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Beryl Lieff Benderly

Snow Job

Actually, no job may be more like it — or so it must seem to many would-be faculty members who had job interviews scheduled at the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Society’s Eastern division.  This gathering, which serves as the discipline’s main annual employment market, began Monday in snow-crippled Boston.  Inside Higher Education reports that the national airline snarl caused by the weekend’s huge blizzard is keeping many job candidates and search committee members from holding scheduled interviews.  Many who planned to present papers or posters are also disappointed.

APA executive director David Schrader tried to resassure panicky applicants by noting that since “departments aren’t scheduling interviews with people they don’t think are very good,” they would probably arrange another method of holding an interview.  The Eastern division’s secretary-treasurer Richard Bett, however, termed the situation “a nightmare basically.”  Apparently APA has no Plan B for the eventuality of a winter storm in wintry New England and no systematic way of letting people know what is going on.

One hopes that their advanced training may allow frantic job seekers to view the situation philosophically, but for some the damage may indeed be serious.  The situation remains fluid and chaotic, as people struggle to make new travel plans or re-schedule events.  Bett, at least, sees signs of improvement today.  (He, however, already has a job, as a professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins). 

Inside Higher Education notes that APA is the only major academic society that holds its main job-interview confab during the snow-vulnerable and chronically overbooked Christmas  holiday season.  
Other scholarly groups perhaps should avoid feeling smug about their clever planning, however, unless they have contingency plans for inclement weather.   AAAS, for example — the publisher of Science Careers — will meet in Washington, DC, in February, the month when, last year, the city was engulfed by one of the two historic storms that supposedly blizzard-hardened former Chicagoan and new Washingtonian Barack Obama dubbed “Snowmageddon.”