The Pros and Cons of Campus Visit Dinners

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

The campus visit is an odd portion of the academic job search process. It is arguably the key moment when the power dynamics between hiring committees and candidates begin to shift.

A typical tenure-track search might produce three candidate visits and, due to the limited number of candidates at this stage in the process, departments tend to switch their focus from critiquing candidates toward impressing them. (I don’t mean to say that the search committee isn’t still evaluating candidates — only that it has narrowed its pool of potential hires and, if candidates have multiple options, the committee’s labor could produce a failed search.) For many departments and universities, getting the “top candidate” will become a point of pride.

Thus, the visits often consist of a combination of evaluative moments (interviews, meetings, teaching demonstrations and job talks) paired with expensive dinners and real estate tours. These dinners and tours could be considered job marketing efforts, and, recently, I have become increasingly aware of debates regarding the professionalism of this type of marketing. Continue reading