Campus Visits for philosophy jobs


In January and February departments invite the final candidates for a position to come to their campuses.

These visits involve, roughly, four things.

  1. A 45 minute job talk (occasionally a seminar-style presentation at forward thinking places)
  2. Interview-like meetings with members of the department, including students.
  3. Socializing with same, usually over meals.
  4. A meeting with an administrator, usually the dean of whatever unit includes your department.

I don’t have time to go over all of this right now. I’m just going to add things in as I answer email questions about them. (Seriously).

Meeting the dean

Meeting the dean is a standard part of the campus visit since, officially, the dean is the one who hires you even though, in practice, deans usually take the recommendations of departments.

Fortunately, deans are among the most practiced people you will meet at making conversation. Managing people is their job, after all. So, unlike your breakfasts with members of the department, your conversation with the dean is unlikely to have long awkward gaps.

Anyway, you typically talk about either of the following sorts of things:

  1. University level things — how well the University is funded (an obsession of administrators), the composition of the student body, its mission
  2. The nuts and bolts of the job you’re up for, such as research funds, paychecks, leaves/sabbaticals, and the like.

Deans, and administrators in general, think about how many headaches a new hire can solve. They like to think of full classes and satisfying multiple constituencies. A lot of the enthusiasm for cross-disciplinary this or that comes from administrators. If a new hire can make some connection with a department other than his own, that’s a plus for a dean because it involves giving something to two different groups.

So if you have a story about how you fit into multiple holes, great. But don’t try to force one. Among their skills, deans are experts at detecting BS. They see a lot of it in their line of work.

This page was written by Michael Green. It was posted July 28, 2008.
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