Psychology department still looking to hire

by Kelly Gerdts

Despite the current financial troubles, Simpson’s psychology department is still looking to hire a new professor.

According to Sal Meyers, head of the psychology department, there should be four full-time, tenure track professors instead of the three they have now.

“We’re not growing as a result of this,” Meyers said. “It’s not like we haven’t hired somebody full time to cover courses for us in the mean time. She (Sonja Crain) did not apply for the full time position, she’s not eligible. To get a tenure track position you have to have the top degree in the field which in psych is a PhD. It’s not like we’re spending any more money next year if we have filled this position than we are spending this year.”

The search has been going on for the last three years with Simpson running ads in the Association for Psychological Science Observer and the American Psychological Association Monitor for an assistant professor in either biological or developmental psychology.

“We only ran them electronically this year,” Meyers said. “We usually run them in print and electronically but that’s more expensive.”

Advertising the job is not the only place that the search committee tried to keep the costs down.

“This year in particular because of the financial challenges of the college we worked very hard to do it as inexpensively as possible,” Meyers said. “We did phone interviews with people in the fall semester but then interviewed them this semester. If you want to bring somebody in next week it’s much more expensive to fly them in than if you’ve got at least two weeks lead time. You can get a much better fare.”

When deciding who to bring to campus, the search committee goes through all the applications to find those who meet the criteria then sort through those for ones that really impress them.

“We did phone interviews with all the people we thought looked good and based on that came a short list of three people to interview and invited them to campus,” Meyers said.

Those three candidates were interviewed at the beginning of this semester. Last year the department interviewed six candidates, five of who were offered the job. All five of them declined for various reasons including money and location.

“We haven’t had anybody that we’ve interviewed in the past couple years that had any reason to want to be in Iowa or the Midwest,” Meyers said. “I’m feeling more optimistic this year that we will be successful because all three people that we’ve interviewed this year happen to have connections to the Midwest and two have connections to Iowa.”

The interview process is an all day event for the candidates that everyone can be involved in.

“Each semester two or three candidates visit Simpson College to eat lunch with students, go through various interviews, learn more about the programs and curriculum at Simpson, and teach a model class,” senior Andrea Niebuhr said. “All students currently in psychology classes, are pursuing a major or minor in psychology are invited to attend, and essentially the whole campus is able to come. A number of psychology professors offer extra credit to students to attend and actively participate in these model classes.”

Regardless of the time and money spent on the search, finding someone to fill this position is important to the psychology department.

“I think Simpson is doing a good job searching for the best teacher who will be the most available as well as capable of excelling in and furthering our psychology curriculum,” junior Brooke Johnson said.

The search committee met on Thursday to decide if they wanted to offer the assistant professor position to any of the three candidates that interviewed on campus in the last few weeks.