Rumors that Temple University will not hire its own graduates have some faculty worried they will not have jobs after the spring.
In a memo sent to Temple’s deans July 23, 2003, University President David Adamany said the University subscribes to the “well-established convention in academic life that [Temple] does not appoint its own graduates to the faculty unless [those graduates] have gotten tenure and promotion elsewhere and have, in addition, made a particularly impressive record.”
Several e-mails have been sent to various departments with the same message, although not in the same words.
Many colleges and universities do not hire their own graduates for full-time tenured positions.
The memo said Temple should not appoint its own recent graduates as Presidential
Faculty, the name for the university’s full-time permanent professors. The memo also said that only in rare cases should Temple graduates be hired as Dean’s Appointments, who are faculty hired year-to-year with a term limit of six years. According to their contracts, they have to renew their appointments every June 30.
“[Adamany] reaffirmed what is the policy at almost every place that I know of and that is that when we do searches, we should not be looking for regular tenure-track positions,” Vice Provost of Undergraduate Affairs Stephen Zelnick said. “We should not hire our own graduates.”
“It was more of a statement than a policy,” Zelnick added. “It was more a sentiment expressed, a directive rather than a policy. It’s led to a series of discussions, and there’s no definitive resolution to those discussions.”
A self-described “gathering of concerned students” met Monday to discuss and instigate change of this practice. Sarah Baker, the Temple Student Government Vice President of Academic Affairs, called the impromptu meeting to raise student awareness of the issue and organize protest it.
Leah Blewett, an Honors student, suggested students “push for a grandfather clause to keep faculty that are already here working and teaching at Temple.” Several other students agreed with her.
“Many of us are fearing our jobs. Many of us are depressed about it. We do carry a lot of the work load, and we do not make a lot of the money,” a teacher who wished to remain anonymous said. “This institution says you’re not good enough [to teach] if you went to Temple.”
It is unclear what the university is planning for next year. Zelnick said Dean’s Appointment faculty have to re-apply for their positions every year, and those with Temple degrees are still welcome to apply. Although the University may not let go all of its Dean’s Appointments with degrees from Temple after the spring, that idea is currently under discussion and review, according to Zelnick.
“Dean’s appointments wouldn’t be considered for tenure track positions if they had a Temple Ph.D. They are not, in the normal course of things, candidates for positions,” Zelnick said. “That’s the case everyplace.
“We have some lovely teachers who are our own graduates who are dean’s appointments. It’s a difficult situation for them, but sooner or later it would be a difficult situation for them one way or the other because of the six-year limit.”
The students were not sure what they could do, especially since the issue is still murky.
“We’re not really doing anything right now because of the information we gathered Tuesday morning,” Baker said yesterday. “We couldn’t really gather reliable information, so the issue to students is pretty much dead.”
Reasons behind the policy include Temple’s desire to promote academic diversity. Academic programs are stronger when the faculty represent diverse research and teaching methods, Adamany wrote in the July memo.
“To put this a little more pointedly, academic programs, like other organisms, rarely become stronger through inbreeding,” he wrote.
The idea is to make sure academics at Temple do not get locked into one mode of thinking, Zelnick said.
“The reason why this is universally the case is [that] you want to bring in people to join your faculty who have experience in many different places so that there’s not just one way of doing things,” he said. “There’s always a cross-pollination issue of bringing in fresh ideas, views, ways of doing things.”
The University also wants to ensure Temple graduates don’t expect to be hired after completing their Ph.D. programs.
“Once you start hiring your own people there is an expectation among your graduates that they will be hired by you. That leads to a lot of confusion,” Zelnick said.
Barbara J. Isenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.