story Yonatan Gazit | May Tay
Over the past week, Yale-NUS College saw a flurry of new faces as it held a round of faculty hiring workshops. During the workshop on Jan. 19 and 20, interested students had the opportunity to sit down with 22 potential faculty over lunch or dinner. Afterwards, each student was asked to give feedback about the candidate.
Yale-NUS is seeking to recruit approximately 20 to 30 new faculty members, a substantial addition to the current 72, according to Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn and Director of Faculty Affairs Navin Raj. The January workshop was the third of five planned for this academic year, with the final two happening in February and March of 2015. No faculty will be hired for the Economics, Psychology and Art departments. According to Mr. Bailyn, around three applicants are invited to the workshops for each position the school is looking to fill, and approximately 100 candidates in total will have visited the school over the five workshops.
Additional considerations go into faculty hiring at a new college like Yale-NUS. Mr Bailyn pointed out that while all of the candidates are very impressive and talented, merit alone is not enough to land a position. Review committees look at prospective faculty’s teaching ability and potential for working with the current staff and with one another to help build a new curriculum and institution.
Students tend to have good insight into an applicant’s ability as a teacher, Mr. Bailyn said—an additional benefit to having students sit down with candidates for meals. After each meeting, students in attendance fill out forms with their feedback on the professors they met. The forms are then forwarded to one of 17 review committees, depending on the professor’s specialization, according to Dean’s Fellow Regina Markle.
Typically, students’ feedback tend to align with feedback from other parts of the hiring process, Mr. Bailyn shared. However, “if there is a discrepancy … that’s a sign we have to think carefully about what’s actually going on, and why people had the impressions they did,” he said.
An email was sent out to all Yale-NUS students a week before the workshop, asking volunteers to sign up for meals with prospective faculty. Roshan Singh ’18 enjoyed the conversations he had with faculty candidates. “One of the best things about the process was that you can almost see that the professors feel just as excited about this place as [we do] … it’s almost reminiscent of the way I felt when applying here,” he added.
Jay Lusk ’18, who attended two meals with faculty candidates, had a similar view and was grateful students have a say in the academic landscape at Yale-NUS.
The students are one of the biggest attractions of the college, so a chance to meet them face-to-face in an informal setting helps get applicants more interested in accepting a position at Yale-NUS, according to Mr Bailyn. “The faculty members who want to teach the kinds of students we have here are exactly the kind of faculty members we want,” he said. “As long as we can keep that cycle high … [and] have good faculty and good students, good things will happen.”
As of Jan. 23, four Social Science and two Science candidates have accepted positions at Yale-NUS. Mr. Bailyn said that by the beginning of April, most if not all of next semester’s faculty will have been determined.
Scott Currie | Ying Tong Lai contributed reporting.