The Failed Biology Faculty Recruitment

The search for a full-time biology faculty member failed at the second level. Beth Pearson (Biology) - who chaired that search committee at the first level - addressed the Governing Board on 9/10/19 with the following speech.

"I came today as a representative of the entire Biology Department.  We collectively put together the following concerns and I volunteered to try and communicate them to you.

You have heard before about frustrations with the hiring process.  And as you know, we have a set of policies and procedures that have been developed and agreed upon by you, the faculty and administrators over the years and we have been trained numerous times on how to follow those policies and procedures.  We have respected them because their intent is to remove any bias from the process in an attempt to bring the very best instructors to Palomar to teach our students. 

Our department has been ranked in the top for new full-time faculty hires over the past few years because our ratio of full-time to part-time faculty is no where near the required 75/25 ratio.  Currently about 37% of our classes are being taught by full-time faculty.  In addition, we have been asked to add numerous new sections, growing our big three classes (anatomy, physiology and microbiology) by approximately 70% in the past 3 years and we have been asked to have a strong presence at both of the new centers. 

Hiring faculty for biology isn't just about subject expertise; our courses can easily intimidate students and turn them away from their takes a certain kind of person to deliver the material in a clear way and in a manner that empowers the student as a learner.  We have worked hard over the years to bring faculty to Palomar College who have those qualities.  

We spent an enormous number of hours collectively developing screening materials, poring through applications and cover letters to find faculty who understand our students, have a passion for serving them, and deliver the material in a clear and organized way. 

Our committee represented more than 50 years of community college teaching experience in the biological sciences and we found the best of the best in our applicant pool only to arrive at a second level discussion where only one voice with one perspective counted.

When we asked for reasons why the candidates we brought forward were not “good enough” we were not given reasonsIn fact, we were asked to go back into the pool to try again with no solid justification for rejecting the top candidates of our search.  We even asked how we could change our job announcement and screening materials to arrive at a different result and were denied clarificationThe conclusion we make from conversations at second level and elsewhere is that the candidates weren’t diverse enough.  The thing is, we all share the goal of increasing diversity in the faculty at Palomar; we get it. 

We fully understand the benefit of such diversity, but a good leader would have brought us to the table before the search process to discuss ways we could improve the chances of finding qualified diverse candidates legally, instead of wasting hundreds of our hours, disregarding our policies and procedures unilaterally, treating our compliance officers rudely and unprofessionally for doing their jobs, leaving us with no way to tell our adjuncts who applied what they should do differently to be more competitive, asking us to basically break the law by dismissing our best qualified candidates and go back into the pool of candidates and decreasing moral across the campus because this isn't shared governance

Honestly, it feels like a dictatorship. We know you have heard these complaints before but we wanted to make sure you knew that it wasn’t an isolated incident, it is a pattern and that the fall out is a faculty disenchanted with the leadership at this college."

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