Hillsdale College plans to hire 10 full-time faculty in the fall to fill positions opened by retirements and departmental expansions.
The art, biology, economics, education, psychology, physics, and religion departments will hire professors for next year. There is also an open position at the Kirby Center in Washington, D.C.
Mark Maier, senior advisor to the provost, said the college hires around eight to 10 new faculty members every year.
“It’s one of the most important things we do,” Maier said. “Because if we do this poorly, there are all kinds of problems for everybody. If we do it well, we will have somebody for the next 30 years of their career.”
Maier said in order to find professors who are not only proficient educators, but also will fit into the culture of Hillsdale, applicants are expected to go through a lengthy process before they are considered for a position.
Beginning with an application, faculty candidates must submit their curriculum vitae, recommendation letters, their teaching philosophy, and write an essay-length response to the college’s mission statement. Maier said this prompt allows hiring committees to distinguish good candidates from great ones because it shows whether applicants’ values align with those of the college.
“Most places just want to know your expertise and where you went to school, and we want that as well,” Maier said. “But we also want to make sure that they understand what Hillsdale is about, and they understand our approach to liberal education and the nature of the college.”
Dan Coupland, chairman and professor of the education department, said colleges look for three areas when hiring professors: teaching ability, service to the college, and research.
“Teaching is the side that the students get to see a lot of, and at a place like Hillsdale, teaching is held in high regard,” Coupland said. “That doesn’t mean we ignore the other two, it’s just that if you can’t teach, you probably don’t belong at Hillsdale because we’re a teaching institution.”
After reviewing applications, the members of the hiring committee meet and select three to four candidates to invite to campus for a given position. For prospective professors, on-campus visits include teaching a sample lesson, lunch with students, a presentation of research, and a series of interviews.
Dean of Faculty Mark Kalthoff said applicants meet with the president, provost, dean of faculty, all members of the hiring committee, the departmental dean, and three more faculty from the department’s division — either natural sciences, humanities, or social sciences.
“We always tell people we’re looking for Hillsdale College faculty members first and English professors second,” Maier said. “We want the whole institution involved so we can get a sense of how they fit into the bigger picture.”
Kalthoff echoed the importance of finding professors who understand the purpose and the values of Hillsdale College.
“A big part of the interview process is for us to tell job candidates about our commitments, it’s kind of a mutual interview. I try to be very open about what Hillsdale College is and what it is not,” Kalthoff said. “As you’ve heard Dr. Arnn say, college is a partnership. It’s much easier to be partners with somebody who shares your view of the way things work.”
After their campus visits, Kalthoff said search committees establish a ranking of the candidates and submit it to the provost’s office for review before it is sent to President Larry Arnn for the final decision.
Kalthoff said it is rewarding to be a part of the decision-making process for new hires because he gets to help preserve Hillsdale College’s culture and shape its future.
“It’s one of the more rewarding kinds of work that you can do in administration here because you’re really helping shape and build the institution,” Kalthoff said. “This is my 33rd year teaching here. Some of the younger people that we’re hiring, I hope they have 33-year careers, and if they do, I probably will not only not be working here, I probably won’t even be living when they reach retirement. So I get to touch the future, and it’s an honor to be part of it.”