Murphy authorizes three new faculty searches


Tom Benton

President Barbara Murphy

Johnson State College President Barbara Murphy has authorized new faculty searches for three departments: Education, Behavioral Sciences and Performing Arts.

The Behavioral Sciences and Education searches will be for tenure track positions while Performing Arts will look for a one-year visiting position.

Murphy indicated that in the case of the Performing Arts position, which is designed to replace outgoing longtime professor Russ Longtin, a variety of factors contributed to her decision to authorize a visiting professorship at this time. “That position has been occupied by Russ Longtin for so many years,” she said. “Sometimes I think that you need a pause when somebody has truly inhabited and shaped a position to take stock and say what particular skills you want.”

Faced with evident need in other departments as well, Murphy said she had to juggle often competing priorities. “These are not easy decisions,” she said. “These are decisions that leave some people very happy and others not so very happy.”
According to Murphy the Behavioral Sciences department was chosen because the department chair, Professor Gina Mireault, is currently the only professor fully dedicated to the undergraduate psychology major.
The Education department was chosen because it is one of the largest programs at the school and is so important to the school’s roots.
The Performing Arts department was chosen because arts are also an integral part of Johnson State College. “When People think of Johnson they think [often] of creative opportunities,” Murphy said.

The search process itself does not always go well. The Education department has already had two failed faculty searches for their elementary education position. “Elementary education is our largest major in our department, and we have been without an elementary education professor for the past two years,” chair of the Education department Kathleen Brinegar said. “So, it only made sense for us to put out another search. “We’re looking for somebody to run our elementary education programs – somebody who has experience teaching third through sixth grade and at the college level. We’re looking for somebody with leadership skills who can not only teach in the program but also frame and direct the program.”

The Behavioral Sciences department is searching for an assistant professor of psychology, who will be teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. “Our department has the largest number of majors and the smallest number of full-time faculty,” said Mireault. “We have had three vacant positions over the past several years. One was vacated by Dr. Shellie Levine several years ago, and her position was not filled. Another was vacated by Dr. David Hutchinson when he retired last year. His position was filled by our newest faculty member, Staci Born. The third was vacated by Dr. Ellie Webber who retired last year. This search will be to fill her position.”

The process of a faculty search involves work by multiple people, including at least one from an outside department. “It’s an ongoing process, going from a much larger pool to the much smaller, more targeted pool,” said Murphy. She explained that one of the most important things that they look for in a candidate is how they will fit in with the staff, students, and the Johnson community as a whole. “Sometimes people’s written material looks fabulous, but then you talk to them and you just know that they’re not a great fit,” she said. “It does become more apparent [who is right for the job] as you get closer and closer.”
Murphy also explained that because tuition is not adjusted based on the number of faculty, the new hires will have no influence on tuition for students.

Mireault was optimistic about this search and believes that it will yield good results for both her department and the school as a whole. “JSC has attracted some fantastic new faculty in the past few years, and we are very excited to continue that trend in our department,” she said. “We hope that students will take advantage of opportunities to meet the top candidates when they are eventually invited to campus as part of the interview process.”

The authorization for these searches follows last year’s successful recruitment of six new faculty: Assistant Professor of Writing and Literature Jensen Beach, Visiting Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Tim Saeed, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences Staci Born (Psychology), Visiting Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences (Anthropology) Kaa Tretjak, Professor of Education Rob Schulze, and Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Michael Zebrowski.

Searches in Education and Business and Economics failed to yield viable candidates.