As the admissions cycle heats up, high school seniors aren’t the only ones vying for sought-after spots at universities like Georgetown. Often, the procedure for selecting their next instructors can be just as complex.

While some universities have turned to the national ranking of an applicant’s alma mater when hiring faculty, at Georgetown the process remains more individualized. Each department hires separately and no universal standards have been applied university-wide.

At some institutions, the national ranking of the universities from which a candidate received their degree from is a determinant in the process, according to Inside Higher Ed. This is not always the case on the Hilltop, however.

“Faulty hiring is done by the respective academic units and departments based upon their own needs and criteria,” university spokeswoman Julie Bataille said.

James Reardon-Anderson, senior associate dean of the School of Foreign Service, said that the institutional background where an applicant has studied or taught could be a significant indicator of their potential or quality.

“[This] indicates that someone else has already vetted and promoted the candidate,” he said. Chester Gillis, dean of the College, added that this was especially important in terms of candidates’ previous teaching experience.

“If a candidate comes from Harvard University as opposed to `University of Nowhere,’ the Harvard candidate is likely to be favored,” Gillis said.

Gillis said that depending on certain specialties, a candidate coming from a smaller or lesser-known school could be as equally a viable candidate if that school is known for its prominence and quality in a particular field, however.

“We only look for the best and brightest,” Gillis said.

Though these standards apply across the different schools, the department to which the candidate is applying still plays a key role when vetting candidates. Depending on the department, professors may occasionally be invited to teach a lecture or instruct a class to help the hiring committee with the selection. Nevertheless, this depends on the discretion of the individual department.

Reardon-Anderson said that while searching for viable candidates, both the SFS and Georgetown as a whole “consider the quantity and quality of published research or Ph.D. dissertation, promise for future scholarly productivity, proven or prospective quality as a teacher, and collegiality, or promise to make a positive contribution to the academic and scholarly community.”

But with no university-wide rubric for hiring individuals, each department decides how much weight to place on the different components of the application.

“Letters of recommendation are highly weighted because the ways these students and candidates worked with their mentors and professors are highly regarded,” Gillis said.

The university’s Affirmative Action Plan, the Main Campus Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs require that the university make strong efforts to advertise to, recruit and employ qualified candidates, particularly those from minority backgrounds and women according to the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action’s website.

The website highlights specific hiring procedures that must be followed in accordance with these affirmative action requirements. Recruitment reports must be submitted to IDEAA at the beginning and end of the hiring process. The reports are used to help identify the diversity of those involved in the interviewing process and review the selection process as a whole.

The lack of a standard barometer for accepting candidates has led some students to be dissatisfied with professors, however. Angel Humphrey (SFS ’12) recalled taking a sociology course with one instructor specializing in a different field; she said she believed the professor was unqualified to teach the class.

“I learned absolutely nothing [from this professor], and it really began to hurt me in upper level sociology classes where it is assumed that I know things [that] I never learned. I don’t think that’s fair and its hurt me academically,” she said.

Still, other students accepted what they saw as the reality of professor quality: all universities had some better and some worse instructors, a phenomenon they said was not unique to Georgetown.

“[I’ve never had a bad professor] – however, that doesn’t mean some haven’t been much better than others. Some of my professors can be dull or are unable to communicate effectively, yet the professors make up for this by showing that they actually care about their students,” Michael Goulet (COL ’12) said.

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