Faculty Hiring
         West Chester University

 Faculty Search Committee

Members of the search committee are chosen by the department chairperson.  Choosing the right search committee members will increase the committee’s capacity and overall potential for a successful search. 

Characteristics of the Best Search Committee Member:

  • Sufficient technical expertise in the discipline
  • Detailed understanding of the position being recruited
  • Time to invest on the search committee and throughout the search process
  • Ability to work with a high level of confidentiality
  • Ability to work collaboratively as a contributing member of a team
  • Capacity to represent the university in a positive light

finger pointerTips:

  1. Select an odd number of search committee members to alleviate tie voting.
  2. Make certain that each prospective search committee member has the time to serve on a search committee and get their schedule for the next two months.  It is important to have a plan and have dates scheduled early on in the process.
  3. If insufficient numbers of department members are available to serve on a search committee, the department chairperson should consult the Dean of the College for recommendations. 
  4. If a prospective member of a search committee will have a conflict of interest he/she should make the conflict known to the department chairperson and excuse himself or herself from participation on the committee. 
  5. Behind every good search committee is a good search secretary.
  6. Consultation for search committees is available upon request from both the Office of Social Equity and the Office of Human Resources before or at any time during a search.
  7. The charge of the search committee must be clear and precise.

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 First Meeting of the Search Committee

A successful search is much like a rewarding vacation.  Good planning has a lot to do with the outcome.   No committee has greater ability to make profound and substantive changes in an academic department than a search committee.  What you put into the experience, has a direct relationship to what comes out of it.

Finger Point Tips:

  1. Create clear roles for members, agree on committee ground rules, establish timelines for the search, and review search procedures at the beginning of the process.  This will alleviate ambiguity, which can haunt a search.
  2. Construct a search timeline by working backward from the day you expect for the search to be completed.
  3. Invite a representative of the Office of Social Equity and the Office of Human Resources to the first search committee meeting.  This can be highly beneficial in clarifying procedures and in preventing potential liability exposures.   

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Developing a Faculty Position Announcement

The text of a Faculty Position Announcement has profound significance in a search, both in terms of creating a quality pool of applicants, and in terms of legal significance when searches are challenged with grievances, administrative charges or civil causes of action.  Typically, the proposed Faculty Position Announcement will be prepared by the Department Chair or the Search Committee; however, the Dean’s and Provost’s Offices also play essential roles as quality control points for providing substantive reviews of the documents before they are approved.

The Office of Social Equity’s Faculty Search and Hiring Procedures Handbook provides a basic template for organizing a Position Announcement.  West Chester University established a Background Check Policy applicable to all West Chester University employee hiring, including faculty.  In order to provide proper notice, all faculty job announcements must include the following language:  “All offers of employment are subject to and contingent upon satisfactory completion of all pre-employment criminal background and consumer reporting checks.”    

finger pointerTips:

  1. Use these Guidelines to see a generic presentation of possible subject-matter to include in a position announcement.
  2. Be precise about ABD language, specifically the deadline for a candidate to complete their Ph.D..
  3. Be clear about appointment rank.  Don’t advertise for an assistant professor when you are willing to bend and make an appointment at the associate professor level if the successful candidate is qualified.
  4. Be clear on what the search committee needs from applicants and when they need it, and make no exceptions.  Incomplete applicant materials make timely and responsible faculty recruiting a nightmare.
  5. Use specific language regarding the prior teaching experience requirements for the position.

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Marketing a Faculty Position

A well-conceived, comprehensive Recruitment Marketing Plan will maximize your chances of achieving a well-rounded applicant pool for your search. 
Good Recruitment Marketing Plans do not rely on a single medium to advertise a faculty vacancy.  Create optimal exposure by using  a combination of traditional print media, professional listserv, discipline-specific professional association journals, mailers, on-line postings by subscriptions to national higher education publications, as well as in-house and State System of Higher Education employment websites.

In the event a foreign national is hired, when the foreign national applies for permanent residency, the University will need to prove to they met the United States Citzenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") requirements for recruitment.  In order for the recruitment process to “count” and be considered valid, the attached guidelines must be met.  Although a foreign national is not always hired, these guidelines are a good practice for every search.  If it is found these requirements were not met, the university would be required to redo the search (repost the position, pay all associated costs, screen the applications, etc.). 
The Office of Social Equity’s Faculty Search and Hiring Procedures Handbook also provides a wide range of diversity recruitment sources for consideration and incorporation into your Recruitment Marketing Plan. 

finger pointerTips:     

  1. Research your ad source to see if they shut down during certain times of year (i.e. the Chronicle shuts down during the holidays each year) so you can plan your ad accordingly.
  2. The University typically posts positions by utilizing the following: higheredjobs.com, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and The Hispanic Outlook. Human Resources will post positions to these resources on behalf of faculty at no cost to the faculty.
  3. Advertising sources vary drastically in how long it takes for a position announcement to go live.  While many on-line services can be posted within 24 hours, print media in particular, follows a publication schedule.  Understanding your search timeline will assist you in determining sources which may or may not be timely in allowing the targeted audience to read and respond to your advertising before you are too far along in the process.
  4. Be aware of the time of year you are posting a position as it can impact the number of applicants (i.e. during the holidays you may receive less applicants due to break, etc.).
  5. Identify on your search timeline when you expect to receive resumes.
  6. Appearance and organization of your advertising are important considerations and they help form an applicant’s first impression of the department, the College and the University.  
  7. Ad work should be consistent among the various media sources you select particularly with the timeline and qualifications. 
  8. Final ad copy should be checked closely for typo’s, misspellings, and accuracy.  Retractions and corrections, once ad work has been published can be costly and lead to delays in republication.   
  9. Selecting electronic media advertising sources which allow you to create hyperlinks back to your institution, college, department or full position announcements may allow you to use less text and save costs.

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Screening Applications

Faculty application and curriculum vitas (CV’s) can be voluminous and time-consuming to review.   Applicants for regular faculty vacancies can often run into the hundreds per search.
While reviewing the application, resume, CV, cover letter and any additional materials, use the position announcement as a springboard of guidelines.  When internal candidates are in the search, the knowledge of the internal candidate’s work at WCU is also fair game, and can cut both ways.  A screening criteria can be constructed from the position announcement and scored based on the available information on each applicant.   Criteria should be job-related.    
Determine up front if incomplete applications will be considered or will efforts be made to obtain from the applicant, additional information to complete the application?  There is no right answer, but this is a bridge to cross at the beginning of the screening phase.

The following steps can be used or modified for screening reviews:   

Step 1:  Review the applicant’s work history or career path.   Where does the applicant stack up in terms of teaching experience requirements or preferences?    How on point is the applicant’s teaching experience in relation to the courses he or she will likely be teaching?  In terms of the work history in general, does the career path reflect a logical progression?  Is the career moving in the right direction?  Have there been frequent and rapid job changes?  Are there unexplained gaps in employment?  What is the relative quality of the institutions in which the applicant has taught?

Step 2:   Review the applicant’s academic credentials.  Does the applicant possess the requisite academic credentials required or preferred in the position announcement?  Are the institutions from which the applicant required the degrees accredited in the major discipline?  What is the relative quality of the institutions from which the applicant graduated?   What academic honors or other academic achievements did the applicant receive in his or her respective degree programs?   Is there further education in progress?  

Step 3:   Review the applicant’s scholarship.   Scholarship may be measured in terms of relevance, breadth, volume, stature and quality.  

Step 4:    Review the applicant’s service experiences.    Service may be measured in terms of relevance, breadth, volume, stature and quality, as well.

Step 5:   Review letters of recommendation(if available).   Use these letters to buttress the representations found in other materials in the application.   Consider the length of time and quality of interactions between the applicant and the reference.  Consider the closeness of the reference to the applicant’s experiences most relevant to the work he or she would be performing here.  Be astute with respect to qualifier language by the recommender, specifically: what is said, how it is said and what is not said.

Step 6:  Affinity  to the West Chester University Mission.   Is there evidence that the applicant can embrace our mission and have the capacity to convey it effectively to others?   The cover letter is a logical place to find signs of this.

Step 7:    Miscellaneous considerations.

  • Look at the relative clarity of expression, as well as attention to detail demonstrated in the absence of misspellings and grammar in the applicant’s writing.
  • Look for completeness in the materials requested.

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