;)

Anonymous said...

Harvard got rid of 'folding chairs' 20 years ago. They have tenured Susanna Siegel, Alison Simmons, Richard Heck (he left) in last ten years. Harvard now tenures. Different world.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:59 - "folding chairs" are still a reality, and any one who tells you different is shining you on. They may have tenured as many people in the last decade as they did in the century prior, but the relevant comparison class is how many people they DIDN'T tenure in the last decade - i.e., still most of them. It's now SOMEWHAT possible to get tenure at Harvard, but a step up from epically non-do-able doesn't mean that "folding chairs" are history. I mean, that's the whole purpose of their "pre-tenure" review policy; it's essentially a heads-up, letting you know whether you'll get tenure when it comes. If you don't pass the "pre-tenure" review, you know to start looking. And, if you didn't completely loaf around, you'll do well. Hell, you gotta spend the time in purgatory before getting tenure no matter WHERE you go, so why not spend it at Harvard, earning a Harvard salary? At the end of it, you get a tenure-on-arrival post somewhere else and you're no worse off than if you'd been at the school you ended up at all along.

Anonymous said...

6:57, no, you're completely wrong about this.
Folding chairs at Harvard were infamous, but it's true they've been gone for a long time. A folding chair was an officially untenurable position, and for a couple of decades they were almost the only junior positions at Harvard.
Obviously, it is now difficult to get tenure at Harvard. But the positions are definitely not folding chairs.

I really don't understand all the excitement about the obvious that fact that some people would prefer much lower-status jobs to a job at Harvard. Why is this supposed to be such a revelation, or so important? They know that the rejections of their offers will be few, and the rejections in favor of Low-Status State U's will be very close to nil.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:50

Anon 7:07 here. It's supposed to be important because it means that in posting the news that a candidate was offered a position at Harvard, it's a genuine possibility that other schools will be scared off -- and because there's a non-negligible chance that the candidate will prefer those jobs and want to use Harvard eventually to negotiate with them (after they've made an offer), the posting harms the candidate.

Anonymous said...

5:35, you don't think Rusty could just tell these other places, "Look, it's true I've been offered the Harvard job, but don't count me out because I'll take yours if you make a realistic offer"?

This seems perfectly reasonable to me. Maybe I'm just being naive.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:50 - the fact that the "folding chairs" were *officially* untenurable was something I was unaware of. All I meant to assert was that most junior positions did not lead to Harvard tenure but still usually lead to tenure at some other desirable institution. If my use of the term, freighted with more meaning than I was aware, led me to assert more than that, I apologize.

Anonymous said...

5:35: I think there are plenty of folks on search committees that would think that the candidate could easily be trying for a good negotiating position with Harvard because, to quote an earlier commenter, "come on: who is really going to say no to [that] sort of opportunity?". If the committee were leaning toward the candidate but there was a second candidate that looked primed to take the job, it could easily sway a committee eager to just end the search.

Anonymous said...

7:15, here. I meant to direct that comment not to 5:35 (me) but to 6:55. Also, I should mention that if the candidate did inform the school -- prior to receiving the offer -- that he would accept their offer and turn down Harvard's if the offer was reasonable, this itself harms his negotiating position. To the extent it doesn't harm his negotiating position, he's going to have to make clear that some negotiating will still have to be done. And that will make him seem more like trouble.

In negotiating, it is essential to to have control over the information the other parties have. Assuming the candidate didn't leak the information himself for his own purposes, the posting deprives the candidate of this control.

Anonymous said...

@6:57:

Not to distract the discussion with facts, but of the junior people to have left Harvard since (roughly) 2000 (4, I think?), I'm pretty sure that at most one of those departures was related to tenure review issues.

Anonymous said...

Did Harvard advertise in the JFP for a TT job this year?

I didn't think they had.

Anonymous said...

HARVARD UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE, MA. The Department of Philosophy at Harvard University seeks to make a tenure-track appointment, expected to begin on July 1, 2010. AOS: Classical Philosophy. AOC: Open. Teaching duties will include four courses per year at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels with usual advising and administrative responsibilities. A strong doctoral record is required. Demonstrated excellence in teaching is desired. Applicants should submit a CV, at least three letters of recommendation, and a sample of written work (which will not be returned) to: Classical Philosophy Search Committee, Department of Philosophy, 209A Emerson Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. No faxes please. The deadline for applications is November 20, 2009. Harvard is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Applications from women and minorities are strongly encouraged. (SW09), (183)

--from JFP Vol. 183

Anonymous said...

Harvard's was Advertisement #1 in JFP 183. (Login required for link).

Anonymous said...

U Texas El Paso, which has a hire listed on Leiter, did not advertise, however. That's a hire from last year's cycle.

Anonymous said...

Some people might want to get jobs near their aging parents, in anticipation of their needing care. Some people want to raise families in different kinds of environments.

Oh come on, do you really think anyone has declined a job offer from Harvard because of these or other reasons? There's a theoretical possibility, but in the real world, this does not happen. If you disagree, please name names.

Maybe Rusty Jones will be the first to do so, but the smart money says nuh-uh.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:32

Anon 7:07 here. I don't know the names of anyone who has turned down an offer from Harvard, but nor do I know the names of anyone who was offered a job at Harvard at all (other than, you know, the philosopher currently working there or who have worked there in the past). So my sample size is small.

I do, however, know the names of many people who have turned down jobs at what they would have described as their "dream jobs" because of family-related matters: no job for the spouse, lack of proximity to parents, the kids have already found their place in school in the current location, etc.

I'm sorry I don't feel it's appropriate to share all the names and places. But I'm not sure why it's so hard for some people to fathom that, for many people, there are other and more important priorities than landing an R1. Really. In the real world.

Anonymous 7:21 said...

Well, Anon 10:32.

I guess all I can say in response is this.

I don't *know* anyone who *actually* has turned down a job offer from *Harvard* because of these reasons.

And I don't actually know this Rusty Jones fellow at all -- never heard of him before this thread -- though his good reputation certainly precedes him from what I've read in this thread. And I'm /not at all claiming/ to know anything about that situation.

All I am claiming is that some people might have preferences and values that lead them to make choices outside of the scope of what the culture of our academic discipline values (i.e., taking a job at a top school). And if someone is one of those people, the actions of a person like the faculty member in question here can seriously harm a job candidate's ability to do what what's best for them and what they want to do.

And, while I don't know anyone who's turned down Harvard, I *do* know many people (who are good philosophers and some other academics as well) who have left "good, research jobs" to take jobs with "less notoriety" for similar reasons. I also know of people who have completely opted out of the job market and taken other good jobs (in university administration and the like) for these reasons. I'm not going to sit here and give you names and discuss other people's personal business. But I'll talk about myself.

On this statement of yours: "There's a theoretical possibility, but in the real world, this does not happen."

Actually, this is precisely what happens in the real world. In the real world, people /sometimes/ care about things that aren't philosophy. You know, like their families and stuff. I am not sure how old you are, or what your family and personal relationships are like. But I am the oldest sibling in my family, and currently the only gainfully employed adult, as my father was laid off from his job of 27 years. My parents are aging and constantly experiencing illnesses. My (much younger) sister is in college and needs support. My husband is a vet in law school who routinely deals with health issues due to his military history. I love philosophy. I love reading and writing and scholarship. But philosophy and reading and writing and scholarship do not get old and die. Their days with you are numbered only as much as your days are numbered. People get old, get sick, die, and need help and support.

I understand a lot of people don't feel this way or have these kind of relationships with their families. And there's nothing wrong with that; everyone has different lives, different connections, and different relationships to others. People have different wants and different priorities. Good for you if you know what those priorities are and going after them whole-heartedly.

But if it is /totally unfathomable/ to you that someone might actually have different priorities and different emotional bonds that lead to a different set of preferences other than ones you (and some others) have, then I'd say you are definitely bereft of something. I don't know if its empathy or perspective. Maybe you are just young enough or lucky enough that you've never had to experience or deal with any of these choices. But they /are/ real choices and real people make them all the time -- whether they are philosophers or not.

In Grown Up Land, where I live, sometimes you have preferences that clash and you have to decide what's more important. And different people think different things are more important. Is that really so unfathomable?

Anonymous said...

Uh, 10:32 didn't say it's "unfathomable", or anything like that. He said it doesn't happen.
The only way to refute this is to give an example. If nobody knows of one, then all you can say is that as far as you know, 10:32 is correct.

And the point about "the real world" is that for practical purposes it matters much more what has actually happened and what is likely to happen then what is theoretically possible (in 10:32's words).

I'm not 10:32, by the way. But I figure 10:32 is probably right.

Anonymous said...

3:16

7:07 here. Let's look at the evidence. There are a number of people who have claimed in this thread that they would turn down Harvard. Both I and 7:21 report knowing people who have turned down excellent jobs on the basis of reasons denied to be efficacious by 10:32. I personally know that those people would have preferred those excellent jobs to Harvard. It is also absolutely clear that some offers from Harvard, unless conjoined with offers for spouses, could not be accepted.

While neither I nor 7:21 know of anyone who has turned down Harvard, at least I (and presumably 7:21) know of real people in the real world who have turned down elite offers for the reasons that 10:32 denies are efficacious. Is the claim that Harvard and Harvard alone is immune from the force of such reasons?

It's not that this is just anecdotal evidence. It makes sense given really plausible assumptions about differences in priorities among different people and rather obvious points about how it can be impossible for people in certain situations to accept certain job offers, no matter how desirable.

Anonymous said...

Is the claim that Harvard and Harvard alone is immune from the force of such reasons?

I dunno -- I'm certainly not claiming that.
But nobody's given an example of someone who turned down Princeton for the kinds of reasons that made 10:32 skeptical, either.

I guess several of the things you've mentioned are evidence for you, but since you won't (for perfectly good reasons, of course) specify them, they aren't evidence for anyone else.

Oh, and people announcing anonymously here at The Philosophy Smoker that they would turn down the Harvard job if offered isn't evidence at all. Obviously.

Anonymous said...

7:07 again. Well, either we're all lying, or the fact that we're saying so is evidence for you as well. The only reason to think we're lying is to think that such motivations are "unfathomable" (which is where that word comes from). Otherwise, why not take all of us at our word when we say either that we wouldn't take Harvard over other schools or that we know people who turned down jobs they would have preferred even to Harvard? Again, it should be clear why we'd not really want to name actual names and places.

Anonymous said...

This is getting weirdly personal. Nobody is denying that it is possible for people to value things other than affiliation with a prestigious school. Duh. I doubt anyone thinks being a junior hire at Harvard or Princeton is the be-all-end-all. What I find hard to believe is that such a person would end up in the position where they would need to turn down such a job.

First of all, having all those other priorities makes it unlikely (though not impossible) that one would be able to do all the shit you need to do to even get on Harvard's radar. Then, presumably, one would have to make it through an interview and a visit without having accidentally let on that this isn't even a job one would want. What kind of sociopath could succeed at that?

Most of us don't consider a job at Harvard the greatest thing that could possibly happen to us, but still are skeptical that anyone would really ever turn it down to teach at a state school near home or something. I know of plenty of people who were tied to some geographical area, and quite prudently they limited their job search to jobs they would actually be able to take.

So those of you who are saying you wouldn't want to work at Harvard, I'm assuming you didn't even waste your money sending them a CV. If you did, then I take that as evidence that you don't really mean it. No one's saying that everybody wants to land at a prestigious R1, we're just saying that it is VERY hard to believe that anyone who could do everything they need to do to get such an offer would turn it down for reasons that limited their realistic options long before they went on the market.

Anonymous said...

I personally know someone (it shouldn't be hard to figure out who) who a few years back turned down Harvard, Princeton and Berkeley (among others) for a job at a Leiter 20ish department. The decision was partly due to an SO and partly due to weather. So, not a case of someone making a huge professional sacrifice, but nevertheless an example.

Anonymous said...

This is really too funny. Do any of the posters who have been asking for hard evidence really expect others to name names? No one with a hint of tact is going to do that. (Tact is really helpful for getting jobs, by the way.)

I suspect that we tend, before reflection, to assume (falsely) that most others share approximately the values of the company we keep. I confess that the Tea Party supporters (for example) continue to surprise me and force me to reflect again on the fact that this assumption is false.

Yes, people turn down extremely prestigious jobs for uncontroversially less prestigious jobs. It happens. I've seen it; more than once. Obviously I don't know the numbers, but I doubt I just happen to have been privy to a disproportional number of instances.

This is only slightly relevant to the discussion, but I've also known people who wish they hadn't taken the more prestigious job.

An indicator of good sense and wisdom is the capacity to appreciate that the value rankings of others often differ from our own and that these differences can be reasonable. Seriously, grow up.

Anonymous said...

7:17 PM,

I think I know who you're talking about. If I am right, then let me assure you, given this person's AOS, it was no professional sacrifice at all. In fact, it was probably the best offer he had. No one chooses a job based on *overall* Leiter ranking. That would be weird. It would also be weird to choose a job based on Leiter area rankings, but at least those are pretty closely correlated with what you want in a department.

Anonymous said...

6:24, well said, I completely agree. And I can see that it's at least partly my fault that it got personal -- I didn't mean anything personal, but I can see how my saying that opaque personal anecdotes aren't evidence might be taken personally. All I meant was, some anonymous comment in a blog has practically zero evidential value to an average reader of the blog. I'm not assuming anyone is lying, and if the comments weren't anonymous I'd think the anecdotes had some weight. But it's not exactly testimony under oath.

7:17, I know a case similar to that (the details don't quite match what you said). I thought the question on the table was about the likelihood of a much greater "sacrifice", like turning down a top five to teach at an urban CC or third-tier state u.

9:22,
Do any of the posters who have been asking for hard evidence really expect others to name names?

No. Read more carefully.
As 5:33 said, the reasons for not naming names are perfectly good reasons. We don't expect the names to be named, but we think that since they aren't, the posters posting the anonymous anecdotes with anonymous characters should recognize that they haven't given hard evidence.

Anonymous said...

7:07 again

Since hard evidence is supposed to be at such a premium, what exactly is the hard evidence that in the real world no one would ever turn down Harvard in favor of some less prestigious position for reasons having to do with family? All I've seen so far in terms of hard evidence are claims like, "but come on: who is really going to say no to this sort of opportunity" and "Oh come on, do you really think anyone has declined a job offer from Harvard because of these or other reasons? There's a theoretical possibility, but in the real world, this does not happen." Those who claim it does happen have actually said they have evidence at their disposal. Those who claim it doesn't are relying on what exactly as their hard evidence?

Can anyone provide an example of someone who has turned down SUNY New Paltz in favor of Harvard, when family matters have leaned heavily toward New Paltz? It won't do to name other schools people have turned down in favor of Harvard, because apparently it's not serving as evidence that people have turned down non-Harvard prestigious schools in favor of less prestigious schools.

Anonymous said...

Since hard evidence is supposed to be at such a premium, what exactly is the hard evidence that in the real world no one would ever turn down Harvard in favor of some less prestigious position for reasons having to do with family?

The evidence for such a position -- that no one really turns down an offer from Harvard -- is that there is no evidence. This doesn't make the mistake of arguing from ignorance when one has looked around and been around for a while such that s/he would have heard oof such a counterexample. Therefore, the burden of proof is on those who contend otherwise.

[Uppity philosophers who miss the point: Here's where you start reflexively pointing out the limitations of deductions and citing examples with blackbirds and grue.]

Anonymous said...

7:07 writes:

Anon 7:50 said

"The evidence for such a position -- that no one really turns down an offer from Harvard -- is that there is no evidence. This doesn't make the mistake of arguing from ignorance when one has looked around and been around for a while such that s/he would have heard oof such a counterexample. Therefore, the burden of proof is on those who contend otherwise."

But I have no evidence that anyone has ever turned down any specific less prestigious school in favor of Harvard, either. The reason that has been invoked in favor of the view that everyone would do so is that it makes sense, given what we know of human aspirations, that Harvard would be a more desirable place, prima facie, than less prestigious schools. But it also makes sense, given what we know of human aspirations, that some people would be forced to or want to turn down Harvard because of reasons having to do with family. So, at best the "makes sense" intuitions cut both ways. But, because one side (yours) is making a really implausible universal generalization -- that in the real world no one would ever do such a thing -- and the other side is simply saying that people can have a wide variety of motivations and demands and that sometimes they can pull people from Harvard, in fact the "makes sense" intuitions lean very heaviliy in favor of the view that, sometimes, some people are going to be forced to or want to turn down offers from Harvard in favor of less prestigious offers.

Then on top of that there is the actual evidence offered by real people on this thread that they would or have turned down offers they would prefer to Harvard. The only reason, again, to insist that such testimony is untrustworthy is if there is a prior belief that such motives are unfathomable.

Anonymous said...

7:07/8:07 said: But, because one side (yours) is making a really implausible universal generalization -- that in the real world no one would ever do such a thing...

I believe the point isn't that no one would ever do such a thing (since the original poster admitted to its theoretical possibility), but that no one has in fact ever done such a thing.

Anonymous said...

7:07 writes:

8:53 said:

"I believe the point isn't that no one would ever do such a thing (since the original poster admitted to its theoretical possibility), but that no one has in fact ever done such a thing."

The original debate was about whether posting the Harvard offer stands a reasonable chance at harming a candidate. What matters to that debate is whether it is at all plausible that the applicant would prefer those other offers. So, the issue is not simply about whether in fact anyone has ever turned down offers from Harvard in favor of less prestigious schools. The issue is whether there is any signficant chance that an applicant would choose to. And, it seems clear, there is a significant enough chance that posting risks harm to the applicant's negotiating position with those other schools.

Anonymous said...

This is switching gears a bit, but I thought I would ask the following question: is it advisable to contact the chair of a search committee for a department's decision if the time table that was stated during the visit has now passed? I suppose the answer is no, but I thought I would solicit some opinions from others. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is it advisable to contact the chair of a search committee for a department's decision if the time table that was stated during the visit has now passed?

My inclination is to say: don't contact unless you have some other kind of offer, and you need an update on the status of the job search in order to make an informed decision about the offer.

Anonymous said...

What matters to that debate is whether it is at all plausible that the applicant would prefer those other offers.

I think this is wrong. What matters isn't whether it is plausible that someone would; what matters is whether it is likely that someone will. There are many things that it is very plausible someone would do under some circumstances, that you don't expect to see happen with any likelihood in a given instance.

it seems clear, there is a significant enough chance that posting risks harm to the applicant's negotiating position with those other schools.

Not to me. It seems clear that there is some chance, of course. It is very unclear whether there is any significant chance. That there are no examples of its ever happening at least raises real doubt about the likelihood.

Look, it is also clear that there is some chance that the posting will help the applicant's negotiating position. What matters is which chance is greater (and how great the potential harms and helps).

Filosofer said...

Wow. This is really dumb.

Anonymous said...

Re contacting search committees after a reasonable period: Of course you can. Just a brief, "I'm wondering if there's anything you can tell me about the progress of your search." Be polite, deferential, and inquisitive.

Anonymous said...

I second 6:02pm

Anonymous said...

Filosofer,

What's the referent of the "This" in your 6:02 -- the thread as a whole, some particular discussion within it, or a specific post?

Filosofer said...

Oh, just the "would someone ever turn down an offer from Harvard" mega-thread.

The rest is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Which one of you is Rusty?

Anonymous said...

Nice to know that the system is so corrupt that a certain hire "was spoken for" since LAST YEAR. Glad that I wasted my time applying twice, as well as wasted my hard earned money for a spot that was held out for a good old boy.

Your a fake, and you've been called out.

This is seriously total bullshit. Injustice. To get your job handed to you because of politics, and everyone knows it but can't say a damn thing.

Fuck you. Seriously. Fuck you. And this makes our profession look better? Gosh, everyone in our very small and limited field KNOWS why this person was hired. Super negative backlash, too, to the department who hired him. This just makes everyone look bad. I am really ashamed to even be on the market with this shit going on.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:53:

what the hell are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 10:53, what the hell are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Really, what are you talking about? It'd be good to know...

Anonymous said...

Absent any additional information, the comment by Anon 10:53 feels like a scene out of French avant-garde film. Like you've just witnessed a display of pronounced aggression and yet are completely barren of any contextual clues which will allow you to evaluate its merits.

Anonymous said...

I'm not 10:53, but it's not hard to guess the target(s) of his/her abuse. Look at the end of the Leiter list. Think of which departments had ads last year. Consider which hire might be thought to have had a relatively easy path. (Hint: if someone is hired at an excellent place while having no publications, no teaching experience, and only a very few serious conference presentations, that person might have had a relatively easy path.) People who have relatively easy paths to good jobs are just naturally easy targets, whatever the case about desert.

But, you already knew all of that.

Anonymous said...

2:14, this description seems to fit someone there who is female (the end of the list, an excellent place, no pubs, no teaching, few presentations), while 10:53 was targeting a male hire. so the mystery remains! please, 10:53, shed some light?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any comment on whether a recent hire had an allegedly relatively easy path. But, if true, the opening line of 10:53's comment is disturbing: "a certain hire 'was spoken for' since LAST YEAR." I'm curious as to the basis for this claim. And, if the claim's true, whether this sort of thing happens with relative frequency.

Anonymous said...

If Person A writes something nasty about an unspecified person, and Person B strongly suggests that Person A's comment was directed at Person C, but A's comment doesn't apply to C, has anyone committed libel?

More seriously, it seems unfair to impute anything unsavory to anyone based on the unsupported rant of an anonymous blog comment. We don't know whether 10:53's allegations are true, and we don't know whether they were directed toward the person that 2:14 suggests. I think we all need to back off unless 10:53 cares to elaborate and defend his or her statements.

Mr. Zero said...

I'm sensitive to the suggestions that there is something "improper" about 10:53's comment. I debated whether I ought to approve it; I looked around the Leiter thread and the wikis and didn't see an obvious target, so I decided I was more curious than worried and decide to publish it.

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that if person A goes on an unhinged rant about someone without identifying the target, and person B says I suspect it was about someone who satisfies the following vague description you'd have to do a lot of your own research in order to connect to a name, nobody has libeled anybody.

Anonymous said...

Anyway: Congrats to person C (although I, person D, really wanted job E, at University F).

Anonymous said...

Rusty Jones hired by Harvard (again, sort of). Go le grand orange!

Anonymous said...

Yay Rusty!