AHA Activities

Letter to AHA Membership about Job Ads

John Jay TePaske, March 1989

As most of you are aware, there has been an exponential increase in the number of job openings being advertised in the Employment Information Bulletin of Perspectives. As a result, the AHA Professional Division has become very concerned over a number of issues involved in the placement process and is soliciting information and suggestions from the AHA membership and graduate students who have used the Job Register at the AHA annual meeting. First, we are interested in improving the operation of the Job Register to make it more efficient and more humane in order to serve interviewers and candidates in the best way possible. Second, we are considering possible revisions in the EIB Guidelines regarding the placement process, such things as hotel-room interviews, and stronger sanctions against those institutions who use the EIB but do not abide by its guidelines.

Another knotty issue being considered by the Professional Division Committee is the sharp increase in the number of unadvertised searches. Some of these have occurred because of a desire to appoint minorities and women, others in a quest for stars (targets of opportunity as they are called), still others simply in disdainful disregard of the principle of open searches. Another facet of this same issue is the appointment of spouses. A number of questions have arisen already. Can unadvertised searches be justified by the need to recruit minorities or women? Are the long-range interests of minorities or women—or institutions—hurt by these practices? Have unadvertised searches in various institutions, particularly star searches, served the interests of minorities or women overall? Should spousal appointments be considered in the same way as normal appointments, or should they be governed by different rules? Should the AHA consider sanctions against those who violate fair appointment procedures? The Professional Division is thus seeking information, opinions, and suggestions on all the issues noted above. With these in hand we can give more informed consideration to placement problems at the Professional Division spring meeting in April. Please address correspondence to me c/o Department of History, Duke University, 104A West Duke Building, Durham, NC 27708.

John Jay TePaske
Vice President, Professional Division
American Historical Association