Friday, January 07, 2011

AHA Memories

I'm not at the AHA Conference this year - woot! Ur... not that going to the AHA conference is painful - but it usually is. I'm sort of at the meeting in spirit, however, since I had to write a report to be presented at the board meeting of one of my organizations. Hopefully, there won't be big questions about it.

I am glad that HNN does great little updates about what is going on at the meeting. It's nice to see what I am/not missing. Unfortunately, the news on day one sounds particularly painful with a horrible market awaiting those people who are job hunting. It does give me high hopes that we'll be successful in our search and maybe get someone so good that we can make a pitch to the administration to turn it into a tenure track job.

The other thing that not being at the AHA Conference allows me to do is reflect back on some of my (least) favorite conference memories:

1. Skipping sessions one day to try and get into the debates being held in about Clinton's impeachment. (I was unsuccessful.)
2. Being 15 minutes late to my first EVER job interview at the AHA. :(
3. Being on a panel with some great but oblivious guys while being 8.5 months pregnant.
4. Running into that jerk from grad school and having him admit that he was a jerk in grad school.
5. Hanging out at a bar with my advisor from grad school and another of her former students and gossiping about department politics while slowly getting drunk.
6. Hanging out with old grad school friends to watch our ph.d. institution get trounced in a bowl game.
7. Attending an anti-war sing-a-long hosted by the peace history society.

I'm still trying to decide whether to apply to present a paper at the conference in 2012. Chicago in the winter really isn't much fun, but it is close to my old stomping grounds so there is a chance of running into lots of former friends.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

You Want Me to Chair the Search Committee - Seriously?!

For the first time in WAY TOO long, my department gets to conduct a search. I was very psyched about it at first. After all what better indication of my accomplishments as chair than attaining this 'plum' for the department. My joy, unfortunately, quickly faded. Just as I was getting ready to ask one of my senior colleagues to run the search, the Dean informed me that I should be the chair of the committee. *Sigh*

So, like any good academic, I started my preparations for this new task by doing research about what makes a good search and what pitfalls I should avoid. I talked to the Dean, talked to the last person in our department who chaired a search, talked to the Human Resources staff, and talked to the department secretary. That got me through writing and posting the ad. Now, however, I face a big list of deadlines that have to be set, schedules that have to be worked around, and a host of other details to take care of. Luckily, the Chronicle has a few articles that might help.

1. Attention Search Committees
2. The Slip Ups of Search Committees
3. How to Conduct a Successful Search
4. How to Conduct a Successful Search II

All this information has at least given some things to think about, including two things I never considered before. 1. Having some sort of committee-wide 'grading rubric' for candidates (3 points if you are from a top 20 institution, 2 if you are from a top 50, 1 if you are in the top 100). I'm not sure about this, but I'm at least going to look into it more. And 2. Wiki Jobs for History. Very cool for candidates and not so bad for me. I can at least see where in the process other institutions are and how our position/search stacks up against others being conducted this year.