2007-03-08 - 10:08 a.m.
..dutchess drama - 2nd entry.....
I'm still in fairly regular contact with my favorite colleagues from Dutchess, and so I still hear much of the ongoing trials and tribulations of the place. This week was no exception, when they concluded the process of hiring my replacement.
Yesterday, when my cold was at its worst, I got an email from the *new* department chair (who is a friend of mine, and who seems to be whipping the department into shape). She clearly had a preferred candidate, and I wasn't at all surprised to hear it was (a former officemate of mine, in fact. isn't it a small world...) The conflict occurred because *another* favorite colleague of mine preferred a *different* candidate. Anyway, the new chair wrote to me, because she was concerned about how to proceed. How do you win a majority of support for *your* preferred candidate while still keeping your friends - and the department - from dividing into petty factions?
This has been a chronic problem with this department in the past. Candidates were frequently chosen based on bizarre criteria: "we have enough people from university x;" "we have enough women;" "sure s/he's a good researcher, but s/he'll just leave;" "won't be able to teach course z" "we have enough chemistry people;" These criteria were always extremely bizarre to me (especially the last one, because I was considered a 'chemist' in that argument). Anyway, each search (and I went through three in my two years there) ended with one group of the faculty arguing that the choice meant the doom of the department.
Like many things at Dutchess, last year's search nearly ended in blows - and probably did cause a permanent severing of ties between certain members of the department.
Similar issues threatened to come up again this year. And somehow I thought that I wouldn't have to be involved, you know, given that I live 3000 miles away and am no longer a member of the department (!!!). I was actually asked to call up a member of the department and talk to him, to convince him that he was wrong. I balked at that, arguing that I haven't had the chance to evaluate the applications. I did make a few recommendations, though.
In the end, it sounds as though they have agreed on a good candidate. Too bad I was never meant to work with that person (as s/he was my replacement...).
So now that I've arrived at Mountain U, I've immediately been placed on a search committee. I'll be curious to see how this proceeds in this completely different environment.
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...they are just words, Suzi... - 2011-08-29