Hiring new colleagues is a matter that engages individual faculty members intensely, for peer control of admission to the professoriate has been a highly successful source of academic quality in American higher education. “Super Stars and Rookies of the Year” analyzes the fixation on research acclaim as a negative version of academic hiring practices which has become embedded within the academic psyche. This fixation tends to be aroused by the rituals of recruitment and retention that take place on all campuses. But when recruitment becomes an exercise in what some economists have called “the-winner-take-all” mentality of our culture, departments, and programs can become unhealthy environments. When faculty and administrations insist on the extremely volatile criteria of early promise or current fame in choosing new colleagues, their efforts to build a community of scholars can become an exercise in professional pathology. When they neglect excellent current members of their departments to recruit outsiders at higher pay and richer benefits, they risk alienating their own excellent faculties. The antidote is a wise consideration of the total identity and mission of institutional departments in all recruitment efforts.
August 1, 2005
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
Burgan, M. (2005). Superstars and Rookies of the Year: Faculty Hiring Practices in the Postmodern Age. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.