Academic Jobs Wiki "Universities to Fear" page

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Academic Jobs Wiki "Universities to Fear" page

Post by Strelnikov » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:00 am

Brought here through the glory of copypasting. Be forwarned that everything I copied came from a grid layout, and each poster has their own weird style of filling that in.

Universities to fear

This page is for applicants to warn others of institutions/departments with less than reputable practices. This way we can all avoid the bad ones!

If you wish to post NICE COMMENTS or REBUTTALS, then go on the Universities to love page. This in particular goes for people who delete posts or post insults about other posters. Everyone reading this site knows that the context of many posts are fueled by disgruntled faculty who leave or get let go. That is why we have both a place for good comments (Universities to Love) and bad comments (Universities to Hate). If a place is really good, then they will discredit comments on here during their visits. Deleting comments or insulting others only reflects poorly on the school in question.

How do I add a row to the table?

To add a row, select Edit (the blue button at the top of the page). When the Visual Editor window opens, scroll down to the entry that will go before the one you are adding. Right click on that entry, and in the menu that comes up choose Row>Insert Row After. Add your entry by filling in the cells in the new row that is created, but do not hit Enter or Return to add blank lines within the cells. Finally, select Publish (the button on the far right of toolbar at the top of the Visual Editor) to add your entry to the page. [Instructions rewritten for clarity June 2014]

Is there a way to fix the line wrapping? The text is stretching out to infinity such that I have to scroll sideways several times to read a sentence.

Fixed, please do not add extra paragraph breaks in the entries, this will mess up the table.
You can add a paragraph by holding Shift while pressing enter.
When I right click on the entry, I do not get an option that says "Row." Is there a way around this?

At least on my computer, it is necessary to click the arrow next to the "Edit" button, and then click "Classic Editor" to make the instructions (i.e., right-click, "insert row after") work.
You can always try editing in "Source" mode. Sometimes it is easier for negotiating the tables. Click Edit. Note 2 tabs at the top of the Edit window ("Visual" and "Source"). Click the tab that says "Source." The page will resolve into html format but will still be legible. Scroll down to the section where you want to add your post. Note how the other entries in the table are formatted (school; department; issue/date) as a guideline. Type your post, click "preview" and then "publish" if everything looks okay.
The table is so complicated, I am afraid, no one is going to post.

[Admin.] I agree. I think these tables are a headache for people to edit and discourage participation. They were set up a long time ago by the people who first started the wiki (not me!)--maybe they made sense at that time, but the page has outgrown them by now. I would love to reorganize this page (and Universities to love) to keep all the posts but eliminate the tables and make it easier to add new contributions. I cannot take on this work at this time, however; if anyone would like to volunteer to reformat the page, please leave me a message! --Una74 (talk) 23:18, July 23, 2014 (UTC)

Some formatting etiquette. Before you add your entry, please read this:Edit
DON'T use hard returns before your entry. This will throw the table formatting off and give everyone a headache.

Please make sure ALL information is factually correct BEFORE posting.Edit
Please DATE your entries! And put them in alphabetical order in the appropriate sections.Edit
Please add responses using bullet points.Edit
Thank you!

All Entries still present, now divided into Current, Chronic, and Old Tables. I am struck that there are no recent complaints about lack of contact, lack of reimbursement, rudeness, etc. While the market may have gotten worse, there seems to be a rising level of humanity / accountability promoting good behavior.

I wish it were that. I think it's that candidates are stark raving terrified. Check out the person on the venting page who was offered a job, given 2 days to answer, and then had the offer rescinded. He/she hasn't posted the details here!

I have now!

The reason the complaints are dropping is because people don't know about this page, and when they post on the regular one it gets deleted or moved here, doubtless by wiki admins with the best of intentions.

I'll just echo the "stark raving terrified" thing--I've had several rather bad campus visit experiences this season but am not able to post about several because I'd be clearly identifiable by faculty at those institutions.

Added May 2019: I am also stark raving terrified - I would love to add the institution from which I was dismissed here with a warning to anyone applying to that department but am afraid I will be recognized.

UPDATE (Sept. 2012): Added new section for current issues (problems arising during 2012-13 searches).

Current Issues: Specific Problems with Searches, Departments and/or University/College Administrations Occurring in AY 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-2017, 2017-2018 Search Cycles


Furman University

If you still somehow naively believe that Furman is the right place for you to live your Dead Poets Society dream, my post may likely break your heart.

Long story short, Furman is simply a family school intended for a bunch of privileged yet minimally talented white kids. You cannot afford to have standards; you do not need to be accomplished; all you have to do is to be white, have a degree from a random place, make sure all your students are happy, and hold strong beliefs in the eternal glory of the south.

Academic integrity is a joke here, and publishing with undergrads is simply a way to rebate students (their paying customers) their crazily expensive tuition with free rides, so these kids can finally have something to show in their otherwise blank resume. The students may not even be aware of the project, but they magically end up in the author list. PhD and postdoc work of any new faculty can also magically appear as Furman's highlight of "publication with undergrads". Of course this makes grant application so much easier, particularly in South Carolina where quality liberal-arts education basically does not exist.

And don't even get me started on racism and diversity here. Just check a faculty page of any department. If you can find a black, a latino or an asian, you'd better head out and buy lottery now (foreign language departments might be exceptions since there's honestly not much choice). The limited number of minority faculty often suffer a lot from all the double standards they face on a daily basis. To cover up their pure whiteness, some departments even start putting black janitors on their faculty/staff page.

In conclusion, if you are not white, have no ties with the Carolinas, or simply don't want to see a confederate flag every day on your way home, but somehow got a job at Furman, RUN!

University of Chicago

(2019) I had a really enjoyable MLA interview in Chicago with 8-10 faculty members from the Department.

Unfortunately, the search chair never contacted me again to provide details on the progress of the search. I never heard about campus visits, whether a candidate had been chosen, or anything else. I wrote a message in follow-up with email tracking; the chair never responded, but they did open my message five times in one day.

I learned many months later from a departmental alum that this was a fake search and that the Department had hired the spouse of a faculty member they wanted to retain.

It's disappointing to see a fake search happening at the University of Chicago, which has a reputation for being one of the top two schools in the country for my field.

A few suggestions for universities doing this kind of hiring practice:

1) If it's a fake search (or even if it's a real search!), hold the interviews by videoconferencing. It's not reasonable or ethical to expect candidates to pay to attend an interview that has little/no possibility of resulting in their hire.

2) Any candidate who makes it to the interview stage (and ideally all candidates for the position) should be kept abreast of updates in the search. It was disorienting to be dropped completely by the search committee after the interview. The fact that the chair opened my message so many times suggests that they didn't know what to say. A simple 'We have moved on to other candidates, but it was a pleasure to speak with you and thank you for your time' would have sufficed.

Boise State University Social Science departments (in the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs--SSPA) (Fall 2014) The College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs (SSPA) is being eliminated at the end of the 2014-15 academic year. It has been in operation for 29 years. The eight departments in the college will go to health sciences (socialwork), a new college of social policy (public policy, poli sci, crim justice) and the rest will go to Arts & Sciences (history, anthro, communication, sociology).
While this change in itself is not so bad, the stress and politics accompanying this change--coming from the top, President Kustra and Provost Schimpf's offices--diminish the contributions of individual faculty. We don't recommend applying for or getting a new job in social sciences in the near future. It is a disaster during this transition. Replacements of good faculty leaving or contemplating leaving may not occur. The communication department in particular is having substantial curriculum and pedagogical problems that are more than personality differences, but which are substantive differences over quality and the curricular routes to it. One contingent has for years resisted a robust MA program while growing the undergrad programs. The media production faculty and the comm arts faculty are at odds over definitions of scholarship, now a decade+ rift encouraged by bad management and poor leadership, which produced a smorgasboard curriculum fragmenting the department and its students. That failure to provide a common curricular experience for all students has confused students as faculty splintered over such issues. This led to the administration placing the department into a receivership with a dean-appointed interim head for two years, to end with a new chair from a national search. Meanwhile, the department is developing new plans to keep the department whole in spite of efforts to split the department. Over time, the department must make itself into better interconnections internally and with the new home for the department in the College of Arts and Sciences. In transition with histories to learn from and put to bed, I wouldn't recommend Boise State at this point in time to anyone in terms of long-term employment until the department knows what it is. In the social sciences in particular, this is a university to fear.

Indiana University - Purdue University, Fort Wayne (IPFW) Physics (Fall 2017) If possible, run! Run with a bag-pack full of energy drinks and never stop till you are so far away, you can't think of IPFW! Yup! A lot of politics is going on in the department - they brag about how the geology department was completely useless and they shut it down. During the interview, the chair and other faculty members (except one, whom I mention later) were conversing with me with their eyes on their cellphones. The department-chair asked me questions without even looking at me - constantly fidgeting with his cellphone and replying to emails. The search-chair on the other hand was comparetively nicer to me, and hospitable. Over all, they are very unprofessional, and said a lot of "evil" things behind each other's back! An example is, "ABC is late -- aah, he must be handling his children. He has another one on his way in spite of being unable to handle all the previous ones!" or "XYZ is not coming today. He is not feeling well. Isn't it strange how he falls ill just after the finals? I wonder if he is really ill?" During the mock-lecture, I was interrupted so many times by faculty members, I couldn't get past 25% of the lecture. And the questions (they were acting as students) they asked were incredibly stupid - no college student (or even an elementary school student) in their right mind would ask such questions. When a folly in one of their questions was pointed out, instead of admitting it, the faculty member said something nonsensical. During both the lectures (research and physics), one of the students had a cooing baby in the lecture hall who had to be constantly consoled, and (during the research talk) another faculty member had his leg on the desk with shoe pointing directly at me. A lot of bragging is going on - they were very arrogant, and no one is ever on time (except the search-chair). It was a very unpleasant experience over all. It felt as if I was invited to be insulted and looked-down upon. If possible, avoid it at all cost. And if that was not enough, this university is going through a political crisis - its splitting up into two different universities - Indiana University FW and Purdue University FW (with physics dept going to Purdue). I must point out that their newest/youngest faculty member was professional and very pleasant to converse with, I had a great time interacting with him.

Kansas Wesleyan University Admin/all hirings (May/June 2013) Had a very pleasant phone and campus interview and was offered the job (instructor, non-TT) the day after I returned home. I asked for the details of the offer in writing and requested one week to consider the offer. The written offer never came and when I inquired about it almost a week later, I was told they were waiting for my verbal acceptance. However, my questions were answered in a phone call. I asked for an additional two days to consider while I made one more campus visit (already scheduled). After deciding that I could not wait for the other school to decide, I contacted KWU to inform them I would be mocing forward with their offer and inquired about the possibility of a salary increase. One day later, I was informed that they had offered the position to the other candidate, and when I asked, I was told that they had interpreted my salary request as an ultimatum. However I was never given a chance to "take it or leave it" on their initial offer.

I have no complaints about the faculty I met while there, but beware the provost. If you get an offer, expect to be pressured into a decision quickly and don't count on being able to negotiate.

Lycoming College Modern Language Studies (Spring 2019 phone interview) -- The search committee was rude and unprofessional. It was obvious that a particular candidate was favored and everyone else were warm bodies for HR. Aside from rushing the interview without having introduced themselves or having asked me about my background, etc., the search chair was rude and dismissive from the very beginning. None of them seemed to know who I was, i.e., name, institution, experience, nor did they seem to care. Moreover, there were equally snippy exchanges between the search committee members; one of the junior professors let it slip that they lied in the original announcement about both the teaching load and the opportunities for teaching upper-division courses.
Blackburn College English (Spring 2019) The department itself seems lovely, though small -- you'd expect this of a tiny college. Negotiations, though, were a nightmare: upon the initial offer, I was told that there's zero room to move on salary and then was given four days (over a holiday weekend) to think about it, leaving no time for my partner and I to make travel plans for her to see the place. Two days after the offer, I emailed to ask for a) the MLA's two-week window of time; b) an insurance plan that would cover my fiancee until our wedding [two months after the semester begins]; and c) a phone call to discuss what options might exist for my eventual spouse to find a staff position at the college. A) was sort of met -- the window was extended from four days to eight; b) was outright denied; and c), instead of a phone call, it was suggested that she make an hour-long commute to the nearest city as they couldn't make up a position for her. We did some research into open positions, she applied to one, and then I pointed this out in an email seven days post-initial offer, saying that while I didn't expect them to create a position, one existed that's perfect for her and that finding her a job in this tiny town was my priority. The reply came that evening that a guarantee could not be made and that applications would not be reviewed for another three weeks; five hours later (at 11pm), the offer was rescinded. I had not replied in the interim.

I can't say I'm surprised that they're having trouble filling this position.

(Spring 2019) I was ghosted after the campus interview, still haven't been reimbursed for travel expenses. There was a strong indication that the college is in serious financial trouble. Whoever takes this job will be responsible for installing the fourth First Year Experience program in four years. From the above candidate's experience, I would imagine they're looking for someone desperate to railroad into a very bad position.

Lake Erie College

General: this school has no departments and only one faculty member per subject (e.g., "history," not "American history" or "European history") (Summer 2013) If you value academic integrity and freedom, this is not the college for you. Increasing enrollments is a huge push here, and over 60% of the enrollment at this school comes from athletes, even though the size of the school prohibits any serious athletics standing. The faculty and admin have struck a "deal" with the athletics departments to maintain college enrollments: athletes can't fail courses. Instead, no matter their performance or attendance, they are given grades of "C-." This "deal," I was told, is an effort to stop the flow of always-successful grade challenges that result from the loss of athletics eligibility and GPA requirements. The school has absolutely no online platforms (Blackboard, ANGEL, etc), has antiquated on-campus electronics, does not participate in the OhioLINK library system (one of only two colleges in the state that doesn't), and provides no teaching support (no sabbaticals or course releases, plus expected course overloads each semester). Not only is the faculty pay among the lowest in the state (average of $39k), the school provides no research support in time off or in funding, though for tenure one is required to publish a rather amorphous "something." Tenure is based mostly on teaching evaluations; however, these are completed online, and most of the students do not complete them unless they do not like the course and want to complain (or so I was informed). In terms of the on-campus interview, it was run very poorly and seemed designed to make a candidate as uncomfortable as possible. In the space of a few days prior to the interview, I was first told to prepare a teaching presentation to present to a group of faculty and staff who could pretend to be students, or maybe not, or whatever, it doesn't matter; then that was changed to a research talk about "anything"; then that was changed to whatever I wanted it to be, maybe a combination research and teaching talk, maybe to students or to faculty, or both, but whatever is fine, it doesn't matter. (It probably goes without saying that for three solid days I had to change and practice different presentations because of these last-minute contradictions.) Once on campus, I was left waiting in many hallways, outside of many locked doors, and at one point had to knock loudly three times over a few minutes before being let into a room where the search committee was waiting for me midday. Most of the search committee was "out of town or otherwise unavailable" during my visit, and those who were available had nothing but terrible things to say about the students overall (the bitterness was pervasive). One SC member was openly and aggressively hostile both to me directly and about the students, for whom s/he seemed to have nothing but contempt. Lake Erie College is, apparently, the college a student attends when community college seems too low-brow but no place else will take the kid (it's a pay and play establishment). The visit was brief, but included three meals, two with only an hour between them. The meals were well attended (unlike everything else), but the conversation was clique-ish and exclusionary with no questions directed to me, suggesting that the committee was merely using the opportunity to grab free nosh. The college-related questions I asked during the meals were ever-so-briefly answered but largely ignored. Regarding location, the campus is small and, for what it is, beautiful, but it's in the middle of uneducated redneck country, and that shows in the school's interactions with the neighborhood. None of the faculty and staff I spoke to lives anywhere near the college, and most expressed significant distaste for the area. The faculty are all older (a wrung-out 40 being the youngest, with most faculty in their late 40s, 50s, and 60s); if you are a dynamic and/or young(er) PhD, there is nothing here for you. On the plus side, there is one truly sharp female dean with what sound like great plans for the college; however, she spent significant time telling me that her plans will not be realized because of the tremendous faculty resistance and the absolute lack of funds to be spent on anything but athletics. Perhaps her frustration represents a reason for the recent exodus of faculty to admin positions at brighter and better schools. Using this one as a springboard to another job might be tough, especially if you want to move up in a faculty position. Both the lack of research support and the overload teaching will inhibit one's ability to gain employment at a better school with stricter publication expectations. In all, I am appalled by the truly terrible hiring processes exhibited here, and I am embarrassed for the search committee. If you interviewed here and didn't get the position, consider it a bullet dodged!

Ditto some of the above. Plus, the search committee members asked me whether I had children and, if so, what ages. One SC member had a hostile retort to every answer I gave during the interview, yet she offered no input herself. This was a strange and uncomfortable process quite unlike any other search I've experienced. I went with another job.

Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) College of Business and Management, College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences *2013

It is called the College of Business and Management (CBM) but it should be called Mismanagement
This is an odd and incredibly dysfunctional University. It operates more like a High School
All tenured faculty appear to be members of the original faculty when it was a community college in the 1960's. Most are in their 80's -- which is okay unless you are looking for friends to play golf or tennis.
They are constantly recruiting new faculty. The turnover rate is incredible. They put you on the "tenure track", but apparently the track is a big wheel-- kind of like what guinea pigs run on. No one gets tenure. Most gladly leave before they have to apply. Those that apply get denied. I guess that is how they keep their costs down. Keeping the quality of the faculty down does not appear to be a concern. Actually, looking at class schedules over the last 2 years I noted that the majority of classes are taught by adjuncts for a few hundred dollars per course.
Students are disgruntled. They have increased the student body enormously over the last few years but have not increased the number of class or section offerings so students cannot finish their degrees in 4 years. Many required classes are offered but then cancelled before they begin.
"They have increased the student body enormously over the last few years but have not increased the number of class or section offerings so students cannot finish their degrees in 4 years." This is simply untrue. Current enrollment is under 10k students, which is actually lower than it has been. Current enrollment is about the same as it was several years back. Where are you getting your information?
No culture and no major league sports unless you want to drive 2.5 hours each way.
Horrible place. Take that job at McDonalds and wait for an offer from a real academic institution.

[Different poster from above]. I caught a similar vibe when I interviewed there a few years ago in a different part of the university. The faculty I interacted with were professional for the most part (and definitely not in their 80s), but they didn't seem to have a good sense of what they were looking for or a coherent explanation of where the university was headed. The provost lectured me for 5 minutes on why they were not a research-intensive institution.

[Yet another poster] My campus interview was poorly handled by young and inexperienced faculty, left to flounder because senior dept members were clearly just marking time to retirement. The SCC had never been on an SC before and broke all kinds of HR rules, even gave me a rundown of the other candidates' performance and everyone's rankings at different points in the interview process! This was topped off by a job offer and negotiation that were bungled when the dept chair and SC gave conflicting advice, and the administration behaved in a weirdly paranoid manner when they found out I had other offers. The provost likes to play hardball with job offers, and outright said at the interview he'll just rescind one if a candidate asks for more than a week or time to finish interviews. My read was that they're so afraid of a failed search, they'll take any candidate who's a sure thing rather than give a top candidate time to negotiate and make a considered decision. Because they're convinced no candidate would pick them over anyone else, they see any negotiation as stalling tactics or gaming the system to increase 'the offer the candidate is going to take in the end'. Overall impression: last resort only. A bare nudge up from a community college in terms of teaching load, quality of students and any kind of research life. For the record: this is not sour grapes. I accepted a better offer and am happy there. But candidates dealing with SVSU as their only offer should be aware how weird the administrators are when it comes to negotiating.

[New Post Feb 2016] A few years ago they rescinded their offer to me when I tried to negotiate for a little travel money. It was a total nightmare, and they were very unprofessional about it - suddenly no one would take my phone calls or answer emails. The search committee and department head that had assured me negotiating for small things was fine. But when I asked, the dean's response was to rescind the offer. Looks like the search failed in the end, so maybe more was going on than I knew. Still, BEWARE if you get an offer from here.

(Do you want MORE? - S.)
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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Re: Academic Jobs Wiki "Universities to Fear" page

Post by ericbarbour » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:53 pm

thanks, that's plllllenty.....

None of it surprises me. Even when I was in college in the late 70s there was plenty of dysfunction in the "land of higher learning". The major state university I went to was a joke, spending fortunes on massive new buildings and facilities but hiring the scrapings of actual instructors to justify their existence. I've heard that since then the enrollment has almost doubled, but the faculty has even gotten more underpaid and incompetent.

Also: Furman was a massive joke for decades. Some employers would not accept an employee with a degree from Furman. But now, oh well, they're like "#2 in the nation for academic rigor" or something. The Wikipedia article has the usual stink of a paid editor. ... /RobertM87

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