Sunday, January 29, 2012

The line starts here...

Anon brings to our attention this gem:

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS, DENTON, TX. Lecturer, Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies. The Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies invites applications for the position of lecturer. This is a 1-year position that carries a 4/4 teaching load. Salary competitive. Required qualifications: Earned Ph. D. in philosophy and a minimum of 5 years full-time university teaching experience. AOS: Modern Philosophy. AOC: Ancient Philosophy. Preferred qualifications: experience teaching epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of literature; scholarly record of interest in or support of the department’s long-standing and continuing focus on the history of philosophy; familiarity with some branch of environmental philosophy that complements the department’s strengths in this area.

Wow. That's some wish list. They want to hire you for one year, so they're not looking for someone who is TT. But they also want you to have PhD in hand and a minimum five years of full-time teaching experience. That's far more than most TT jobs require. So, ABDs and many freshly minted PhDs need not apply for this 4/4 delight in scenic Denton, Texas. (To be fair, I've never been to Denton. It might be really nice.) It kinda goes against the conventional wisdom that it's not an asset to be a serial VAP. You'd almost have to be one for this job. (I like the part about "earned PhD" too -- none of those Cracker Jack PhDs they give away, Bub!)

Curious.

~zombie

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

That requirement of a minimum of five years' full time teaching experience is so demanding that excellent candidates who got TT jobs this year wouldn't be qualified, but it is also mighty specific. Any chance the ad was written to be perfect for someone the search committee already has in mind?

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 6:40

If that's true, and if I were the person who that ad was written to fit, I'd say "with friends like these..."

Anonymous said...

Denton is a strangely cool town for Texas. You know how people say something derisive about the state of Texas qualified by "...except Austin! That place is cool!"? Denton is also an exception, just on a significantly smaller scale.

Anonymous said...

my guess is that economic pressures meant that someone who had been previously employed there got downsized, and this was the department and Dean's way of hiring that person back, at least for a year.

Anonymous said...

No idea what they were thinking, but I suspect that the five years teaching could include also teaching as a graduate instructor. If that's true, it really wouldn't exclude a lot of people.

Word verification: proust.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like an unhealthy department. They can't agree on what they want/need, so they come up with a terrible ad.

Anonymous said...

I think second guessing ads is in general relatively fruitless. And if there is an "inside" candidate, then, as 6:47 points out, it's not clear how the department is doing that person any favors.

But if you want to waste way too much time (or have insomnia...sigh), go take a look at the department pages. The tenured and TT faculty all carry between 1-1 to 2-2 course loads. It is a PhD program with a fair number of graduate students. Most of the faculty specialize in Environmental Ethics and "Environmental Philosophy." Indeed there is a Center devoted to this area of study. (Someone also does "philosophy of food." Interesting.)

The VAP position is a 4-4 load. The desired areas of specialization and teaching competence mentioned in the ad map very neatly onto a set of courses currently being taught by a single individual who is listed as an adjunct and has been teaching four courses a semester for just the last year. Perhaps they are looking to hire him back or perhaps the department is looking for anyone to cover a set of courses they want taught, but which no regular faculty is interested in teaching.

The adjunct has been teaching the following courses: Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Ancient Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Literature, and a gob of Intro to Philosophy sections. Apparently Denton is a land where named chairs teach environmental ethics and adjuncts teach philosophy of mind. A wondrous, distant land.

Anonymous said...

Then again, be a VAP for 5 years in small departments and it's not that surprising that you would be able to teach that many different courses...I'm in a small department and I have to be able to cover pretty much anything they need, except continental. And I'm sure I'll be asked to do that sometime soon...

Anonymous said...

Hargrove and Callicott are there, so interest in enviro is probably so the hire fits in. It's a reall strong enviro dept.

As for the other stuff that's probably just the courses that are already on the books. Most of us don't teach 4 versions of our PhD, but whatever is needed to make the curriculum work. They're not necessary conditions, but desiderata--if you fit those things, you're lucky.

Earned PhD. well that's just academic talk that has probably filtered down from other searches--there are honorary degrees out there, I'm sure not many in philosophy, but they're out there. Pretty standard description especially in searches for Deans etc.

5 years experience that's pretty sick, unless the pay is commensurate or better than a 5 yr TT (to compensate for moving etc.)

Like all of these positions--for the right person in the right circumstances this might be an great opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Say what you will, UNT has a great radio station. It's call sign? KUNT.

Anonymous said...

I have no comment on the ad, but Denton the town is actually pretty OK. Anon 6:48 is on point. It's part of the "triangle" of Dallas/ Fort Worth/ Denton (that everyone outside of Denton just refers to as "Dallas/ Fort Worth"). I was quite surprised when I was there.

Anonymous said...

Is this on JFP web only ads. I can't find JFP anymore on the APA website. Where is it?

And the radio station is KNTU.

Filosofer said...

I like the ad that showed up on the Chronicle's website for St. Mary's U., which includes this gem: "A working familiarity with the critical realism of Bernard Lonergan is essential for participation in the department's mission."

Call me cynical, but it wouldn't shock me if they already have a candidate in mind. That, or they have quite a mission statement.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:48

Yeah, that's the old joke, but lest readers believe there actually is a college radio station out there with those letters (which would be just a little too good, right?): the UNT radio station is actually KNTU.

Bummer.

Mr. Zero said...

I suspect that the five years teaching could include also teaching as a graduate instructor.

Since the ad says "five years full-time" experience. I don't think time as a grad instructor would count. I don't know about you, but my graduate instructorships were all technically half-time and were a lot closer to third- or quarter-time. Compared to what my actual full-time job is like, and depending on the semester.

I thought that the five-year thing was crazy, too. I've been VAPping for (what feels like) a long time, but I don't have five years full-time teaching experience yet.

Earned

You see that "earned degree" stuff in ads pretty regularly. I'm not sure what to make of it; you wouldn't think you'd need to be specific that an honorary degree doesn't qualify a person for a college-level teaching position. And I guess I thought that honorary doctorates were not normally literal Ph.D.s at all. For example, Bill Cosby has a bunch of honorary doctorates, but almost all of them are "Doctor of Humane Letters." And I have trouble believing that anyone accomplished enough to have been awarded an honorary degree would apply for a 4-4 non-tenure track one-year position at UNT.

My best guess is that it's used as a verb, not an adjective. I suspect that it means that you have to have earned your degree before you start. Same as saying, "degree in hand" or whatever. Although I would say that this interpretation is grammatically underdetermined.

I think second guessing ads is in general relatively fruitless.

I sort of agree, but it's still fun to speculate/make fun. And this seems like an awful lot to ask for in a 1-year position.

Christopher Hitchcock said...

Zombie said:

I like the part about "earned PhD" too.

I got my PhD on a fielding error.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, UNT has a pretty good music department, especially jazz. I assume this makes for a pretty good music scene in Denton. (Didn't Norah Jones go to UNT briefly?)

Anonymous said...

I think "earned" is just an awkward way of saying they won't consider ABDs.

Anonymous said...

Can I second Filosofer's bewilderment regarding the job ad for St. Mary's University (TX)?

"AOS: Early Modern Philosophy (Hobbes to Kant). AOC: Open, though the department has needs in the History of Philosophy, Late Modern Philosophy, and Ethics. A working familiarity with the critical realism of Bernard Lonergan is essential for participation in the department's mission."

[Posted on Chronicle of Higher Ed (http://chronicle.com/jobs/0000713919-01)]

Are we taking crazy pills?

Big D said...

Denton also has a famous death metal scene - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IsXKMkDAMQ

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any insight about why new job postings for positions already listed as having made offer, invited for interviews, etc. Even if those particular candidates didn't work out, surely they have a plethora of applicants on hand to draw from.

The positions of interest are University of Denver and two University of Utah Valley positions. Strangely, they all re-list just about same time that there is a significant update on Phylo.

I don't want to waste time applying for places if they're just trying to get some required data for affirmative action or whatever it is.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the UD job, but I emailed the chair of Utah Valley and he confirmed that the ads were for the job for which I had already applied. He said HR was a bit behind regarding placement of the ad.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall that Lonergan (whose work I am woefully ignorant of) is a big deal in some Catholic circles. The ad. may not be so bizzare w/respect to a given constituency.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but the Utah ads just published were completely different from those published earlier. AOCs were omitted from at least one of them, which would have made all the different as to whether or not I applied. Someone dropped the ball on this one.

Anonymous said...

St. Mary's was hiring someone last year (or maybe the year before) in medieval and it listed the same requirement for a familiarity with Lonergan. It seems to be an institutionalized requirement. I wonder how stringently that requirement is kept.

There is an interesting issue lurking in the background of how to advance a given thinker's approach. Institutionalizing it is one way. I remember talking to a couple of Continental folks who were convinced of the intrinsic superiority of Jaspers over Heidegger. When accounting for the far more extensive research into the latter over the former, the response was a shrug with 'his students were better at getting jobs and thus getting him into the curriculum.' Doubtless that would not satisfy all - but it, along with this Lonergan requirement and other such mandates - make me think about the practice of institutionalizing different approaches to philosophy in order to propagate it. There's an interesting question here of whether/how to institutionalize philosophy, which all of us trying to get jobs at universities seem to be in some sense committed to.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:42 I would read any ad stipulating knowledge of Lonergan to mean, "you'd better be Catholic because we don't want atheists stirring up shit in our department."
I suspect it's akin to asking someone if they're a friend of Bill.

Anonymous said...

I would read any ad stipulating knowledge of Lonergan to mean, "you'd better be Catholic because we don't want atheists stirring up shit in our department."

That's nonsense. I'm a Catholic and know nothing about Lonergan, and would have no shot at getting a job in such a department. And even if it's true that in fact those who know Lonergan are overwhelmingly Catholic, that's not the point of the criterion; they'd consider non-Catholics who had the expertise, too.

Anonymous said...

Big D: Thank -God-. I was going to be very upset if nobody linked to that in 27 comments.

The song's sentiments seem very appropriate to this blog, come to think of it.

Anonymous said...

I found one that's even worse. You're required to submit:

"student evaluations from the last year (at least six classes, an even mix of graduate and undergraduate)"

That means they expect you to have taught at least three undergraduate courses and at least three graduate courses IN THE PAST YEAR. How many people even at R1 institutions end up with three graduate courses in a year. It's usually one, sometimes two if you're lucky. Maybe if you only teach grad courses.

What kind of person with a job like that would be eager to move to a small Catholic school with a 4/4 teaching load that as far as I can tell has no graduate program in philosophy at all? I'd probably jump at a job like that, but I'm not sure people who can provide what they ask for would.

Anonymous said...

Sooo....where's the thread where we talk about how long we wait before leaving the profession? Two years? Three? Four? I'm at the end of my rope here.

Anonymous said...

Dear philosophy departments:

If you would like a job candidate to book their own travel for a flyout, please tell her so explicitly. Often we're expecting to be contacted regarding travel, and the last-minute scramble to book flights isn't fun.

Thank you,
job seeker

Anonymous said...

There's a new one on higher ed jobs from Bemidji State U, which is a 3/3, with advising, research expectations, and departmental service--and it's listed as an ADJUNCT position.