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The inside Story on Faculty Recruiting

March 30, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 13

Start preparing early in the game. Differentiate yourself from your adviser and your colleagues. Network, network, and network some more. These recommendations were among the insights gleaned by graduate students and postdocs hoping to become chemistry professors at a symposium on recruiting faculty held at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Anaheim, Calif., taking place March 28 to April 1.

The panel discussion on Sunday was the inaugural event in ACS's Academic Employment Initiative (AEI), an experimental program championed by ACS President Charles P. Casey to broaden the process by which faculty members in the chemical sciences are hired.

"The success of higher education in the U.S. depends critically on the quality and the variety of the faculty," Casey told a packed room of more than 100 people. "Right now, approximately 700 chemists are hunting for jobs in academia. Ensuring their success is the goal of AEI and this symposium."

In the current hiring process, Casey pointed out, chemistry departments rely heavily on the paper portfolios of applicants. The process has proved discouraging to many young women, minorities, and candidates from less prestigious universities. To give recruiters an opportunity to cast a broader net, Casey is sponsoring an AEI poster session at the fall national meeting in Philadelphia, which will be held Aug. 22 to 26. Candidates can present their research, while department representatives can meet face-to-face with many more applicants than they could afford to bring to their campuses for interviews.

In Anaheim, four senior faculty members and four recently hired professors described how the hiring process currently works. The panel members on the hiring side of the equation stressed that they look for evidence of an excellent teaching and research record, conference presentations, journal publications, the ability to solicit external funds, and the potential for a candidate's research to attract students.

The recently hired panel members underscored the need for candidates to begin early in their careers to identify their own goals and to meet as many members of the chemical community as possible. "Preparation and personal contact are important not just for the job search, but for succeeding in your career," said Anna K. Mapp, assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

ACS meetings as well as smaller conferences are good places to network, Mapp and the other panel members noted. Aspiring faculty members who want to take part in the AEI poster networking session in Philadelphia should submit an abstract by April 30 at



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