Yale-NUS continues faculty searches

Members of Yale-NUS faculty search committees met in Singapore early this month to evaluate candidates for 15 faculty positions at the new Singaporean liberal arts college.

Yale-NUS, which hired 38 professors in 2012 and plans to build a faculty of 100 professors by the time the school reaches full enrollment, created four faculty search committees for its second round of faculty recruitment and evaluated roughly 36 candidates in January. Humanities, social sciences, sciences and environmental studies are the areas in which the search committees are looking to hire, said Charles Bailyn, dean of faculty at Yale-NUS.

Bailyn and search committee members interviewed said the faculty recruitment process for Yale-NUS differs from faculty searches at other institutions, as Yale-NUS professors will be involved in consolidating the Singaporean college’s curricular and extracurricular life in its first years.

“There is a factor that we need to consider that is more important to us than to an established institution,” Bailyn said. “We need to find people who are excited by creating a new institution with a new curriculum, and who are skilled at working with colleagues from other disciplines to do this.”

Bailyn said Yale-NUS administrators held two recruitment workshops at which candidates for faculty positions gave presentations and participated in discussions with candidates and search committee members from all four disciplines, rather than having each committee only evaluate candidates in its designated field. Such an approach enabled search committee members to evaluate the candidates’ ability to teach non-experts and collaborate with faculty from outside their area of expertise, he said.

Bailyn added that the recruitment process also featured round-table discussions, during which candidates and search committee members discussed the college’s curriculum as well as extracurricular and residential life issues. He said administrators will try to implement some of the candidates’ ideas about the school.

Joseph Altonji, a Yale economics professor who is a member of the social science search committee, said the recruitment process allowed committee members to “really get a sense of what someone would be like as a teacher.”

Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis said the college will begin rolling out offers to candidates once the Yale-NUS Governing Board approves the overall slate of faculty applicants, which he said will take approximately six more weeks.

Some members of the Yale-NUS faculty advisory committee — a Yale committee whose purpose is to keep faculty in New Haven informed about the progress of the new college, as well as advise University President Richard Levin on how to approach potential areas of concern — participated in the faculty workshops in Singapore in early January. Advisory committee chair Marvin Chun said in a Sunday email that the faculty recruitment workshops were “intellectually stimulating and highly informative,” and added that he thinks the workshop format is appropriate for identifying the types of scholars who will make the Singaporean college “unique and successful.”

Lewis said the faculty advisory committee also used its January trip to discuss Yale-NUS’s nondiscrimination policy and academic freedom at the new liberal arts college.

Faculty hired in Yale-NUS’s initial recruitment round hail from schools such as Vassar College and Ohio State University.

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