Promoting Carleton in a highly competitive faculty recruitment market

By Melissa Nisbett and Martha Attridge Bufton

The old saying goes, “It’s hard to find good help these days,” but this is not the case in the world of academics. There are top-notch scholars throughout Canada and abroad whose innovative research and teaching would benefit any university.

However, faculty recruitment is highly competitive these days. According to Bruce Winer, associate director of Carleton University’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, Canadian universities will likely need to replace approximately 20,000 faculty members over the coming decade. This demand is due to two factors in particular: one, one-third of scholars currently working in Canada are 55 years of age or older; two, the absolute number of academics in this age group is growing.

“In 2000 there were approximately 32,000 scholars in this category and by 2006, this total had risen to 40,000,” explains Winer. At Carleton, these statistics translate into the need to fill approximately 30 new positions, in addition to 10 renewal positions, in 2007|08.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, Carleton’s provost and vice president (academic), is confident that the university will meet its goals. “Each of our Faculties is determined to offer attractive teaching and research opportunities to prospective professors. Plus, the support offered by the Faculty Recruitment and Support Office (FRSO) has helped us to hire a number of excellent faculty members.”

Professor Melissa Haussman, MA/84, thinks that this confidence is well placed. She was hired by Carleton in 2005, after the retirement of longtime professor Jon Alexander. At that time, the Department of Political Science decided to recruit a scholar who was an expert in not only U.S. politics (as Alexander had been) but also North American politics. “American politics is obviously a core area of research and teaching but, with the opening of the Centre on North American Politics and Society in 2000, we also wanted to develop our expertise in this area,” explains Laura Macdonald, current departmental chair and director of the centre.

Haussman was an ideal candidate, having developed and taught in the graduate program in North American politics at Suffolk University as well as having taught undergraduate courses in both Canadian and North American Politics. She was attracted to the position because it was an associate professorship with a broad teaching and research mandate and also because of Carleton’s location in Ottawa. “Being in the national capital is a real benefit in terms of my research. Plus, my spouse, Linda, and I were looking forward to finally being able to live in a city where houses are affordable.”

She points out, too, that while the position and the city were inducements to accept Carleton’s offer, the support she received from colleagues at the university after she arrived made the critical first months in Ottawa much easier.

“Linda encountered some real obstacles in establishing herself in her new job, and the encouragement I received from my dean and departmental chair plus the specialized advice from the faculty recruitment office really helped us through this tough period–this support confirmed that Carleton is the kind of institution where I want to work and, in effect, sealed the deal.”

Haussman’s story is one of many that the university is keen to promote as part of its recruitment activities. This year the FRSO has created some new tools–a viewbook (a full-colour booklet) and complementary video–to make the recruitment process easier and more inviting for prospective faculty members.

“Our goal was to provide a first-hand look at life at Carleton and in Ottawa by featuring 12 faculty members who talk about their personal experiences about coming to our university,” says MaryAnne Pomainville, the manager of the FRSO. She will distribute the booklet and video to prospective faculty.

The video can be viewed on the FRSO website at carleton.ca/facultyrecruitment.

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