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Archive for Monday, October 3, 2011

Fewer job openings in higher education mean tougher search

October 3, 2011

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Alicia Levin remembers what it was like to be looking around in the higher education job market. And it wasn’t much fun.

Levin is a musicologist, meaning she’s something like a music historian. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in 2009 and finally got hired on a tenure-track position in the Kansas University School of Music this year.

“It was a horrible experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”

As universities across the country face state budget shortfalls and are feeling the effects of a slumping economy, it creates a backlog of qualified applicants to fill open professor posts. And for departments looking to hire new positions, the situation has meant they often can attract their top choices among the large pool of applicants to come to the university.

It was a lot of checking up on websites that tracked open positions in the field. Some of the sites allowed users to post updates on how the job searches were going, so she could watch as jobs she’d applied for moved to the phone interview stage, and then through the process until they were filled.

For others, including Jacob Dakon, a Ph.D. candidate at Ohio State University, the search went a little better. He was able to secure a position on the music faculty right out of his doctoral program.

“I just got lucky,” he said. He said put in 11 applications, and KU was the first to call. He was able to wind up with the position.

“I never heard from any of the other universities,” he said.

The market can vary across the disciplines. The Modern Language Association reported that the number of jobs advertised with the organization stabilized in 2010-11, increasing by 8.2 percent for English positions and 7.1 percent in the foreign languages.

But the positions are still down at about a third below their 2007-08 peak.

The American Historical Association reported that jobs posted with its organization fell 29.4 percent in the academic year 2009-10, to its lowest point in 25 years. The 569 advertised positions “marks a precipitous fall from the historical high of 1,059 advertised positions recorded just two years ago,” wrote Robert B. Townsend, the AHA’s assistant director, who tracks the jobs data annually.

While the available number of jobs were falling, the AHA reported that the number of people earning doctoral degrees continued to rise slightly, up to 989 in 2009-10, from 969 a year before.

Marta Caminero-Santangelo, chairwoman of KU’s English department, said the market has meant more options for her department.

“It’s a buyer’s market,” she said. “We’ve definitely been able to get our top choices.”

For a tenure-track assistant professor position, applications typically range from newly minted Ph.D. candidates to people who already have assistant professorships at other schools, she said. Tenured associate professor posts typically attract associate professors from other schools, she said.

KU hired two new English professors this year — one assistant professor, and one associate professor, Caminero-Santangelo said.

“We’ve got extremely high-qualified people competing for the jobs we’re offering,” she said.

Levin said that more qualified candidates in the pool can contribute to the backlog of people looking for jobs. The people who earned doctorates in 2009 typically will take a non-tenured lecturer position and then try again in 2010, 2011 and so on. Every year, they have to compete with a new crop of candidates, too.

“While it was a difficult process, it was definitely affirming,” Levin said. She said she got great support from colleagues and others along the way. “There’s no group I’d rather be a part of.”

Kansas University assistant professor of musicology Alicia Levin, and assistant professor of music education and music therapy Jacob Dakon are pictured Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 in Murphy Hall. Both are recent additions to the music department. However, the two have had different experiences finding tenure-track positions.

Kansas University assistant professor of musicology Alicia Levin, and assistant professor of music education and music therapy Jacob Dakon are pictured Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 in Murphy Hall. Both are recent additions to the music department. However, the two have had different experiences finding tenure-track positions.

Comments

engr 3 years, 3 months ago

“It was a horrible experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”

What would she recommend?

shawn1040 3 years, 3 months ago

A Ph.D in music? Did she honestly think she would easily find a job is something so specialized? Musicologist? Ha! She probably recommends getting degree that is demand, like engineering, law or medicine.

shawn1040 3 years, 3 months ago

At least I have a job! Sounds like you are familiar with the fast food industry - did you get fired for not asking about fries? I have a degree in engineering and have recruiters constantly calling to offer me jobs. The job market is not bad - IF you have the right degree/occupation.

shawn1040 3 years, 3 months ago

Don't be mad because your GED is worthless.

Jimo 3 years, 3 months ago

Engineering is in demand. But (a) our educational system doesn't produce sufficient graduates to fulfill demand, and (b) not everyone can be an engineer. See e.g., Ms. Levin.

Law is not in demand. (Indeed, if you need further proof for the lie that we're tying up the economy with regulations, you need look no further than the job prospects for lawyers - the people who administering, litigate, and adjudicate regulations. One word: horrible.)

Medicine is in demand until we finally are forced to deal with the fact that we spend several multiples on medicine in this country compared to others. It'll be a rude awakening for those studying medicine when they convert from 'whatever you want to charge' to 'what your gov't approved payscale allows'. Broke is broke. The fact is the average physician in the U.S. charges a 25% premium over his doppelganger in Canada (and even more compared to elsewhere, measured on a PPP basis.) I doubt we'll make it another decade before physicians wake up to reality. (Might be a great time to be an extra-credentialed nurse though -- cheaper than a doctor but probably all that's necessary for most cases.)

rtwngr 3 years, 3 months ago

Another typical LJW article.

"Please allow us to state the obvious". Blah blah blah blah.

shawn1040 3 years, 3 months ago

Tonto is pretty funny - right? He must have downed a 12 pack of beer this morning.. He seems to always bring up fries in every comment. Maybe he is smoking the peace pipe a little too much..

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 3 months ago

I have a solution to this. Vote for Governer Hair, the bigot from Texas. He claims he has the key to creating jobs! He has claimed credit for that state having a better economy thant the rest of the country, just nominate this guy and elect him to the White House. Rush Limbaugh and Sara Palin will be so grateful to you.

Jimo 3 years, 3 months ago

There is not "high demand" for truck drivers except as to cover turnover of those fired or who quit.

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