Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not as Much as You Think

In my previous post I asked the question “Do Elites Think.” I asked facetiously knowing that they do think, at least some. The point I was making is that they are enamored of institutional authority -- Harvard is automatically better than Florida and the recommendation of a Harvard professor more reliable than a Florida professor.

If you have followed this latest series of posts, you know that the UF hiring committee elected to invite exclusively graduates from elite schools plus a couple of people from expensive schools. This is a policy that makes no sense for any school and especially for schools at Florida’s level. One has only to look at the past and current members of the UF faculty who would have been passed over if the policy were in effect at the time of their hiring...

The first interviewee was a Princeton/Harvard product who was touted as having over 20 interviews. In fact, according to the candidate’s Harvard reference, she had 28 callbacks within three days of the hiring conventions. (For those not familiar with the law school system, there is a 3 day meeting of candidates and law school hiring committees. The committees interview about 30 people and some are invited back to campus.)

For those who rely on others and are drawn to bandwagons, this must mean the candidate could not miss. If others want her, surely we want her too. Evidently the Dean and Committee members stressed the number of callbacks as an indicator of how great the candidate must be. Other hiring committees might have read the scholarship, talked to the candidate longer than a 30 minutes, and discussed her with contacts other than the ones identified by the candidate. Some or all of this was done but all in the giant shadow of Princeton/Harvard and 28 callbacks in 3 days. No one dare disagree with Harvard credentials, Harvard references, and 28 other schools. (Did I mention that Harvard profs evidently don’t need to worry about the truth. After all, they create “truth.)

To make a long story short, the actually number of call backs appears to be “closer to 10.” Although the information comes from the candidate herself, I am not sure why it is not an exact number. Could 10 really be 8? And, will it be announced in a few days that it was 5 or even 0. Who knows? More importantly what happens now? Does exactly the same candidate become less desirable?

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