Thursday, May 22, 2008

JCC’s Self-Defeating Hiring Habits: “Oh, How Will We Ever Stop the Brain Drain of Upstate NY?”

I recently discovered that an English teacher at Jefferson Community College recently jumped ship – within a year after being hired by the English Department.

And get this -- this is the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW that an English teacher at JCC jumped ship within a year of being hired.

These two professors had one distinct characteristic in common: they were both hired from out of state.

The professor that abandoned JCC in 07 was from California, and professor that recently abandoned JCC was from Texas. Could they both not handle the North Country winters? Were they both unaccustomed to dealing with a large number of military students? Were they both not inspired by this area’s distinct beauty and no-nonsense people?

Just within my small circle of friends and family, I know four individuals - all four were born and raised in Northern NY, all four earned multiple graduate degrees from prestigious Northern NY universities - and all four at one time interviewed for a teaching position at JCC, yet all four were denied the position. ALL FOUR.

And yet, still smarting from their hire from California going AWOL the year before, the supposedly “capable, competent” English Department hiring committee chooses to give a job to an eccentric from Texas. And then, after the Texas professor finishes his final spring class, he ungraciously doesn’t appear on the JCC campus again.

JCC hiring committees have had so many chances to hire talented, overqualified local professionals – yet they keeping thinking it wiser to import professionals from distant lands.

And then their decisions ultimately result in a huge waste of time and money for the school.

Why? Do they need to fill a quota of out-of-state professionals? Are they implementing the wrong hiring strategies, and stuck in a cycle of self-defeating hiring habits?

Not only is JCC worsening upstate NY’s “brain drain” problem - with our talented scholars having to look out of state for jobs – but homegrown talent might possibly reverse JCC’s lagging student enrollment. It might be inspiring to know that your professor grew up in the same small town as you. Also, a homegrown instructor could easily bring North Country references into their instruction, effortlessly connecting a North Country student's everyday life to the lessons.

But first, the JCC hiring committees need to break free from their self-defeating hiring practices.

Most importantly, if we can’t trust these teacher committees to recognize talent in their hiring pool, how can we trust them to recognize talent in our students?


Anonymous said...

I'm also someone who applied for a job at JCC twice, and both times lost it to an interviewee from out-of-state. I have graduate degrees from SUNY schools, more than a decade of college teaching experience, great course evaluations, excellent recommendations, publications -- in short, everything you'd want in a community college instructor. Interestingly enough, I'm also a graduate of JCC. When I was interviewed I got the sense that the hiring commitee was completely unprepared to interview me, and it was pretty clear that they hadn't even bothered to read my application materials. (This was confirmed by both of my reference writers, who said that the representative from JCC who called them knew nothing about me and asked "ridiculous" questions.) What's going on with JCC? Why this bias against SUNY educations? What incentive is there for someone like me to stay in NYS when institutions in other states are actually competing for candidates with NYS educations? If we don't start doing something about the brain drain everyone will be leaving NY for greener pastures. Every single local friend I knew in college has moved to the South or the West Coast. All we'll be left with here in Jefferson County is a failing agricultural industry, low-paying retail jobs, and Fort Drum.

Anonymous said...

Bringing JCC's stupid hiring decisions to the wider public is long overdue. Thank you, Stump Speech.

I grew up in Henderson, attended JCC, and earned a bachelor and masters degree at Clarkson, but I also was denied a teaching position at JCC.

So I live and teach in PA. And right now, I'm home visiting family in Henderson. Whenever I visit home, I'm reminded of JCC hiring someone from Utah instead of me. It would have been nice if I could've stayed in Upstate NY.

I agree with the Comment #1. I'll never forget how unprepared the hiring committe was, and how they seemed to have no idea what they were doing.

NorthCountryLiberal said...

I attended a graduation ceremony not too many years ago and the program had a list of faculty and their credentials. I remember remarking to my wife how a disproportionate number of the faculty are "locals", educated in NNY.

I believe that the faculty of any college should be as diverse as possible; race, culture, politic, religion, sex, and age, and goegraphic identity. If it is not, the college is severely limiting the scope of ideas they can offer.

I couldn't find a list of faculty for JCC on the internet, but I'll bet you could get one from JCC Acministration. If you do, let us know what you find, SS.

Dan Francis said...

"Brain drain" from JCC?

I've spoken, written and advocated stopping it the best way I know how: Having a 4-year SUNY College at Watertown.

I started my effort in 1995 and ever since continue to be laughed at - "We need our JCC - that's all we need. Kids can go to Canton, Potsdam or Oswego (or the two private schools nearby there, too)," they say.

Yes, they can and they do; and they usually don't come back and when they go there, their money goes there; and when Mom and Pop visit there, they spend their money there, too.

We have a need here and yet manny keep their collective heads stuck in the proverbial sand - but, remember what is exposed when your head is in the sand?

That's right...