An almost blank slate

In the United States, it is difficult for me to imagine beginnings. What was it like when the first college created the first policies? How did a person or group of people first decide that faculty members should teach xxxx hours a week? How did expectations about faculty research evolve over time? I’m sure that an historian of higher education has discovered the answers. But I haven’t read that account, but I wish I had, because I’m involved with many beginnings at CSJMM. A small group of people have the challenge of creating precedents, and for me, this challenge is both exciting and scary.

Of course, we’re not working in a vacuum. In fact, we’re referring to the faculty manuals of several universities, including American University of Beirut, American University of Bulgaria, American University of Cairo, Central European University, and my employer—the University of South Carolina. Why these schools? I don’t have a solid answer because I don’t know which schools would be peer institutions. Of course there are other schools in Georgia that have a journalism and mass communications master’s degree program, but I’m not sure if we want to emulate them. We should look at European universities because Georgia higher education follows the Bologna process (, but we should also look at American universities because a lot of the donor money supporting CSJMM comes from the United States government. Then there’s the issue of size. CSJMM is very small—it will soon have 4 faculty members and it currently has 146 students. In order to find a good match in terms of size, American-influence and European-influence, we chose the peer group mentioned above.  I’m looking for additional suggestions, however, so please write a comment on my blog or send me an email:

Since we are about to hire three faculty members, our first policy is “How to hire a faculty member.” My colleagues at the SJMC will recognize the policy.

  1. The dean asks the rector for an additional faculty position or for permission to replace someone who left or retired.
  2. Faculty members discuss the school’s hiring priorities.
  3. The dean forms a “search committee” to hire a faculty member. This committee includes at least one faculty member, one student, and one outsider. This committee begins by deciding on the wording for the advertisement.
  4. A staff member places the advertisement in appropriate locations. Usually potential applicants are given 2-4 months to apply.
  5. The dean encourages the faculty to call prospective applicants because it is better to actively pursue qualified people than to place an advertisement and then wait to see who applies. The dean also asks faculty members to spread the word via listservs and word of mouth.
  6. A staff person creates a folder for each applicant. In the folder he/she puts the person’s cover letter, CV, and any other requested materials. For example, the advertisement may request a portfolio of work if the school will hire a professional person.
  7. After the deadline for applying, the committee reads all of the material in all of the folders. The committee narrows the pool of applicants to its top three choices.
  8. The committee invites these three people to the school for a day-long series of interviews and other activities.
  9. Before the interviewees arrive, they receive a document that explains the school’s expectations of all of its faculty members. For example, this document lists the number of hours faculty members teach, the school’s requirements for research/scholarship/professional activities, and the type of service activities it expects from faculty.
  10. The committee creates a 1-page evaluation form, which includes both open and closed questions. The committee will use these forms to help it evaluate the candidates.
  11. An itinerary is created and circulated for each interviewee’s visit. The itinerary includes: a) meeting with faculty members; b) meeting with students; c) teaching one hour of a real class; d) making a one-hour presentation of their research scholarship/professional activities; and 3) meeting with dean.
  12. The search committee asks faculty and students to complete the evaluation forms.
  13. The search committee discusses the three people who interviewed and makes a recommendation to the dean. The dean generally accepts the faculty’s choice, but he/she has the power to make the final decision.
  14. The dean/rector then calls the applicant and negotiates a salary and benefits. If negotiations are successful, the person is hired. If not, the dean goes back to the search committee and faculty and asks for a second choice.

About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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