English department looks for 4 professors

Heather Bing

Heather Bing

Daily Kent Stater

If you searched the English department for a postcolonial professor, you wouldn’t find one. In fact, you wouldn’t have been able to find one for the last four years.

A search has been in progress for the most appropriate candidate for the postcolonial literature and theory position in the English department since October 2005. That search will conclude on Monday and mark the end of one of four searches being conducted by the department.

The interviewing process had several different parts. The search committee reviewed about 100 applications and narrowed the applicants down to 10. These 10 candidates were interviewed during the MLA conference in Washington, D.C. this past December. The final three candidates selected were asked to present their work at Kent State.

Martha Cutter, associate professor of English and member of the search committee, said tenure-track positions such as this are hard to find and consequently desired.

“Tenure-track professors are given jobs where they are both teaching and doing research,” she said.

Those three candidates are Masood Raja, who is completing his doctorate in English at Florida State University; Raphael Dalleo, an instructor at Florida Atlantic University; and Giuliana Lund, a visiting lecturer at Arizona State University.

The final three candidates presented work stemming from his or her dissertation studies to the search committee, graduate students and department chair last week and this week. An offer will be made to the chosen candidate on Monday, but there will not be an official announcement until the selected candidate accepts the offer.

This search is one of four being conducted by the English department. It is in the process of looking for candidates in the following positions: African studies, Teaching English as a Second Language and John S. Knight chairperson.

Postcolonialism, offered as a graduate level class, is the study of formerly colonized countries and how events and literature have affected rebellion.

The search committee addressed the candidates’ balance between research of the subject and teaching philosophy.

“There has to be an interaction between the research and teaching,” Cutter said.

The position’s appeal to candidates also includes the English department’s outlook on how research and teaching can relate to real life events. In the postcolonial field, it is important to understand, “how literature impacts the world outside us,” Cutter said.

Tammy Clewell, associate professor of English and member of the search committee, said many questions during the interviews focused on how the candidates would teach, as well as how important teaching was compared to research.

Over half the questions in the interviews dealt with the teaching aspect.

“We are evaluating their teaching ability and their basis of research and publication,” she said.

Along with that knowledge, the committee looked for the candidates’ ability to communicate his or her work.

“It is the quality of someone’s work and their capacity of thinking,” Clewell said.

Although positive interaction with other faculty is desired and faculty opinions will aid in the final decision-making process, Clewell said in the end this is not a personality contest.

“However, personality plays a role in how someone teaches,” she said.

Students’ reactions to the final three candidates were an important part of the final decision-making process as well.

“We will definitely take into consideration what the graduate students say,” Clewell said.

Ronald Corthell, English department chair, agreed student opinions are a major consideration.

“We do feel student input is very important,” Corthell said. “We will certainly pay attention to what they say.”

Cindy Webb, a graduate student in the English department, said information was made available to graduate students about the final three candidates, and each student was able to forward his or her comments on to the department chair.

“I know the opportunity was there for them to voice their opinions,” Webb said.

Corthell said he expected to receive comments today, now that students, as well as faculty, have had a chance to meet each candidate. After taking into consideration faculty and student opinions, the search committee will make a recommendation to Corthell, who will then make the final decision.

Once the offer is made, the candidate has a couple weeks to accept the offer.

“I will say that any one of the three people would make a strong contribution to the department,” Corthell said.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Heather Bing at [email protected].