Most people seeking their first faculty position have spent much of their recent time immersed in research. But, as Messiah College department chair and hiring committee veteran John Fea reminds job seekers at Inside Higher Ed, “the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities … stress teaching over research.” These institutions, which also account for the majority of faculty jobs, include “elite and not-so-elite liberal arts colleges, private comprehensive colleges, and non-flagship state universities,” he writes, not to mention community colleges.
Preparing for an interview at a teaching-intensive school requires a
whole different kind of research, Fea suggests. Specifically, it
requires studying the department’s course offerings and figuring out how
your own expertise can fit in. “Make it clear that you can plug in
where you are needed, but also be ready with something unique you might
be able to add,” such as a course that gives a new spin to an existing
offering or that covers a subject of fairly general interest currently
missing from the college’s catalog, Fea notes.
message? If the committee members sense “that you see this job as a
stepping stone to a position at a research university, you can probably
kiss the job good-bye.”
Fea is a historian, but his advice
applies to would-be professors in scientific fields, too. My father, for
example, was a chemist and the dean of science at a teaching
institution, and his attitude toward hiring new faculty members mirrored
Fea’s. Teaching ability–and interest in same–were the criteria that
ultimately determined who got the job. You can read Fea’s essay here.