I figured this update deserved a new post, rather than adding to the original.
Yesterday (Sept. 11) I attended a talk at UTK by current MLA President Michael Bérubé. A member of the audience asked him about the CSU job ad, and he responded that he knew about it, thought it was horrible, put it on the next MLA Executive Committee Agenda, and that the MLA was going to un-approve the ad.
Today, it appears that CSU has changed the ad, and removed the offensive language. I’m glad that they were shamed into doing it. I doubt, though, that changing the ad will affect what goes on in search committee deliberations.
Unfortunately, what CSU put into writing (inadvertently or not) reveals a set of assumptions that operate often, and sometimes explicitly on search committees. The further one is from degree the more that date penalizes them (unless they already have a TT job). It’s so much like the recent practice of companies not interviewing the unemployed for jobs. And it’s pernicious, especially in an age of waning opportunity.
I frequently tell our graduate students that excelling in grad school qualifies one for a job market lottery ticket. But, especially given that one cannot forecast 6-8 years out what the economy will be doing, and what the hiring situation will be like, it’s not much more than that. And that is if one is excelling. And, on top of all of that, we already cede the reality that new PhDs will have no control over the geography of the professional career or its impact on family.
I should have named the original post “Stale PhDs Need Not Apply”, because regardless of the implications of the ad for protected categories, what the ad did was, in the words of a friend, “invent a new epistemology of exclusion.” And as Robert Townsend documents in Figure 1 of his aptly named post The Ecology of the History Job, it’s quite obvious who the target of that exclusion is.