Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Then the Easter Bunny sent this email...

Of course what we have here is a hesaid/she said conflict. Allow me to state emphatically one more time--I never said that I didn't want to hire [a person of a particular nationality]. What possible reason would I have to say that. The fact that Vlad the Impaler keeps repeating this lie tells you more about Vlad the Impaler than about me. Obviously, she will say anything to make herself look good, no matter what damage it does to others. As anyone would be, I am upset that Vlad the Impaler continues to slander to me. She is obviously out to ruin my career and believes that she is powerful enough to do so. As I said before, I will do what is necessary to protect my reputation, which, at this point, has been callously besmirched.

The Easter Bunny
Then Vlad the Impaler sent this email:

To the [Department] Faculty:

I have been asked to respond to the memo the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus sent
you all on March 2, in which some rather astonishing allegations were made
about my role on the Hiring Committee for a new faculty member in
[field of study]. I had hoped not to get into any
back-and-forth with them, and will not respond to anything hereafter, should
they choose to continue to engage this issue. However, I do think that
anyone in the department who is interested deserves to know what happened,
and I would like to present my version of reality in what has come to feel
like an unbelievably Kafkaesque scenario.

First, as I told both of them over and over (and over), I DO NOT know either
Candidate A or Candidate B. The information they found online--about
which they never approached me for any sort of clarification, preferring
instead to leap to conclusions that directly refuted what I had clearly told
them--refers to a workshop at [academic conference] several years ago that Candidate A was scheduled to attend. (She did not attend.) I had come to know of her work
through listserv communications of the committee on which we both were active (solely online, up to that point--the committee never met in person till the year in question). When it turned out she could not attend, she nonetheless sent many wonderful materials for the committee's use. It was this work--that is, her online contributions to the listserv, and the materials she sent--that impressed me. She probably left that credit on her c.v. because she did, in fact, contribute more
significantly than many of those who did attend. (Anyone is welcome to
write to her and ask her; I haven't told her just how insane this whole
episode has become.) Mister Rogers was also at that workshop, and I think
you will find, if you ask himm, that he did not meet Candidate A, either.
(Though of course, Mister Rogers could be in on the conspiracy.)

Because I very much respected her work and knew that she was a recent Ph.D.
in [field of writing], I emailed her to call her attention to our position
and suggest that she might want to apply. (This is entirely customary in
professional circles--I have received several such invitations myself from
colleagues across the country, and I'm sure others in our department have,
too.) She replied that both she and her husband, Candidate B, were
interested (and both were qualified). They subsequently sent me their
c.v.'s so that I could tell them whether they seemed appropriate for the
job, and whether it was worth applying. I was excited about their
c.v.s--they seemed like people who could potentially make a great
contribution to our school and our writing program, on multiple levels--and I
showed them to several people in the department. I asked [the dean] about
joint hires at that time because I wanted to give them a realistic sense of
what they might expect. They decided to apply anyway.

This was near the beginning of our advertising for the position, and we had
yet to see all the other c.v.s, but I was heartened to know that AT LEAST we
had two candidates who were, in my opinion, highly suitable for the job. As
a longterm member of the [departmental program] who is eager to see the program
grow under the aegis of the most talented and committed faculty possible, I
felt that if we found people better than them, fantastic, but at least there
was some reason to be hopeful we would attract SOME appropriate candidates.
As I explained to others here several times, I had been involved in a search
for a new faculty member in [field of study[ at [another institution] the year I was there as a visiting professor, and I had a good sense of what we might expect. Most of the people who applied at [the other institution] were rather dry, technical types (prone to charts, numbers, systems, and the like) who didn't seem as if they'd particularly relate to or fit in with an English department. They were also overwhelmingly (as I said to the department on more than one occasion) white men (with an occasional white woman). The person we ended up hiring there was the ONLY candidate of color I knew about for that position. (He was also, without question, the most qualified candidate who applied, and proved to be a brilliant hire.)

It was clear that nobody else on the hiring commitee in our department was
familiar with the field [under consideration], nor really understood what it was. (This became especially clear in our early discussions, when it was asserted that courses in, say, website design could just as easily be taught by the people in IT. As, subsequently, one of our candidates aptly put it at his interview, that is like saying that because you know how to write letters, you know how to write, and there's no need for writing instruction. IT teaches the technical basics;
professional/technical writing people in our field teach about the
rhetorical and stylistic issues involved in building websites, much as we
teach the rhetorical and stylistic issues involved in writing an essay.)
Though other members of the committee are, presumably, members of the
Conference on College Composition and Communication (the principal
professional organization for teachers of college writing), and are, I have
been told, connected to some of the minority caucuses there, they did not
invite anyone to apply and drew no candidates other than those who applied
to our general advertisements. (I myself forwarded the job announcement to
several of the relevant caucuses of CCCC.)

As one can see from glancing at the English Department Meeting minutes of
a recent meeting, Santa Claus presented, at that meeting, three proposals:

"1. the currently constituted hiring committee should make a concerted
effort to attract and recruit minority candidates, giving these candidates,
all things being equal, a clear preference in regards to hiring;
2. positions in the [subject] concentration should be filled with
candidates who have a terminal degree in composition and rhetoric;
3. a member of the hiring committee should be recused if he or she knows a
candidate as a personal friend."

It subsequently says in the minutes: "After some discussion, the first
motion was withdrawn because it was felt that this is already the stated
goal of the committee (individuals with suggestions for venues through which
to recruit minority candidates were encouraged to contact General George Armstrong Custer, Casper the Friendly Ghost,
and Vlad the Impaler--Captain Kangaroo suggested the College Language Association Journal)."

I was baffled to discover, then, that the ONLY minority candidate we could
identify, one who had the requisite degree and a host of interesting credits
and highly enthusiastic recommendations, was dismissed out of hand by the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Though they contended he was unqualified, they refused to
engage in discussion with the committee about his qualifications. (In fact,
Santa Claus had come to the meeting when we were to discuss the finalists
without even having reviewed their files, and thus did not vote on the final
rankings.) When others (not just myself) expressed strong interest in
Candidate B (and two other candidates), the Easter Bunny, who as chair was poised to record our rankings as a prelude to discussion, simply put down his pen, claimed
the whole process was rigged, and resigned from the committee (as did
Santa Claus).

"Qualifications" are, of course, subjective; that is why vigorous discussion
and democratic procedures are important. It was especially absurd that
discussion of the candidates' qualifications was pre-empted by two committee
members' insistence that their interpretation was the only possible
conclusion one could draw, rather than engaging in the sort of productive
give-and-take--even, if necessary, debate--that any legitimate process

Regarding some of the other allegations in the Easter Bunny's and Santa Claus's memo, I can only strongly say that their version of most events is patently
untrue. The rest of the department can choose to believe what they wish (or
simply disentangle themselves from this whole absurd situation), but I am
completely clear about the veracity of the following:

1. The Easter Bunny said to me on several occasions, "I'm not going to hire some
[person of particular nationality]," and "We don't need [a person of that particular nationality] in this department." He said it twice to me when I first told him about Candidate A and Candidate B, in my office (in fact, I was so flabbergasted that I discussed it with several people over the winter break, trying to make sense of it); he said it at the committee's first meeting; and he said it at the subsequent meeting, when he and Santa Claus resigned. At the committee's first meeting, when he said (with others present), "I'm not going to hire some [person of particular nationality]," I said, "Can I quote you on that?" He replied, with broad sarcasm, "Sure, go ahead--let everybody know that I'm the racist in the department." Afterwards, he came and fished me out of the class I was teaching to say he had changed his mind and put Candidate B back in with the finalists. I did have the impression that he'd realized you can't eliminate candidates with statements like that.

2. I did not, then or ever, call the Easter Bunny a "racist." It's not a term I fling around lightly, at anyone, least of all at the Easter Bunny, who is generally highly aware of and sensitive to issues of race (as I know from innumerable
conversations through the years). I found what he said to be astounding and
utterly perplexing, and extremely out of line, but the word "racist" most
definitely came from him.

3. As soon as I entered the room for the first hiring committee meeting and
we were to begin discussion, the Easter Bunny said, "Vlad the Impaler will recuse herself from discussing Candidate A." When I asked why, I was told, "Because she's
your friend." When I asserted that she was neither my friend nor my
acquaintance, and explained that I had never met her but knew of, and
respected, her work via CCCC committee work (as I have explained here,
above), Santa Claus insisted that I had written on her application folder that
she WAS my friend. I produced the folder in question, where I had written
very clearly that I didn't know her personally but respected her work (for
reasons explained above). Santa Claus pounced on that as, somehow, evidence
that I DID know her. (I'm still not sure what part of "I don't know her
personally" Santa Claus doesn't understand.)

4. It took quite a bit of urging, at that first meeting, to get the Easter Bunny and
Santa Claus to discuss the candidates at all. They argued strongly to simply
cancel the whole search process, either to put it off for next year or to
substitute, instead, an altogether different search for a different
position. (Bear in mind that the entire department convened last fall to
decide, together, what position would we ask for, and after a long, open
discussion, this was the mandate the hiring committee received.) Though
they cited the relatively small pool of applicants and the paucity of
minority candidates, they refused, at first, to even discuss the
applications we DID have (among which were some highly qualified people).
They subsequently put out a memo to the whole department moving that we
scrap this search and instead hire someone in a different area. They
presented this memo as being from "The Hiring Committee," though I had
specifically told the Easter Bunny(when he came to my office to ask me about it before the meeting) that I strongly opposed this move, and Casper the Friendly Ghost and Conan the Barbarian had not even been consulted about it. At the later meeting when we were to discuss the finalists' folders, they again said that we shouldn't be hiring for this position, but rather, for another one altogether. I pointed out
that the time to raise that had been at the meeting last fall, not now,
after we had gone through an entire search process. I do not, in fact,
recall either the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus arguing last fall against hiring a
[subject] specialist.

5. I didn't argue at all for Candidate A. Three of the committee members
had voted "yes" for her to make the first cut, and two (you can guess who)
had voted "no" (the Easter Bunny produced the chart with our responses); after some brief discussion, we settled on seven other finalists. (I did argue against the
summary elimination of Candidate B without any specific reasons given for him [sic] being "unqualified," and yes, I did feel that as our only minority
candidate, and one that seemed very promising to others among us, he should
be considered and dicussed beyond the first cut.)

6. When I called our top three choices to arrange for interviews, I found
that two already had jobs (or offers). I actually spent over an hour on the
phone with one of them--about whom we'd all felt enthusiastic--helping him
to figure out what he wanted to do, and suggesting in various ways that he
still consider [our school]. (He said that he would have loved to come here, had we
only contacted him when all the other schools did, but now it was too late.)
I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone and email with the
finalists we ultimately settled on for campus visits, trying to give them
each every possible advantage in understanding what we were looking for, and
inviting them to call me at home with any questions they had (which they

7. I do agree with the Easter Bunny's and Santa Claus's contention that I wrote on Omidvar's file, "This is the first clearly minority candidate I've come across....."
Given the expressed feelings of the department, and Santa Claus's own motion
(see December minutes, above), this seemed highly in keeping with executing
the wishes of the larger group. I would further add that, to my knowledge,
the English department has never had a full-time faculty member who is
[from a particular part of the world], and that such a faculty member would certainly add to the diversity of our department. (At no point, however, did I even imply that this alone was a reason to hire him, which I do feel would be ridiculous and insulting.) The Easter Bunny said to me several times, "I don't have any students in my classes [of said nationality]." I, however, have had numerous
students [from said global region and religion] in my classes, and I am sure they would be just as happy as anyone else to find their own backgrounds represented among the English department faculty, and are disadvantaged just as much as anyone else by the lack of such representation.

As I said at the very beginning of this letter, I was asked to write a memo
to the department explaining what happened. I should add, in the interest
of full disclosure, that the request was actually to write a "short memo."
The art of the short memo, is alas, something I still haven't quite
mastered, and the responsibility for the voluminous detail here is all mine.
However, as promised, I'm exiting the conversation here, and won't reply to
anything else.

Thanks for your time.

Over and out,
Vlad the Impaler

Friday, March 03, 2006

Then Casper the Friendly Ghost sent out this e-mail...

The committee would like to inform the department that Candidate B, a candidate for the Position, has withdrawn from the search because he has accepted another position.

The committee will be meeting next week to discuss the options.
Then Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny sent out this memo...

To: Faculty
From: Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny
Re: Response to the Memo by the Hiring Committee and Chair
CC: the Dean & the Provost [who, by this point, have to be thinking, "What is wrong with these people?!]

We are writing in response to the memo by the Hiring Committee for Position, co-signed by Chair of the department.

In our memo explaining our resignation, we did not name names or discuss the specifics of the candidate’s qualification. We would like to remain collegial with the committee members; however, in order to respond effectively to the above mentioned memo, we will have to make our statements specific and clear, which will involve naming names.

Let us first establish two facts with which we hope the memo writers would agree: 1.At the meeting with Dean last semester in his office, Vlad the Impaler asked the Dean whether or not the department could hire a couple to fill one line. The Dean gave an indirect but clear negative answer. That happened before the formation of the hiring committee and her reading a single application. 2. General George Armstrong Custer and Conan the Barbarian were not at the first meeting.

At the first committee meeting, in the absence of General George Armstrong Custer & Conan the Barbarian, Vlad the Impaler strenuously argued for both Candidate A and Candidate B, who are assistant professors (Candidate B a visiting Assistant professor) in the English Department at Name of University. The following did NOT happen at that meeting. 1. At no time during the meeting did Vlad the Impaler reveal to the committee that Candidate A & Candidate B are husband and wife. 2. No one at the meeting “asserted that Vlad the Impaler must recuse herself from voting on that candidate [A].” Santa Claus did ask, with good reason, “Is she your friend?” When Vlad the Impaler gave a negative answer, Santa Claus said, “Fine, just checking.” At the second meeting, Santa Claus asked the same question about Candidate A, and when she received the same emphatic denial from Vlad the Impaler--she said she had never met him, talked to him, or knew who he was, Santa Claus responded the same way, “Just checking.” In fact, our suspicion was not confirmed until we checked the candidate’s website after our resignation. We found that Candidate A & Candidate B are husband and wife and that Vlad the Impaler participated with Candidate A in the Workshop Session at the Conference. If you want to see the listing for yourself, please find the Link. We found it curious that Vlad the Impaler never met Candidate A at the same workshop session. Even then we were not certain that her relationship with Candidate A was necessarily one between friends, so in our last memo we wrote that we believe one of the committee members was trying to hire “a candidate who might be an acquaintance or a relative of an acquaintance.”

This is what did happen before and at the first meeting. 1) Both Casper the Friendly Ghost and Santa Claus voiced strong preference for Candidate C, the only candidate whose file received unqualified “yes” votes from all committee members (five at the time). In comparison, Candidate A received three “yes” votes and two ‘no’ votes, and Candidate B received two “yes” votes from Vlad the Impaler and Conan the Barbarian, “maybe/yes” from Casper the Friendly Ghost, “maybe” from the Easter Bunny, and “no” from Santa Claus. Vlad the Impaler not only recorded “yes” for both candidates on their file covers, but also wrote enthusiastic recommendations on each. 2) When the Easter Bunny suggested that Candidate B was weak in qualification according to the job description and that we should strive to hire minority candidates to represent more fairly the ethnic composition of students, Vlad the Impaler immediately and unfairly charged him with “racism.” Because the Easter Bunny, then chair of the committee, was unclear about Candidate B’s affirmative action status and the attendant guidelines, Candidate B’s name was included in the final pool of seven, even though he thought the candidate was poorly qualified. 3) Santa Claus suggested that the pool was too small and that we extend the search further to attract more candidates, particularly minority candidates. That suggestion was rejected and the committee proceeded to review the candidates with her full participation.

As you already know, at the second meeting, Candidate B, who barely made the final seven, was ranked first by the other three committee members: Vlad the Impaler, Conan the Barbarian, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. General George Armstrong Custer ranked him third; the Easter Bunny ranked him last. Santa Claus, due to an unexpected circumstance, was late for the meeting and missed both the vote and the discussion about the candidate.

We judge Candidate B as the weakest candidate of the seven finalists because he has virtually no teaching experience or any publications in the Field or the Experience that the job description stipulates.

In his file, under “Teaching Experience,” the only relevant experience is “English Course A and English Course B” which he was scheduled to teach this semester, Spring 2006. Whether he is actually teaching those courses now needs to be verified by the committee.

Candidate B's professional publications are far fewer than any other candidate who made the final list. He has one conference paper, co-written with two colleagues, published in the proceedings of that conference. He has a chapter accepted by an anthology edited by his wife, Candidate A, and another editor. The anthology, according to Candidate B, will be published in January 2006, although the Publisher lists its publication date as March 2006. He lists three journal articles, yet two of them were published by a student-run magazine, and the other by Non-Academic Magazine. He also lists 16 conference presentations, but none has anything to do with the Field. Equally important, Candidate B has never administrated a Program in said Field, which according to the job description, is a requirement for the position.

Finally, allow us to refute the statement that “none of us argued that the candidate rated highly because he is minority.” Since it is fruitless to pit our words against [those of] the other committee members, we suggest that you read Vlad the Impaler's commentary on Candidate B's file. It starts, “This is the first clearly minority candidate I’ve come across.” Vlad the Impaler, at the very least, repeatedly emphasized Candidate B’s status as a minority candidate.

We strongly urge the department to read the files of the final seven candidates—including the ratings on their folder covers, which document the independent judgment of each committee member before the two committee meetings—and to decide for yourselves the truthfulness of the two versions of the same story.

We regret that we were forced to name names and discuss the contents of a candidate’s file, but we felt it was important to defend ourselves by sharing with the department our recollection of the events discussed in the committee’s memo.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Then Tony the Tiger, another faculty member in the Department, sent this memo...

Subject line: Candidate B

I would like to know the specific reasons why Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny believe that the top-ranked candidate is the least qualified. Is it his publication record? teaching experience? field of specialization? I am not really sure, but then I am not exactly sure what we are looking for in this position. I am also concerned that we are continuing to form hiring committees in which one or more members appear to have a clear preference of a candidate before the process even begins.

Then the Easter Bunny sent another email...

Subject Line: Slanderous Statement


It is an absolute bold face lie that I said anything about the minority candidate's ethnicity at the final committee meeting I attended, where the candidate placed in the top three. Although I did say that I preferred to hire a black or hispanic male at the previous meeting, I didn't even discuss the candidate's ethnicity at the final meeting meeting I attended. I discussed only his inadequate qualifications. The committee is claiming that I made the prejudiced comment at the last hiring committee meeting I attended because neither General George Armstrong Custer nor Conan the Barbarian were at the previous meeting where I did say that I preferred to hire a black or hispanic male because they are woefully underrepresented as teachers in our college. The committee is claiming that I made the hateful comment at the last meeting I attended so that they will have more people to accuse me of the charge. Once again, it's my word againist their word. But I tell you emphatically that they are telling a monstrous lie about me.

the Easter Bunny

Then the Easter Bunny sent out this e-mail...

Subject Line: Vlad the Impaler's Knowledge of Candidate's Wife?"


In the recent Hiring Committee letter to the department, they decided to slander me, perhaps because I am a lone Negro and they think they can say anything they want about me to serve their own purposes. Nonetheless, let me state emphatically that I never said that I did not want an Iranian in the department. Rather, I said that I wanted someone who more fairly represented the students population at our school. As the only non-white male in the department, I certainly do not have anything against other non-white males, Iranians included. I merely told the committee that I believe our faculty should more fairly represent our student population, in particular blacks and hispanics. After all, our country was formed by people seeking fair representation in their society.

As for Vlad the Impaler knowing the minority candidate or his wife, I suspected she might know the candidate's wife because Vlad the Impaler participated with the candidate's wife in the [Workshop Session] at the [Conference], [City], in [Month & Year]. I thought it unlikely that two people would be part of a workshop session at a national conference and never actually meet. The candidate's wife lists the presentation on her web page at her current school, where she graduated. In fact, here is how she lists the presentation:

[Quoted passage lists the workshop and names Vlad the Impaler as one of the participants.]

If you want to see the listing for yourself, please find the link below.


I have seen several black male professor friends of mine falsely accused by colleagues of saying things in order to destroy their careers. The committee is trying to destroy my career through their viscious [sic] lie. I might be a lone Negro, but I won't go quietly without a fight. I never said that I didn't want an Iranian in the department. Of course, it is my word against their word, but, unfortunately, it is all a lone Negro has.

the Easter Bunny

So then the Hiring Committee sent out this response to the "clarification" sent out by Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny...

TO: English Department Faculty
FROM: The Hiring Committee - Position (Casper the Friendly Ghost, Conan the Barbarian, General George Armstrong Custer, and Vlad the Impaler)
SUBJECT: Response to the letter of resignation submitted by Sanata Claus the the Easter Bunny
CC: the Dean & the Provost [don't they have better things to do than read this crap?]

As you know, the hiring committee is moving forward with plans to hire a faculty member in Specialty, a position discussed and voted on by faculty at a department meeting last Spring. We hope that you will all join us in welcoming the candidates to campus in the next two weeks.

At this time, we write to assure the department that protocol has been followed throughout the hiring process and to clarify the committee's perspective on allegations raised by Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny in their letter of resignation from this hiring committee.

1) Though the pool of applicants is small (twenty-one), the committee was able to select a group of seven qualified finalists at our first meeting. At the first meeting, however, three key issues arose:

a) Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny believed one of the candidates to be a personal friend of Vlad the Impaler's, and thus asserted that Vlad must recuse herself from voting on that candidate. Vlad the Impaler explained several times that she knows of this candidate's work through Conference committees but has met neither her nor her husband (who also applied for the position and who is the minority candidate/finalist in question) personally. In addition, Vlad the Impaler explained that she had originally suggested, via email, to the female candidate that she apply because she seemed like an appropriate candidate with expertise and experience in the field.

b) At the beginning of the meeting, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny suggested that we not spend time looking at the files because the pool of applicants was so small and because there was only one minority candidate. Vlad the Impaler and Casper the Friendly Ghost both argued that we owed it to the department and the applicants to review and discuss their files in a serious manner to determine if anyone seemed appropriate for the position. After reviewing the files, we agreed on seven qualified finalists, and scheduled a meeting for the following week to review and rank the candidates. Clearly, given that we were able to agree on seven candidates for further review indicates the presence of a small, but very qualified, pool of applicants.

c) When we discussed the minority candidate, who is Iranian, the Easter Bunny asserted that he did not want to hire an Iranian, and that we do not need an Iranian in our department.

He had stated this previously to one member of the committee, and he repeated this assertion at our follow-up meeting one week later when this candidate was selected as one of the top three finalists. In our view, this comment was entirely out of line, and as members of this department and of this particular committee, we strongly believe that no one has any right to discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality.

2) Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny suggest in their letter that they resigned because the minority candidate in question is, in their view, the weakest of the seven finalists. They allege that the rest of us rated him highly simply because he is a minority candidate with training in Field. This allegation is absolutely untrue: none of us argued that "the candidate rates highly because he is a minority." He is an impressive candidate, with a Ph.D. in Field. He has taught courses in Subject and has received several teaching awards. He has had direct experience with Activities in the Subject & Subject worlds, and his recommendations are stellar. In addition to the work he does in his own field, he is also a translator of Persian poetry, and he has demonstrated a strong commitment to multicultural education. We believe that he is anything but "poorly qualified," and we invite you all to review his file (as well as the others') and meet him when he comes to campus for an interview on March 8th.

3) The letter from Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny states that they "are opposed to changing the job description to fit one candidate." The original job description was first published in early Fall, and was then altered as per changes suggested by Santa Claus at a department meeting in December. At that time, it was also agreed that the job search would be extended to February 15, 2006. Since that final version of the job description went out, no changes have been made.

4) Finally, their letter states, "We believe that the committee's desire to select a minority candidate is actually a clever ruse to hire a candidate who might be an acquaintance or a relative of an acquaintance of a committee member." See above (#la) for clarification on this point. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have been fully informed that Vlad the Impaler does not personally know either the female candidate (who is not among the seven finalists) or her husband, the minority candidate in question. Such allegations, especially after they have been repeatedly answered, do not serve a constructive purpose in the department.

Though the committee respects the decision of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to resign, we want to assure the department that we have followed protocol and the priorities established by the department from the very beginning of the search, and that we will continue to do so. We will be seeking your input on the finalists who come to campus for interviews, so we encourage you to take the time to review their files, to hear them talk at the luncheons, and to spend time with them while they are visiting our campus.
Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny sent this memo to "clarify" things...

To: English Department Faculty
From: Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny, English Department
Re: Our Resignation from the Hiring Committee

In her email to the department, General George Armstrong Custer announced our resignation from the Hiring Committee for the Position. We feel obliged to explain to the department our abrupt resignation after we had been intensely involved in the initial search and screening process.

We resigned from the hiring committee because a candidate who, in our estimation, is the weakest candidate of the final pool of seven received three first place votes, including a first place vote from a committee member who expressed strong preference for another candidate in a previous meeting. These three committee members have argued that the candidate rates highly because he is a minority (in fact the only minority who applied for the position) and has training in Specialty, even though the candidate is poorly qualified according to the job description.

We, as long time advocates for hiring minority candidates, are opposed to changing the job description to fit one candidate, because we believe it does not serve the best interest of the department or the minority students. We suggested that if hiring a minority candidate supersedes the immediate needs of the department, then the department should revise the job description to one in teaching non-classical Subject in order to attract a larger pool of minority candidates. The suggestion was rejected by the majority of the committee.

It appears that the majority of the committee is more interested in hiring this specific candidate than in hiring a minority candidate. We believe that the committee’s desire to select a minority candidate is actually a clever ruse to hire a candidate who might be an acquaintance or a relative of an acquaintance of a committee member.

We thereby submitted our resignation.

This memo recently came around via e-mail:

To: Department
From: General George Armstrong Custer


I am writing to inform the department that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have resigned from the hiring committee elected to conduct a search for a Subject instructor. Thanks to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the rest of the committee for their hard work so far. Even given the small pool of applicants (20 or so), the commitee was able to narrow the field to a group of strong candidates. The remaining members of the committee (Conan the Barbarian, Vlad the Impaler, and Casper the Friendly Ghost) are contacting these candidates to see if they are still available and to arrange on-campus interviews for them.

Even though the committee can continue to function with the three remaining elected members (plus the Chair of the department), I would like to ask if any faculty members would like to volunteer to fill the vacated spots. The work that remains is to arrange the on-campus visits and to decide wheter or not we would like to hire one of the candidates we interview. If ther are more than two volunteers, we will hold an election.

In any case, this is the point in the search process when it becomes crucial for the entire department to participate. Each candidate will be interviewed and observed teaching by the search committee; after the formal interview, any interested facyulty members, graduate students, and English majors will be invited to an informal talk, preferably over lunch or refreshments. The committee is currently discussing other ways to involve faculty and students in this process, and if you have any ideas, please let us know.

Thanks very much.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

So someone writes on the faculty listserv:

Is it just me or does John Edwards need to work on his subject-verb agreement?
And someone else writes back:
John Edwards doesn't need to work on subject-verb agreement; nobody but English professors notice it, and there are too few of us to matter. Besides, we're all voting for him anyway.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Overheard outside a tenured professor's office...

One tenured professor was telling another tenured professor about some people he had met. This was his astute observation:
"They're hicks from New Jersey."

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Racism Runs Rampant Even Among Department Filled With Politically-Correct Leftists

A headline in last week's issue of the campus student newspaper reads "Prof. Denied Tenure, Brands Decision Racist."

In the article, the professor in question, Captain Kangaroo, is quoted as saying:
"The decision to deny me tenure...is based on discrimination [...] I think it is appalling that such discrimination and racism is practiced on a campus with 80 to 85 percent black students."
The obviously well-trained student reporter dutifully followed that quote up with reference to the truth:
"In fact, the figure is closer to 50 percent."
How funny is it that Captain Kangaroo claims to have been denied tenure based solely on the basis of race, then so quickly demonstrates her own academic, er, quality by failing to check the very facts upon which she bases her argument? How hard would it have been for a professor to find out what percentage of our students are black, when a student reporter apparently had no problem doing so? Could it be that this mathematical mistake perfectly symbolizes the professor's fitness for lifetime employment as an educator?

Not only that, but what does it say about this professor who sees white racism everywhere she turns, that her perception of the number of black students on campus is so wide of the mark?

There are black students everywhere! Oh, no!

The student reporter is to be commended for correcting the professor's math. And for this sentence:
"Captain Kangaroo did not cite any specific incidents to support her charges."
Apparently our students are learning something about logic and argumentation in their writing classes, which may be more than we can say for the students in Captain Kangaroo's own classes in "African, Asian, and post-colonial literature," in which, according to a student petition protesting the tenure decision:
"Captain Kangaroo has taught students about the caste system in India, government corruption in that country, and mistreatment of women in Africa."
It would be interesting to ask these students whether she also taught them about literature, the ostensible subject of the courses.

One final point, since Captain Kangaroo brought it up in the article.

She is quoted as saying, about colleagues who have received tenure since she came to the University:
"They have tenured Mister Rogers, Krusty the Clown, and the Easter Bunny while I was here for far fewer publications than mine."
One is tempted to ask why she offers no explanation as to why the Easter Bunny, who is black, was awarded tenure, if the Department is such a hotbed of racism. Is Captain Kangaroo saying that in one case, the Department expresses its (alleged) racism by denying tenure to non-white professors, but in another case, it does so by hugging them close? That she spouts such illogical nonsense is perhaps as telling as any evidence one might require in order to decide whether she deserves a lifetime appointment as a teacher.

Further, it is well-known that the Easter Bunny publicy supported Captain Kangaroo's bid for tenure. It is simply astounding to this writer that she would turn around and repay the Easter Bunny's friendship and loyalty by impugning his academic qualifications.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The English Department Sees Its Mission As Paving The Way For The New World Order

The committee charged with drafting a Departmental mission statement presented a one-page draft at a recent meeting.

The draft begins:
[The Department] sees textual and interpretive skills as crucial to the exercise of global citizenship, particularly at a time in which the honest and precise articulation of ideas and values is increasingly endangered.
"Global citizenship"? What exactly do you mean by that? And you have the nerve to whine about "honest and precise articulation of ideas and values"?


Not only that, but should a mission statement (which will stand, one assumes, for some time to come) be so laden with poorly-veiled references to current events?

It's no wonder nobody wants to work on this committee.