There’s something deeply enervating about being the gatekeeper to a new life for someone; even though I do have informed preferences about which instructors would be the best fit for my institution, it still pains me to have to be part of the process that prevents some people from realizing their ambition of being a college teacher.
Part of this probably is my own feelings of inadequacy; every time I serve on one of these committees, I’m amazed that I got through the process. The fact that I have tenure and that I’m generally appreciated as in instructor is testament to something, but it still seems fairly unlikely to me, given the vast number of unemployed academics out there, that I was lucky enough to be hired in the first place.
It’s particularly difficult trying to get a sense of what the person is going to be like from his or her materials; in many cases, I wonder whether we would do as good a job in finding candidates to interview if we just chose from applications randomly.
That said, our committee ended up with a couple of candidates we all really liked and have our fingers crossed that one of them at least will be our new colleague next fall.
I remember with great fondness the summer after I’d been hired before I started my fulltime position; because I had a real job waiting for me in September, I was able, for the first time in many years, tell people that I wasn’t unemployed, I was on vacation.
My mom, in particular, got a great big kick out of that.