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?