Thursday, March 02, 2006

My century post

This post makes my 100th for this blog. Does that make me a full initiate?

Here's something I wanted to share. A little while ago, I remarked that I wanted to contact a few departments who chose not to interview me, but whose rejection letters were positive, to ask about possibly giving a colloquium talk of my research.

Last week, I posted my most courtesy rejection letter to date.

Below is my recent email to the chair of that committee, and his response (a day later) interpolated as comments. It doesn't yet amount to an invitation, but it's positive feedback nonetheless, and gives a sense of acceptance and respect. It's nice to pretend that we are immune to the opinions of others, but then I'm no starving misunderstood artist. If I don't have an audence for my work, then the onus is on me to create one, or to somehow reach the one that is there.

Dear Professor [LastName],

Thank you for your kind note of
[Date], regarding the status of the [Specialization] faculty search at [UniversityName]. I do not envy search committees their task of weeding through a mass of highly qualified applicants to select the one or two to be offered positions. Your letter was courteous and respectful, and for that much appreciated.

It's really very kind of you to say so.

I know that many [Field] departments these days hold a regular lecture series, or research colloquium for faculty and graduate students, which serve as appropriate venues for the presentation of new ideas. I would like to inquire as to the possibility to present my work to your department in this way.

In fact, we do have such a series [...]
This year, we knew we'd be asking candidates to speak at interviews, and rather than stretch the audience for lectures (our students) too thin, we decided not to have any regular speakers in [Specialization] or [CloselyRelatedSpecialization].

Please let me know if such an opportunity could be arranged. Depending upon the interests of your department, I could prepare a talk either on
[FocusOfDissertation], or on [Field1] & [Field2] studies more broadly. To get a better sense of what I propose, I attach a recent article of mine, currently under consideration. I would be happy to discuss options and details with you at your convenience.

Thanks very much for your interest. [OtherProf] and I are both members of the lecture committee, along with a faculty member in [OtherSpecialization], and we'll certainly keep you in mind.

Thank you again for your time and courtesy,

You're welcome, and thank you.

All best wishes,



BrightStar said...

What's your reaction to this? I think it's quite a fair response. I do find that too many lectures / colloquia result in low attendance, so it's considerate of them not to bring in too many people. I hope you felt okay with the faculty member's reply.

And, yes, 100 posts makes you a full initiate. :)

ArticulateDad said...

Apropos B* comments:

Yes, absolutely. The courtesy of any response would be welcome. In fact, this is the second such inquiry I've sent out. The first one, to another school, a couple weeks ago, hasn't gotten any response.

The bits I ellipsed from his letter had to do with their funding for the lecture series, and other ongoing changes that impact whether or not the series will continue next year. Sounds like they've filled the schedule for this academic year, but that they're not averse to having me come talk next year.

I'm pleased with that. The few colloquia talks I've given have been abundantly enjoyable. It's a wonderful chance to test out new ideas with new audiences, and build up one's network of professional contacts.

BrightStar said...

I'm glad that they replied at all, you're right, that's a good thing. Funding for these colloquia series is an issue everywhere, but they would be smart to keep you in mind, as good speakers whose interests align with the department's are not always easy to find!