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Archive for March, 2012

Structural Problems with the Search Committee Process

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by academickeys No Comments

Higher education search committees can make the search less cumbersome for some or more burdensome for others when hiring a new president or professor. An ideal search committee is made up of members from the faculty and students. The number of members depends on the size of the university, the department and the position vacancy.

Depending on the institution, a professor’s class schedule, time used in preparation for teaching, research, publication and administrative duties can dominate their schedule and detract from the committee’s true purpose. The search committee becomes a source of resentment for professors preventing them from concentrating on tasks that further their personal interests and the interests of the university.  This leads to short cuts in the search. The shortcuts may include skimming through resumes, handing them to assistants to read through or tossing them up in the air and picking the ones that land on top. Additional short cuts may be taken when conducting background checks, talking with references and not adequately preparing for the interview.

To further complicate the professor’s time constraints applicants may provide more information and materials then requested. Although this might be easy to disseminate and withdraw that application packet, it also takes time to distinguish which applicant followed the instructions for applying and which did not.

Divided interests can distract the members from focusing on the needed end result. If a member is invited to be on the committee but doesn’t have an interest in the new hire then an attitude of “this is not my problem” may occur resulting in a lethargic member. If a committee member will be working directly with the new hire they may try to put off the process due to fear of change or an uncertain future.

A common problem within search committee’s is the dominance of one or two members. A committee chair that is only interested in promoting his or her interests will not encourage the group to work for the best interest of the university and its students. At the same time a member who may have a personal agenda concerning the vacancy may sabotage the efforts of the committee.  Personal power struggles lead to intimidation, repercussions for disagreements, lack of opportunity to speak freely and general chaos within the group. A search committee that has a hard time working together will have a harder time finding an appropriate candidate to fill position.

The final decision can be made by the committee chair abusing their authority and making the decision without the input of the committee. If everyone is getting along and working well together it will come down to a group agreement. However, if one or two people are looking out for their own interest a decision may be made that will result in another search committee looking again for a suitable candidate.

Hard Work and the Successful Job

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by academickeys No Comments

If you go to Google today and search in the news section for ‘Higher Education’, chances are you will see an article on the first page regarding the costs of higher education. Higher Education is something that drives each country toward success. The theory is that if you work hard, you will get into a good school, if you work hard in school you will get a good job, if you get a good job you will be successful. Several recent factors have worked to debunk this theory, between the economic downfall of the past couple of years and rising tuition costs, the theory might not hold true anymore.

It is known that we are in tough economic times. As the U.S. presidential election nears, the main topics for the republican candidates continue to be jobs and the economy. Europe is faced with many issues as countries like Greece continue to go deeper into debt. This does not bode well for students either entering a higher education program or exiting one. For those exiting, the job market is a slim one with plenty of competition. If you have excellent marks and scores, there are likely four or five other applications just like you, who have also worked hard to get where they are. For those entering higher education, the cost of tuition, books, room and board, becomes a burden to bear on the student.

Even with difficult economic times, the cost of tuition continues to go up. The cost of both public and private universities has risen and will most likely continue to rise. This puts a strain on the family’s income and/or the amount of debt that the student will be in once they graduate from school. Starting out with debt is a difficult thing, especially with the competition in the job market. The pressure to find a high paying job to relieve this debt and survive is very real. There are ways to supplement the rising cost of tuition. Financial aid, scholarships, and Government assistance will help students obtain a higher education so they can achieve success, but is it enough?

The rising tuition costs, as well as the difficulty in finding a well-paying job, make the higher education landscape a difficult one.  Is hard work and determination enough or have these external factors put a hindrance on our road success?


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