Career Lingo: ‘We Will Begin Reviewing Applications …



Image: Men reading the newspaperNanjing, China, by Stougard

Job ads in academe often use the same hiring jargon even while the disciplines, institutions, and positions vary widely. The language may be standard but its meaning is anything but. Culture and circumstance govern how each word and phrase is applied.

So far in this series we have examined the nuances of the following career lingo found in job ads: “degree completed by,” “in a related field,” and “required” versus “preferred” qualifications.” Now we turn to another ubiquitous phrase that can mean different things to different committees: “applications will begin to be reviewed” or “we will begin reviewing applications” on such and such a date.

To begin, what does “begin” mean here? Years ago, when I first saw the phrase in a job ad, I imagined the members of the search committee sitting down on a certain date — the morning of the “begin” date — and gazing upon a huge pile of thick, unopened manila envelopes. The chair would proclaim, “Let us begin!” Then everyone would pull out letter openers and start opening packages. [Read more…]

Don’t Fear Fund Raising, Part 5

Don’t Fear Fund Raising, Part 5


How to be a good steward once the gift has been given.

Careers Fundraisers Stewardess

San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive / Wikimedia Commons

When department chairs, directors, deans, and others embark on academic fund raising for the first time, they naturally focus on “the ask”—that is, on getting the gift. Equally important, however, is the long tail of fund raising: the stewardship of gifts.

There’s a lot to absorb about how you satisfy the many legal, ethical, and procedural requirements of a donation, oversee the munificence over time, and keep donors (or their heirs or trustees) apprised of its progress. And it’s crucial that you do learn because:

  • It’s your job. You, as lead academic officer of your department or college, hold the legal and fiduciary obligation to steward gifts responsibly.
  • It’s the ethical thing to do since the gift is in your charge.
  • For some donors, an initial donation may be a “test gift.” Handle it well, and more will very likely come your way.
  • Your reputation as a good steward will help you become more successful in fund raising in the long run. [Read more…]

Career Lingo: ‘In Related Field.’



Image: “Rapala lures 1,” by Fanny Schertzer

Context and audience matter in understanding a foreign language. The same is true of academia’s “career lingo.” Comprehending the nuances of job-market terms can help you with your application materials, presentations, and interviews — indeed, with every aspect of your candidacy.

So far in this series we’ve defined “required” versus “preferred” qualifications and the meaning of “degree completed by.” Now we turn to a phrase seen in many a job advertisement: “in related field” (or “related discipline”). For example, an ad might state that a position requires candidates to have a “Ph.D. in Geology or in related field.”

Seems pretty straightforward, right? But as usual the words and descriptions used in job ads often have variants and complexities that need unpacking.

First off, this particular phrase in an ad does not mean: “We don’t care what field your Ph.D. is in.” Neither does it mean: “All disciplines are pretty much the same to us; anyone with any terminal degree is welcome.” [Read more…]

Career Lingo: ‘Degree Completed by …’


[Read more…]

Avoiding PTDS: Post-Tenure Depression Syndrome

Avoiding PTDS: Post-Tenure Depression Syndrome


Why are the years after academics have ‘made it’ so gloomy for so many?

Iknow about two dozen academics who were tenured and promoted to associate professor last year. They traverse the spectrum of the academy, from engineers to language scholars to sociologists. They work at community colleges, research universities, and small liberal-arts colleges. They range in personality type from the quiet and studious to the brash and outspoken.

None of them are visibly happy.

I mean the kind of career-related elation thatwe’re familiar with in popular culture and in the lives of nonacademics: the giddy joy of football players doing back flips and high fives after winning a big game or, more equivalently, the champagne-popping business professional who has just gotten a major promotion. In contrast, most of the new associate professors I know were so low-key about their promotions that I found out only via a title change on their email or a Facebook status update (as in, “Hey Guys, got tenure, so now you are stuck with me. Haha.”) [Read more…]

Don’t Kill the Conference Interview



Image: Tommy Kirk as Travis Coates in Old Yeller (1957), directed by Robert Stevenson

Rebecca Schuman recently called for the death of the conference interview for faculty jobs. A key reason she listed was the expense, citing the Modern Language Association’s recent convention in Vancouver as a case in point. In fact, she went to considerable length to prove that anyone traveling to Vancouver for the meeting would need to spend more than $1,000.

Case closed — on Vancouver and MLA. But a data point is not a universal. Many faculty members with full-time jobs and many graduate students seeking employment still think the conference interview is a useful enterprise.

First, academia is not a monolith. A Ph.D. holder in German (Schuman’s field) might view the job market as a Kesselschlacht (a confused cauldron battle). But my own area of communications is in the fifth year of a boom in tenure-track hiring. We get only 20 to 40 applicants for assistant-professor posts and compete heavily for the best prospects. Anyone we want to hire will likely receive two to three other offers. In other fields, upwards of 500 candidates might apply for a tenure-track opening, and it is a buyer’s market. [Read more…]

Don’t Fear Fund Raising, Part 4

December 1, 2014

Don’t Fear Fund Raising, Part 4

Why it’s important to be pedantic about donor intent

Agift to your department can seem so straightforward, like the first time a donor told me, “I want to endow a scholarship for a student.” Easy enough, I thought. Then a development officer explained that in accepting this seemingly simple gift, we had to satisfy tax laws, foundation rules, departmental mission and priority, and “donor intent.”

That last criterion was the one that needed the most pains­taking definition. What did the donor mean by “student”? An undergraduate, a graduate student, or either? A student already in good standing in our major or a first-year recruit? Could the student be a double major or just minoring in our field? Would requirements include a certain GPA in high school or college? Was there a geographic condition on the gift—that the recipient come from a particular high school or the donor’s home state? Would the scholarship rest on objective academic merit, faculty recommendation, or “need”? How would each of those be defined? [Read more…]

Know the Vital Players in Your Career: Your Own Actions

David D. Perlmutter. “Know the Vital Players in Your Career: Your Own Actions.” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 32, 2014, pp. A36-37.

Know the Vital Players in Your Career: Your Own Actions

Do good, be good, and let others know you are good.

Too many would-be academics never finish their dissertations, never get tenure-track jobs, or never earn tenure—through no fault of their own—to believe that success in higher education simply requires pulling yourself up by your cognitive bootstraps. That said, you can’t always fault bad luck or lousy advisers. Sometimes your own action, or inaction, is to blame.

I’ve spent the past year writing this series about all of the players who can affect your career: the department chair, the head of the P&T committee,the faculty factions, the senior campus administrators, the external evaluators, the university P&T committee, your graduate-school or tenure-track peers, and, most recently, your own attitudes and habits of mind.

Now I want to close this series by making the following case: It’s not enough to know what the other players are up to and to have the right attitudes yourself; you have to do the right things to boost your own odds, whether in graduate school, the job market, the tenure track, or beyond.

Work—intensely, productively, judiciously. It’s no great revelation to say that successful academics tend to be industrious. Almost immediately when you get to graduate school you learn how ludicrous is the stereotype of the professor who churns out a few stale lectures a week and spends his summers fishing at a lake cabin. The graduate students and assistant professors I know routinely put in 60-hour weeks.

But hard work is not always productive work. Sure, intensity of effortcounts when applied to the right project at the right time. The good news is that intensity can come in stops and starts, and it’s healthier for you if it does, allowing you to set aside work now and then and plug in a bit of life and play.

Get it done, correctly and on time. My professor-father’s seemingly prosaic advice, which I tend to repeat because so many people fail to heed it, is: “Get things done in the correct format, by deadline, and you’ll have a huge competitive edge.” Sometimes, like in an Olympic swimming competition, tiny margins can make great differences. I still dolefully recall my involvement with a major, multiuniversity federal grant proposal that got rejected because it was uploaded to the submission website minutes past the midnight deadline. I have seen many other instances in academe—in dissertation research, job applications, and on the tenure track—where small errors made a big difference.

As faculty members we spend a lot of time reviewing other people’s dissertations, manuscripts, articles, and tenure packets. Certainly, we are paying attention primarily to content. But it can sway our verdict to read a poorly copied packet with items missing, confused instructions, or typo-ridden documents. Quality matters, but efficiency and appearance count, too—another seemingly obvious statement that is ignored all too often in academe by people who should know better. [Read more…]

TOP’S TEN 88.1 KTXT: Episode 18

Episode #18 of my radio show TOP’S TEN is up! TOP’S TEN seeks out successful and influential people in politics and government, the many professions, the physical and social sciences, or the arts and humanities and asks them to reveal their lives, ideas and ideals through their playlist. Our format is simple: We ask our guests what pieces of music mean the most to them and to tell us the story behind the infatuation.

Broadcast: 28 September 2014

Guest: Dave Walker, Owner, Walker Communications, KJDL-FM, KJDL-AM


Song List:
1.  Not Fade Away – Buddy Holly
2.  Words Of Love – Buddy Holly
3.  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
4.  Harvest – Neil Young
5.  Helplessly Hoping – CSN&Y
6.  Tusk – Fleetwood Mac
7.  Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? – Waylon Jennings
8.  You’re No Good – Linda Ronstadt
9.  Tracks Of My Tears – Smokey Robinson
10.  With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker

#18 Dave-Walker-2

TOP’S TEN 88.1 KTXT: Episode 17

Episode #17 of my radio show TOP’S TEN is up! TOP’S TEN seeks out successful and influential people in politics and government, the many professions, the physical and social sciences, or the arts and humanities and asks them to reveal their lives, ideas and ideals through their playlist. Our format is simple: We ask our guests what pieces of music mean the most to them and to tell us the story behind the infatuation.

Broadcast: 21 September 2014

Guest: Morris Wilkes, Owner, The Wilkes Company, A Government Relations, Public Affairs and Political Consulting Firm


Song List:
1. If  – David Gates & Bread
2. We’ve Only Just Begun – The Carpenters
3. Precious And Few – Climax
4. You Light Up My Life – Debbie Boone
5. Memories – Elvis Presley
6. Don’t Pull Your Love – Hamilton, Joe, Frank & Reynolds
7. Love Can Make You Happy – Mercy
8. Theme from The Summer of ’42 – Peter Nero
9. Joy To The World – Three Dog Night
10. American Pie – Don McLean

#17 Morris-Wilkes-2