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2007-05-18 - 11:58 a.m. I really a New Yorker or just not a Vancouverite?...

We've spent this week interviewing candidates to replace the former chair of my department. Our interview process is kind of intense, both for the candidate and for the search committee.

The interview lasts two days and involves both a research and a simulated classroom lecture, and about four separate Q&A periods with each candidates. On the first day, the search committee spends six hours non-stop with the candidate. Some spend even more. Given that the candidates are not in my field (and are actually in a field that rather bores me, I'm embarrassed to say), it has been quite a challenge for me to maintain interest. Each day I've come home exhausted, and I'm not even the person delivering the lectures or being questioned.

Perhaps it is the fatigue but the experience has left me rather depressed, and feeling as though I really don't fit in with this department at all. I think this has come out of several factors.

The first is that I'm just not integrated, even through this search committee process I've felt like a frog in a fish pond. I've harped on the sense before that I've been left out of the department loop for the past year. I just yesterday found out about another department mailing list that they "forgot" to add me to, so that I've not been informed of certain meetings that I might be interested in attending. Sigh. I still feel like an accessory.

The second reason is that my research just doesn't seem to fit in here, and I do feel that it isn't valued. I do think that it is valued within the context of my field, but the people in this department just don't see a use for it. Because of the integration issue above, my development into directions that would actually benefit the department has stagnated. I'm not collaborating, and I don't see ways in which collaboration will develop.

The third reason is that I am consistently frustrated by the absence of my colleagues on campus, even for something as important as an candidate interview. Less than one third of the faculty have shown up for the interview talks. I personally think that if my department were interviewing a potential colleague that I would have to live with for the next twenty years, I would want to check that person out. I find it amazing that there appears to be no interest. Amazed. It saddens me, and just brings home the extent of the first two reasons.

A final reason fell into place over dinner last night. The conversation was about mountain biking, hang gliding, and fish and wildlife. All of these are kind of interesting topics. Kind of. But you know, I sat there thinking about what I would like to talk about...very different. Music, museums, plays, theater, books, traveling, social behavior, even politics... I just don't seem to click with people out here. I'm into recreation and lifestyle, but I like other things.

I thought back to our candidate dinners in NYC. Even when the horrid chair came to dinner, the topics were wide-ranging. Here it felt monotonous and repetitive. I'm nearing the end of the one-year litmus test, and I don't think that I should still be this far afield...

On that note, I'm going to go down the hall to see if I can grab lunch with a fellow faculty member (if any of them are left in town...)

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