Faculty searches underway

As the school year winds down and students prepare for May Term and summer, Simpson College is wrapping up searches for new faculty members that will begin their employment in the fall.

“When a faculty member resigns in a department, the chair of the department asks for a replacement,” Steve Griffith, senior vice president and academic dean, said. “Sometimes a department wants to hire an additional faculty member. In both cases, I talk to President (John) Byrd and a decision is made.”

Resignations and retirements are just two reasons to look for new faculty, according to Griffith.

“Over time, the faculty normally grows by about one faculty line per year,” Griffith said. “In recent years, we have added two additional lines per year to prepare to staff the new curriculum.”

Griffith said most faculty searches begin in the fall and are usually completed by the spring. Other times, a search will begin in the winter or spring due to resignations or retirements.

For the upcoming academic year, Griffith said there were nine faculty positions that needed to be filled. Of those searches, three are still ongoing. The Department of Psychology is close to completing their search for a new faculty member, and the Department of Communication and Media Studies is close to hiring a new student media specialist. The Department of Biology has just begun to search for a temporary replacement that is expected to serve a one-year term.

The departments of Chemistry, English, Sociology and Criminal Justice, Sports Science and Health Education have each filled one position. Two faculty members have also been hired to teach accountingDon Evans, associate professor of psychology, said that department is close to hiring a new faculty member.

“We don’t have a formal announcement yet,” Evans said. “We had two candidates come to campus, so essentially our search is still in progress.”

This is the second time this year that a search was conducted for the Department of Psychology. Evans said the first search was conducted during the fall.

“We searched in the fall, but did not find a candidate for the position,” Evans said. “We opened the search in the spring, and just completed that process.”

Evans said this search for a new faculty member was brought about by the retirement of Professor Carl Halgren.

Griffith said when searching for faculty, the department posts ads seeking applicants. These ads go in journals, on Simpson’s Web site and on Simpson’s campus itself. A committee selects people to interview, and from there, the candidates then come and visit campus.

“They meet with faculty and students, do a teaching demonstration, and then we make a decision,” Griffith said. “I offer the contract by phone and confirm with a paper contract.”

When faculty searches are conducted, they come from a pool that spans across the nation. Griffith said that some faculty searches will have over 100 applicants, while others will have just a few at 10.

Evans said his department relies on feedback from students regarding candidates.

“We solicit student input, which is an important part of our department,” Evans said.

Senior Mauricio Marquez once participated in a faculty search for a new French professor.

“Since the department’s really small, I liked the idea that I would meet the candidates,” Marquez said. “I felt like it allowed us to have a really good say in how our education was shaped.”

Griffith said that in the event the candidate selected by the search committee declines the position, that doesn’t mean the search failed.”Hiring is not an exact science and so it is usually the case that any of the top 10 finalists will do a fine job,” Griffith said. “If we don’t think there is someone in the applicant pool that is a good match for Simpson College, we will hire someone temporarily to fill the opening.”

Griffith said that Simpson will work very hard to find the best candidate, regardless of how long it takes.

“We have very high standards for all of our faculty, and we never want to settle for someone just to end the search,” Griffith said. “We want the very best and are willing to wait if we have to.”