Academic Jobs Wiki

Bard Discussion copied from old wiki[]

Bard C......English...FYI: By all means apply, but I recommend taking a job at Bard only as a completely LAST resort...

Q: Wow, why is that? (if you are able to say) Thanks.

Q: Yes, only fair to briefly explain: was the problem students? faculty? admin.?. BTW: I'd say this is a long 18th c. rather than early mod. posting. Also, I think this same job or one very similar was advertised last year (I know someone in 18th c. who interviewed for it). I assume the previous search failed if they are readvertising this year . . .

Q: Search for this position last year failed?

A: beware. candidate hired, but department decision was reversed by crazy president and candidate was unhired.

A: Last year, they were looking for someone who worked in 18th-c. and either the history of science or globalism. The subspecialties were pretty narrow. Maybe they ended up offering the position to someone who didn't fit of those subfields and the Pres. overturned for that reason? I don't know how closely hires have to match the ad. (Response to post above: Ad language often barely matters when a SC actually gets to the interview/offer stage and I would be shocked if upper admin really referred back to the original ad to justify rescinding an offer to a candidate. Ad language just isn't that important, usually; it's quite common to see candidates hired who bear only a slight resemblance to what the ad appeared to seek.)

A: This line of discussion is unbecoming. One should be aware, too, that all kinds of people involved with searches read this wiki.

A: It's the threatening tone of the last comment that is unbecoming. This site is set up for sharing this kind of information.

A: Threatening? Nah, but you can thank me for the heads'-up. One must be very naive if one does not see how bad the original comment makes the person look who did not get the job. If you want to give real information, give it. What was offered was not "information." Please note that I'm not referring to the comment that the search failed, but to the add'l "information" offered on the cross-listing below under 18th Century.

A: Those uncivil 18th century scholars! ; ) If a school mishandles a search, as Bard did, not only on this occasion, in this field, but on other occasions, in other fields, then candidates searching for a job have a right to know. I do not know what you mean by "real" or "hard" information, but it is a fact that Bard has engaged in practices questionable and irregular at best. Perhaps the talented scholars now working elsewhere should be asked if what they encountered at Bard was "real" and "hard." However, if I were applying to Bard, and I am not, nor have I ever, I would want to take a real hard look at the experiences of prior candidates.

A: I agree completely with the last message. The information is worth knowing about, and it's ridiculous to state it makes the job candidate "look bad"-institutions are always wanting to make it seem that way. If anything, Bard looks really bad, and the abuse will only be perpetuated if a candidate encounters the situation thinking he/she is the only one who's experienced it and doesn't want anyone else to know. Such mishandling is never o.k..

A: I, too, agree. Still, such comments could torpedo the search (again) despite good intentions of committee: discussion should be forwarded to the Bard administrator who caused the problem.

A: Saying that a school's president is crazy is not what I would call information. I do think such far-reaching types of comments tend to reflect on the person saying them, or the person who might be assumed to be saying them. Of course we all want info, but the reasons why searches fail are usually complicated. I'd love to know what happened with the search and why it failed, beyond imputed craziness of prez.

A: But what if it's true; have you thought of that? What if such a state of affairs if precisely what prompted the original poster to write that one should "take a job only as a completely LAST resort" (cf. above)? What if, for instance, the president of Bard _is_ known for meddling with the decisions and interests of individual departments at his school? Wouldn't you need to know that? I'm troubled that people are jumping to judge and moralize. I'm troubled too that people don't seem aware that there really are some troubled institutions out there, and choose instead to point fingers at people who are calling them on it, making high-minded distinctions between "hard" and "soft" information.

A: How badly do you want the job? Think of it this way: someone taking offense at the notion of a college president being called "crazy," and refusing to believe there may be a grain of truth in the statement and choosing instead to shoot the messenger, says a lot about that person and his/her own interests and ambitions.

Follow-up on Bard: you're troubled? I'm troubled that anyone would be so naive as not to know that every institution is troubled. Crazy prezzies, crazy deans, crazy dep't heads, crazy colleagues...No one said there mightn't be "a grain of truth" to the statement, but anyone who is going to take/not take a job (as a "last resort" or not) based on what some phantom says on a wiki, uh, *that* says a lot about that person. That said, there are ways to give information that seem more reliable than others. The dramatic commandment about not taking a job except as a last resort didn't reveal ANYTHINGin my opinionthat counts as information. WHY DID THE PREZ REVERSE the decision? Was a reason given? DOES the prez of Bard have a habit of pulling stunts like this? On the bright side, such a prez is not likely to stay in the position 4ever, are they? 30 years and counting

RE: Bard All the second guessing and apologia about Bard is typical of the dissembling we do in the profession. Take the information for what it is and run with it. Few of us are in a position to turn down any tenure-track job, but just be aware there are obvious problems, and keep that in mind. The relative truth or untruth of any claim is uneven, unstable, and strange. But don't say you haven't been warned.

RE: Bard: I mentioned to my director all the blathering about the Bard Pres. My director's response: "he is crazy, but he's also brilliant." Response: Leon Botstein is a brilliant fundraiser, a mediocre conductor, and a tyrant in the classroom. In short, an academic sociopath. Problem is, he runs the joint.

I agree with the person responding to the Bard criticism. Anyone who doesn't want to admit that virtually all departments in academia have their odd-balls is being unrealistic. The department where I pursued my graduate degree was a prime example. Fantastic place, but there is at least one person who everyone tried to keep away from prospective students and job candidates. Also, most schools have some administrative kinks or conflicts to deal with, from difficult Deans to Presidents who put too much emphasis on the bottom line. Be realistic folks. And also recognize that some of these posting are likely coming from disgruntled job candidates who did NOT get offers. Or disgruntled adjuncts who hoped they'd get rolled over into a TT job and were dissappointed.

My Bard Story[]

In 2000, I was invited to campus for a junior post in Romanticism at Bard. The year before, I had gone on the market ABD and had been fortunate to land a tenure-track post at a comprehensive university in a small city in the midwest. I loved my colleagues and most of my students, but my wife felt very isolated from our family on the East Coast and her job (also in the dept.) paid pitifully. So we decided to go on the market again, with doctorate now in hand.

So: Once I arrived at Bard, I was thrilled with the faculty and students that I met. Engaging, humane, very smart. And the campus is lovely. President Botstein, however, proved problematic. He interviews all candidates, junior and senior alike, and so I dutifully reported to his on-campus house and cooled my heels on his front steps for 30 minutes. When he finally arrived, he ushered me into the house and went to retrieve my file. He then read it (apparently for the first time) while I was sitting there and asked me: So, are you married? The next question: What does your wife do? Followed by: What do your parents do? Where are your grandparents from? Of course, all of these questions run afoul of MLA guidelines and indeed any professional code, and I could have terminated the interview right there. But with no other job offers yet, this would have meant scotching a chance to teach at a great place. So I answered his questions (more on that later). Then, he noticed I had taught literary theory and proceeded to attack it as the worst thing that has happened to the humanities in 30 years. I admitted the field's excesses while defending the value of the questions it raised. I can't recall much of the rest of the interview. In any case, after 40 minutes or so, he shook my hand and told me I had made a good impression.

At the dinner with the search cmte. afterward, they were elated. Apparently, Botstein often terminates interviews quickly, so that I had survived to the end was a good sign.

So I went on to another campus interview--at the school I am now fortunate to work at--and waited for a phone call. Nothing for two weeks. So I called the chair of the Bard search and she told me that I had been the unanimous first choice of the committee but that the president had insisted that they hire their second choice for reasons he did not deign to clarify. Said second choice had accepted, and so that was that. I thanked the chair for divulging this info--she certainly didn't have to do so--and turned my attention to the other school where I was still in the running.

Two days later, the chair called back and asked if I was still interested in the job; the president's selected candidate had decided to take another post. Yes, I said, very much so, although I hope she understood that I was not as enthusiastic about the senior administration as I had been and would need some assurance that he wouldn't be invested in my failure if I did end up coming. She called the next day with bad news. Pres. Botstein again refused to hire me. She asked if it was because I hadn't yet published much. No, that was OK. Was it that I hadn't come from Harvard and Yale? No, he knew that my program was top-notch. Well, she then said something like: If you can't give us a good reason why, then we think we should have the right to choose our own colleagues. Pres. Botstein then apparently exploded, declared that she lacked "the moral passion that I have for this institution" and shut down the search. They didn't hire the next couple years either, I believe.

What Pres. Botstein found so objectionable about me is impossible to determine. Theories from members of the search committee who contacted me to commiserate ranged from widely, from the somewhat unhelpful "he's crazy" to various forms of snobbery--the fact that I had even spent a year at a relatively undistinguished university in the midwest told against me--to his objection to my involvement to help workers at my graduate school get a living wage. It doesn't really matter. The point is that anyone applying for a job at Bard should know that it's a wonderful place in a great many respects. And, to be fairer to him than he deserves, Pres. Botstein, has done much to raise its profile and strengthen the place. But my story is hardly the only one that paints him as an arbitrary, tyrannical figure, and so anyone accepting a post there should walk in with her or his eyes open.

I hope this helps in that regard.

Alum 17:05, 21 December 2007 (UTC)alum

P. S. Things turned out very well for me; that same year, I received an offer at a research university in a big city on the East Coast and love it here. I'm up for tenure this year and seem very likely to get it.


Where are the rebuttals
I noticed that in the Schools to Fear section rebuttals to posts about particular schools were supposedly made, but they don't seem to appear in the discussion section. Sure would like to read these rebuttals! While an occasional disgruntled job candidate who didn't perform well in interviews or during campus visits might post a comment about a hiring committee's or department's unethical (or simply bad) behavior, my sense is that most of the posts relate true interview horror stories, so it would be interesting to see exactly how schools pinpointed as "nightmare" schools respond to these posts. I'm thinking that this Wiki has created a situation for those schools that they have not had to face before, and that is that stories of their unethical behavior can now be circulated among the job candidate community, so that, whereas before such schools had all the power and didn't have to fear consequences, they are now put in the position of having to answer for the way they have mistreated potential hires. In fact, this wiki as a whole has changed the power dynamics of the typical job search and interview process, so that now job candidates have not only more knowledge about the process but also more say. Perhaps then we need a new category called Schools THAT Fear to supplement the Schools TO Fear category, and that's where rebuttals from thoughtless or ill-behaved hiring committees or departments can post their rebuttals and rationalize what they have done.. This being said, I think most schools try their best to be considerate of job candidates (as evidenced in the Schools to Love section), but it's sure great to have a way to expose those few schools that botch things up royally.

They should either be above in this section or over on the "universities to love" page. When we moved from the old wiki some comments on both pages were probably lost (thanks to the idiot that was deleting things). I suspect that someone will eventually repost what they originally had if missing. Most of the rebuttals that I read were basically indicating the opposit of the complaint. Just the fact that there is a rebuttal should indicate to you that you should take that comment within context. At least that is my view. Also, at least one rebuttal appeared to be an arguement between the poster and someone who worked there. That was a real interesting exchange. Obviously, one, the other, or both had serious problems! :)

thoughts about Bard from a local[]

I am in academia, but I have never worked at or applied for a position at Bard myself. However, I grew up in the vicinity of Bard and have several family members and family friends who work there. I would like to confirm that the complaints about hiring and tenure practices are likely not just the ventings of folks who didn't get hired or tenured. It's true, all institutions have their forms of dysfunction. But Bard is an unusual institution in that it has been run by the same president for the last 30+ years (since Botstein himself was only 30 years old) and has a tendency to run the place like his own personal fiefdom. To his credit, he has done amazing things for the college both in terms of improving its academic standing and bringing lots of fantastic resources to the place. But I have also heard numerous stories via my connections on Bard staff that it is very hard to get tenure and that he makes no qualms about getting personally involved in tenure decisions.

That said, I hear great things about Bard students. And I've taken several classes there myself (both during high school and before applying to grad schools) and found them to be excellent. 17:32, 11 June 2008 (UTC)


How to we use this information without having a posting date? How old is some of this information? 19:25, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Towson University[]

After a hard earned masters degree in graphic design and several years of industry experience often working 60+ hours per week, I accepted a position as an assistant professor of graphic design in the art department at Towson University in the fall of 2000. I was excited to enter this new chapter in my life. I was not prepared for what I was about to encounter. The art department consisted of 16 full time faculty and many adjunct faculty. The majority of the tenured senior faculty were men. The majority of the nontenured faculty were women. What people don’t talk about is how dependent the junior faculty are on senior faculty. The imbalance of power is far stronger than the power imbalance of faculty to student. A student wants a good grade to move on to the next class. He or she wants to graduate or go to a good graduate program, and eventually move away from the university. The junior faculty must have the approval and support of senior faculty for promotion, for raises, and for a permanent position in the department. The support of senior faculty is critical every year and at every juncture. No one discusses powerlessness. No junior professor would ever want to admit that she is subservient to a male, but this is exactly where I found myself between the years of 2000 to 2006. In 2001, the most senior faculty in the art department began to body bump me in the hallways. He was 6’1 and I am 4”11”. He eventually got me into his office where he told me repeatedly that he couldn’t take his eyes off of me, and stated that if I didn’t sleep with him, I wouldn’t get tenure. I knew that this was not acceptable behavior and let him know that I wasn’t interested. I also knew that this was a clear case of sexual harassment. So, I reported the incident to my Chairperson and to the Dean of the school. The Dean advised me to let him know that I was not interested and to do this in front of other people so that there would be an audience. She reminded me that harassers are known to bully when no one else is around in order to ensure that there are no witnesses. She also said that she was obliged to report this. On the following day, in front of two other faculty members, I told him that I wasn’t interested in him and that he was to leave me alone. I asked him if he understood and he replied yes. On the following day, as I was leading my class into a computer lab, one of the faculty who had been present the day before (also a male senior faculty) assaulted me. He threw me up against the door and shoved something hard into my back. I fell. I took a moment to get my breath. Shaking, I walked to the art office and reported this to my Chair. I was being physically attacked, intimidated, bullied, and harassed. I thought that, surely, something would be done to these two people, that some action would be taken. I had been harassed and assaulted. The law had been broken twice. I was in a state of shock. The institution launched a “so-called” full-scale investigation where all of the faculty in the department were questioned. I was told to keep quiet about it until it had been completed. Several faculty reported to me that this was not the first time these two had been in trouble. My own attorney interviewed every faculty member and found the same information and also found that these two senior faculty were best friends. But the institution's findings reported that nothing had happened. In fact, they began to launch an investigation into my background. I was hounded, harassed, and totally ignored. Everyday, my student display cases had garbage stuffed in them. No one would sit next to me in faculty meetings and I was not invited to departmental gatherings. I became a pariah. Then, the faculty tried to end my contract. However, both professors continued to sit on promotion and tenure committees and to fully participate in the running of the department. I can’t even begin to describe my humiliation, embarrassment and the depression that followed. The lack of response from the university and the denial of all that took place coupled with their insistence that I keep quiet could not have been clearer. They were not going to take any action against these two professors. At the time, I could not help but think of Penn State and the Catholic Church. Other instances were institutions became bullies and continued to perpetuate and enable illegal and unacceptable behavior. This incident would follow me to my next teaching job where I was blackballed by Towson University. Non-tenured professional women in academia don’t want to talk about these things. They live in fear that they will be next. Like dutiful daughters, they fall into lockstep with their powerful abusive fathers (senior faculty.) They don’t dare question or complain. They are entirely dependent on these men for their future and their economic stability. How can one NOT talk about this power imbalance? So, now I ask, how do we combat institutionalized brutality against women? We talk about equality in the workplace, but how do we deal with inequality and violence against women when it happens? What advice do we give our younger female professors when such instances arise? Speak up and forfeit your careers or stay silent and compromised? I still have no answers.

CSU Northridge[]

While it is impossible for me to assess the substance of the comments, it's worth pointing out that the recent spate of posts about CSU Northridge, which purport to be a dialogue between multiple commentators, are clearly all written by one person. It would be better for this person to combine their posts into a single statement rather than creating the misleading impression that many users of this page are criticising CSUN.