Tuesday, October 29, 2013
You Make the Call!
No mention of whether this person is a good teacher.
So, yes, an actual search is called for. In fact, this situation sounds EXACTLY why a search is called for, to prevent favoritism and insular hiring not based on actually doing the core of the job.
However, given the number of well-qualified, long-serving adjuncts (and the incredible waste of resources by all involved occasioned by national searches that end up hiring internal candidates), perhaps there needs to be a formal promotion-review process that can be invoked in such situations? Then the discussion would take place on the level of which process was most appropriate to use given the situation (internal promotion process if familiarity with the institution and student population are major plusses, national search if new ideas/up-to-the-minute expertise are most needed).
A compromise position might be an internal search, which would give the other adjuncts a chance, and involve some degree of competition/picking the best person for the job out of a number of candidates, but/and would also recognize the value of someone with familiarity/a proven record with the institution, the student body, etc. Internal searches are not uncommon, at least at my institution, at the administrative level; why not use the same tactic when adding to the full-time faculty?
Of course you do the search.
If Super Adjunct is that good, the odds of earning the job offer will not drop just because the search is fair and open. Further, Super Adjunct should be happy that ze doesn't owe anyone any allegiance for simply getting the job. However, if there is an even better Super Premium Adjunct at a neighboring college that you don't know about, the search will make your job pleasantly more difficult.
A regional search must go a long way in your area.
But I have no experience hiring, and absolutely no familiarity with the rules surrounding all this at colleges. Maybe the unwillingness in earlier comments to simply grant the adjunct's admin-assessed superiority as part of the hypothetical comes from exactly the experience I lack.
The chair has probably been motivating adjuncts by suggesting that if they do well and pay their dues, then they'll be owed tenure-track jobs (subject to availability). If so, then the chair is already behaving unethically, quite aside from this search, because adjunct positions just aren't trial faculty positions. The chair might wish they were, but he/she is in no position to make such promises. Empty promises are just a form of manipulation.
So the real question, as I see it, is whether the department needs a new chair.
Sometimes people in other sectors get promotions even if there's the possibility that an outside candidate might be even better. It's recognized that you need to balance recruitment of the best with retention of the very good. Otherwise morale will suffer and turnover will create its own problems.
People with a long track record of strong performance should have a path to better opportunities.
So why not put her on the tenure track and see how it works out.
Occasional direct internal hires do not strike me as particularly problematic. A formal process would be good, so that it rewards good work rather than only internal connections.
Full time positions are jobs, not prizes in some kind of contest. The goal is to fill them with competent people as efficiently as possible, not to award golden-tickets, Charlie and the Chocolate factory style, to deserving heroes plucked from obscurity.
On another note, the harm done from a national search where you just collect applications is minimal. If you go through the trouble of interviewing people who have barely a snowball's chance in Miami, I think that's excessive.
Full disclosure: I recently applied for a job that I got interviewed for but did not get. I'm now in the process of applying for a *different* job, with the exact same group, that was posted specifically with me in mind. I'm hoping I don't jinx it.
It is entirely possible that the first job was *also* posted with somebody in particular in mind, but they got me and decided to roll with it.
Why would faculty hiring have to be that different? Unless your shop requires an open search for every position regardless of the waste of time and internal options.
Assuming there is no documented required answer and no consistent unofficial answer I assume there would be freedom to take either approach. If this is a Tenure-track position then for the benefit of the school it needs to be an open search with a serious intent to hire the best candidate possible - you're talking about a decision that could define the program for 30-40 years. If it's a non-Tenure-track position there's a good argument for hiring the existing adjunct in that it's a low-cost, high-speed solution that solves the existing need and if the person does not work out they can be replaced later.
In either case, the Program Chair needs to be terminated as soon as possible as they are unquestionably working against the school's best interests. Bypassing HR to create policy, making promises the school might not be legally able to honor, etc., might be personally convenient but create significant problems and hostility for everyone else.
One of them reminded me that we will hire into a full time non-tenure (but potentially multi-year renewable) position without an open search, although it would always meet the State's minimum advertising requirements.
Another comment reminded me that the CC context is crucial. Universities in my area will routinely hire into tenure-track or tenured positions without a search when they wish to do so.
But in a world of constrained resources, you have critics who are wondering why you can't ever seem to get stuff done. The fact you would even ask this question proves their point. In a world that values efficiency and rewards demonstrated competence and service, you make the hire and move on. Quickly, and without handwringing.
It all depends upon which world you live in.
Letter of the law: Met
Intent of the department: Met
Personally I agree with the commenter who said past performance is a better indicator than most hiring tests. On the other hand, this was at a rural university, where we often made offers to external candidates who declined due to our (rather desolate) location. And many, many TT candidates we hired from big cities would leave within the first year or two. Finding someone who is great at the job AND actually wants to live in the area was a rare golden opportunity.
It's worked very well for us recently and seems to have been fairly applied.
Promoting the idea that adjuncting long enough will get you a tenure-track position perpetuates the use of adjuncts in a system that lacks the money to pay FT faculty. The department approach provides false hope to SuperAdjuncts; ultimately, the budget determines how much hope there is of a tenure-track hire. While a national search is certainly sad in light of SuperAdjunct and GoodAdjunct's strong performances, picking favourites from amongst adjunct is a far more harmful way to go.
So the chair has a favourite. That raises a red flag to me…
I've worked in places that hired like this. The people hired were not good colleagues, but they were good henchmen for the department head.
So I'd opt for a search, and make certain that the search committee really does consider all applicants, rather than being pressured into voting for the chair's favourite.
I agree with the comment "If Super-Adjunct compares favorably with the existing permanent instructors (including teaching-wise), and they presumably were hired through some painstakingly official process, why trust the process to beat its own average?"
I'd be surprised. The procedure to hire a adjunct is much less rigorous than to hire a full-time employee, at least in any college I've worked for. The person will only be around for a semester (at least, that is the presumption built into the hiring process) and often isn't the best person for the job — they were the the best person available on short notice, who was willing to take a short-term contract.
In the example given, we have someone who is apparently doing a good job (or at least impressing the department chair, which often isn't the same thing). But they may not be the best person. If the college was to do a wider search, a much better candidate might well emerge.
And if the department head is determined to hire the internal candidate, no matter who else applies, then they clearly aren't suited to be the head.
SamChevre--same as 10:19 anonymous
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