Strong interest in teaching at Yale-NUS

With roughly 1,500 faculty applications submitted thus far and more on the way, Yale and the National University of Singapore have accrued a deep pool of candidates for teaching positions at their jointly-operated liberal arts college in Singapore.

Administrators at the two universities began reviewing applications for teaching spots in the sciences, social sciences and humanities at Yale-NUS last Tuesday. The initial review of applicants marks the beginning of a hiring process that will appoint 36 faculty by the time Yale-NUS opens to students in fall 2013, said Charles Bailyn, a Yale astronomy professor and the inaugural dean of the faculty for Yale-NUS. With a diverse applicant pool that includes national and international candidates, as well as tenured professors from leading research institutions and recent doctoral graduates, administrators said they plan to select individuals with strong teaching abilities and demonstrated commitment to Yale-NUS, said English professor Pericles Lewis, Yale’s chair of the humanities review committee.

“We weigh undergraduate teaching and curricular innovation very highly in our consideration,” Lewis said. “We certainly want the top scholars, but we only want them if they’re interested in this kind of venture.”

University President Richard Levin and NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan first announced plans for the creation of a jointly-run, four-year liberal arts institution adjacent to the NUS campus in September 2010. The two universities finalized a budget with the Singaporean government in March and, as part of its agreement with the Singaporean government, Yale will not finance the new institution. When the plans were first announced, administrators heralded Yale-NUS as a project that would help bring the model of liberal arts education to Asia.

Most of the applicants so far are from the United States, but Lewis said a “substantial number” have either lived or worked in Asia during their careers. Levin predicted in April that ongoing economic difficulties and the nation’s tough academic job market would lead to a strong pool of job applicants in the Yale-NUS hiring process.

The Yale-NUS hiring committees are looking for somewhat different qualities in candidates than their Yale counterparts would, Bailyn said. The Yale-NUS committees are not only seeking applicants with strong backgrounds in research, but are also concerned with hiring individuals who will integrate their research with the education of undergraduates. Bailyn said the goal is to focus on the liberal arts college as an undergraduate institution, and to hire faculty who will play active roles in supporting the school’s new curriculum.

“In this first round of hires particularly, we’re looking for faculty who will play an active role in developing and teaching the common curriculum courses,” Bailyn said. “That leads us to look particularly closely at people with experience or potential in developing new undergraduate curricula and pedagogical techniques, and people with strong interdisciplinary interests.”

Lewis said the hiring criteria have led to close consideration of professors with experience at top-notch liberal arts colleges such as Williams, Smith and Amherst.

Within the applicant field, some have applied to receive tenured positions at Yale-NUS while others have applied for junior positions, Bailyn said in a Sunday email. Those seeking immediate tenure are coming largely from schools where they already have “permanent positions” while those applying for junior positions are mainly recent graduates just beginning their teaching careers. Lewis estimated that about one third of the applicants currently have tenure at another college or university.

Some candidates are further along in the application process than others, Lewis said, noting that 25 hand-picked individuals were invited to Yale in August for informational workshops on Yale-NUS that were also periodically attended by Levin, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer and Tan.

The event was not a formal recruitment session, but some of the “prominent liberal arts college faculty” brought to the conference for consultation on the project have since applied for positions at Yale-NUS, Bailyn said. Administrators specifically asked eight workshop attendees to apply for a humanities position at the new liberal arts college, Lewis said, and seven did. Lewis added that administrators plan to host additional workshops at Yale in December similar to the ones held in August.

Given the international scale of the Yale-NUS venture, Lewis said interviews throughout the process will be handled in different ways. Some applicants will be asked to interview in New Haven and NUS administrators will participate via video communication, he said, while others will travel to Singapore for interviews and Yale administrators will join in remotely. Bailyn said a number of candidates, particularly in the humanities, will be interviewed at professional conferences in the U.S. over the winter break.

After closely examining applications, the hiring committees will assemble lists of semi-finalists, said Deborah Davis, who is chairing the social sciences review committee. Following additional rounds of interviews, the committees will provide the Yale-NUS appointments committee with final reviews of top applicants, Davis added.

Bailyn said he hopes Yale and NUS administrators will make their first set of job offers in January, though he added that official announcements will not be made until negotiations are finalized with candidates. The appointments committee could hire 12 or more applicants this year, Davis said, and hiring will continue over the next few years until the faculty reaches its target size of 100 members.

Administrators aim to enroll about 150 students in Yale-NUS’s inaugural class.

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  • The Anti-Yale

    BYOB

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