Faculty selection in progress

The University of Puget Sound is preparing itself. The new academic year of 2011 approaches with the exciting buzz of new students, but also new teachers.

The English and Theatre departments are losing some beloved professors. However, along with the goodbyes come some exciting hellos to new faculty for both departments.

Choosing new faculty for Puget Sound is not an easy task. Professor Peter Greenfield of the English department has been involved with the selection committee for both departments in need of new faculty.

“It’s a time-consuming process,”  Greenfield said. “We want to make sure we get the right person.”

The process began last spring when several members of the English department and one professor in the Theatre department announced their retirement. The departments then set out to replace these professors.

The English department is looking to take on one ten-year professor, and several other professors in more temporary positions. The selection committee is looking to fulfill the ten-year position first as the candidate must make a serious commitment to the Puget Sound community.  The prospective professor must be willing to accept the responsibilities that come along with being an esteemed faculty member of the University.

“We are looking for candidates that are not only good teachers, but also good scholars,”  Greenfield said.

An ideal applicant is able to make connections between his scholarly work and his teachings. The selection committee looks for those that have a large breadth within the department they are chosen for. A liberal arts education does not guarantee that a professor is going to teach his or her specialty at all times. However, it does guarantee that the students are provided with a well-rounded knowledge of their major.

The connection with the students is another important factor for an institution like Puget Sound. The professors here are, more often than not, good at getting students involved in discussion during class. Nothing less is expected of the incoming faculty.

The final two applicants for the ten-year position in the English department, narrowed down from a list of more than 150 provided by the Modern Language Association,  are invited to campus in the coming weeks to hold lectures on their specialty subjects.

Students and faculty members are invited to these meetings to assess the potential professor. It also gives the prospective colleague the opportunity to see what life is like at Puget Sound.

“As much as we have to make sure we select the right person, we have to make sure the right person wants us as well,” Greenfield said.

The selection process for the Theatre professor to replace Jac Royce was more complex. Puget Sound’s Theatre department is very small, and the current selection committee wants to be positive a ten-year faculty member will fit in with the current professors.

“We want them to fit in with personality, as well as what the other three Theatre professors do,” Greenfield said.

The lectures of the prospective English professors conclude this week, but the Theatre presentations are still to come.

“It is exciting to bring new people in, and we urge students to get involved with the process,” Greenfield said.

After all, these are our future professors in question.