Hiring professors ain’t easy

I mentioned in an earlier post that I work at a university.  I am an assistant professor on tenure track.  That means I have a six-year window to meet the requirements the university sets, and then, theoretically, I am granted tenure. I am just wrapping up my second year on tenure track.  Tenure is essentially a job for life.  Once you’ve got it, it’s almost impossible to lose it.

Sometimes, academic departments have particular openings that are filled by people who receive tenure as part of their employment package.  This often happens if someone is hired as a department chair.  Sometimes it happens if the candidate is perceived to elevate the prestige of the department, by adding a nationally-known name to the faculty, or bringing a slew of books and refereed publications that would raise the research dimension of the department.

My department has two openings in the same academic sequence.  We brought four finalists to campus for interviews.  The top candidate was very impressive, but there was a wrinkle.  His wife was also one of the finalists.  But the faculty was unimpressed with the wife.  In order to get him, they actually considered hiring her.  But then he demanded that they both come aboard with tenure.  While the faculty would have been willing to grant it to him, there was no way she would get it.  The couple withdrew from consideration.  Now, we’re faced with bringing back two adjuncts for the coming year, which will again hinder our efforts to raise the profile of that sequence.

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