Some time ago I asked a colleague at Villanova, Dr. Joe DesJardins, about the faculty search process from his perspective, that of a committee member with the dubious honor of wading through thick piles of applications and hours of interviews and deliberations. I particularly asked what it was he was looking for in an applicant. His response spoke to, and shaped, my perspective on what it means to be a faculty member. In sum he said that while all of those interviewed would possess in varying degrees the preferred characteristics of knowledge, skill and professional expertise, he actively sought something extra. He sought evidence in recommendations or diversity of experiences that indicated that the candidate was a "team player." By this he meant that the faculty member would not be so restricted in their endeavors to accomplish well what they were hired for that they could not, or would not, extend their energies to the many tangential aspects of the department that needed to be addressed. "I want someone who will 'be there' when you need them," he said, or at least that's how I recall it. Someone who will accept the course overload, on occassion. Someone who is willing to run to the airport to greet the visiting speaker. One who will assist in the running of special events, projects, ad hoc committees and other duties that the good of the institution might demand. Joe implied that there are always clues, and if you look for them you can identify the applicant that will best serve the institution in all capacities--even those that aren't in the job description.
In light of Joe’s observations I wrote the following to save a search committee the trouble of digging for those clues. I thought the information might be helpful here, should anyone be interested in what the life of a dedicated faculty member might involve. I bet it looks pretty simple from the student's side of the desk...
At various times I have, acted as "custodian" for different philosophy programs -- that is, "running the show" even if only on a temporary basis. In that capacity I served as liaison with the many adjunct faculty, and planned course offerings and coordinated the scheduling of the sections to best accommodate our adjuncts while meeting the needs of the colleges I worked for.
The benefits are not always obvious; for example at Neumann College, my longest affiliation, the various sections of their core philosophy requirements were delivered with the greatest uniformity of objectives, content, methodology and text selection that it ever had, while delivered by up to four different instructors. This was designed by consensus and by collegial dialogue. Many of the adjuncts that have successfully taught here were "lured" here by my invitation, drawing on my knowledge of the best of the qualified pool of experienced instructors in the area. I like to think of the faculty that teach philosophy, both in the traditional and non-traditional programs, as team members, and I worked hard to achieve that sense of community.
I have rarely have duplicate sections of a course in one semester. It may appear that way on paper, but Honors sections of the Core have always demanded more, and different, preparation and co-ordination with the associated Honors courses. They recently have demanded more time too, considering the "team" approach to this synthetic learning experience. Indeed, I will contend that with both of the instructors I teamed-up with, philosophy necessarily was the more malleable discipline, and demanded more flexibility, if not creativity and spontaneity. Further, a variety of upper division courses demands that four different sections be taught: a typical Spring Semester involves two different core courses, an upper-division Business Ethics course, and another course that is allied with the English, Liberal Arts or other major. I pride myself on being willing and prepared to address modus tollens in Critical Thinking, paternalism in Ethics, product liability and risk assessment in Business Ethics, and Emerson's or Coleridge's correlation to Kant's transcendental idealism in Shapers of Modern Thought... in the space of less than a day.
For variety, I have taught Interdisciplinary and Religion classes, have guided Independent Study programs and even taught a Humanities "writing-intensive interdisciplinary course," at Villanova. I have done these things because there was a need, I was asked, and I rose to the occasion.
Of course, there are the "usual" duties that are assumed by faculty: I've "been there" for writing proficiency evaluations, peer in-class evaluations, ad hoc meetings on Core Curriculum, Middle States Sub-committee meetings, and Honors Committee meetings. I've attended senior seminar presentations and faculty research presentations. I've been involved in student-sponsored activities and AAUP "follies" and softball activities. I'm not a sports enthusiast, but I've attended theatre productions and I've patronized some of music recitals. I've done Speakers' Bureau duty and I have had the privilege to host the local chapter of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.
Two major monthly service contributions I make should be noted. For a number of years now, I have been a consultant to St. Mary Medical Center's Medical Ethics Committee. I have also sponsored the monthly Film Club at Inglis House (where I once taught a philosophy & film class), enjoying a Saturday matinee with former and potential students. Like many others, I do plenty of volunteer activities such as working for my alumni (Cabrini College), I teach CCD ("Sunday School") and have been actively involved with the Cub/Boy Scouts.
You can tell I like variety, that I like to keep active, and I like interacting with people on a number of different levels. Not all faculty enjoy these aspects of their profession, but these are traits that certainly help with the diverse demands of the undergraduate instructor -- a job I've had great satisfaction doing for a number of years.