Friday, December 08, 2006

Some words of...


Yesterday, I spent about 20 minutes or so on the phone with an older colleague, Pam Bridgeport, whom I've known for about 8 years, who teaches at the remote campus for a big name university in my old hometown. Three years ago, when I was overseas, and still writing my dissertation, a position at her school was one of the first I applied to (that year, I applied to a mere handful). She has always been supportive of me and my research (she served on a conference panel I organized about five years ago). But she had rather discouraged me from applying then, saying it really wasn't a place for me.

A new post is open at her school this year. Same story. To hear her tell it, only circumstance (her husband is also an academic on their main campus) has kept her there. The teaching load is moderately heavy (3-4 classes per term), the payscale low. There is no rank or tenure at that location. The courses are rather entrenched traditional. She said she's somewhat lucky since she's the only one teaching [subfield 3], which gives her more freedom.
No one knows what I'm talking about anyway, so I can teach it however I like. But for [subfield 1] they'd want to know that you can teach [Field] 1, 2, 3, 4 over and over. You'd have to love teaching. I mean love love teaching. You'd never have time for research, and it wouldn't be institutionally supported. I'm thinking of retiring so I can get back to it.
Okay, I get it. Back again to square one. What do I want? Honestly: teaching and research, fairly balanced, inquisitive minds, a supportive administration. I've applied to about 15 jobs this year. Yesterday, the Rocket Scientist and I ruled out two more schools in a state where we don't really want to live, which offer few opportunities for her. Done. But once I rule out one or two, then a third (Pam's school), it's easy to keep ruling them out.

There's another one nearer to our current location. But it's not an ideal school, also with a heavy teaching load (20 semester credits per year). I spent some time on the phone yesterday with the committee chair. I had sent him an inquiry for more information on the post, along with my CV. He responded shortly, saying he'd looked over my CV, and he'd encourage me to apply. It wouldn't necessarily be my first pick. But I'm not that picky. But, seven courses a year, at a middling school, and 100 miles from my wife's closest opportunities... You see my dilemma.

Add to that the odd feeling "any club that'd have me, I wouldn't want to join" and I'm paralyzed.
Dear Articulate,

The University of Western-Flagship [Field 1 department] is narrowing the applicant pool in our search for an Assistant Professor of [subfield 1]. At this point, we would like to read a sample of your research. We ask that you send us electronically an example, such as an article or two chapters from your dissertation. Please send whatever you think best demonstrates your abilities for [subfield 1] research.

Thank you, and we look forward to reviewing your materials.

Sincerely yours,

Joe Wilbert

Well, of course I sent them my dissertation distillation article. Don't worry, I'm not really professionally suicidal, even when I'm unsure about which way to head. But no high hopes yet. This is very preliminary. I'm not even assured a campus interview. But nibbles are nice.


Nik said...

Congrats. In this market, requests for supplemental materials are rewarding in and of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, yeah, nibbles. That's what my MLA interview is, a nibble. But with only three applications, I'm really happy at this point.