When I chaired my first faculty search committee, many of the university policies seemed cumbersome to me. The language of the job ad had to be approved, the composition of the applicant pool screened, and each decision accounted for.
In retrospect, I see that the scrutiny served a useful purpose. As psychologists have shown unconscious biases can cloud our judgment of candidates. Also, it’s easy to advertise a job among friends and then shrug when few minorities apply. It requires networking beyond your usual circle and publicizing beyond the usual places to reach a more diverse audience.
The AAMC leadership blog offers some advice for search committee composition. I would add a rule that applies in arts and sciences departments: shy away from hiring your own trainees. Such insular practices denies the department the infusion of new ideas. At the same time, it makes it harder for junior colleagues to feel truly independent as scholars.
Tags: search committee