Department selects English instructor

Allison Rosewicz

The search is finally over.

After two semesters of looking, Missouri Southern has finally found a replacement instructor for a vacancy in the English department.

“The search committee has made its recommendation, and we’ve extended an offer,” said Dr. Dale Simpson, head of the department of English.

The assistant professor of English position opened at the end of the fall 2001 semester when Bryan Vescio resigned. He left after his wife had a baby, and they wanted to return to family in Wisconsin.

Following the search during the spring 2002 semester, the College was unable to find a replacement. Simpson said the department had never done a spring search before.

Three candidates were brought in, but no one was hired.

“I guess because most people start their search in the fall instead of the spring, we may have had less luck at that time,” Simpson said.

So another search was conducted this semester. This time around, the result was successful.

According to Dr. Larry Martin, vice president for academic affairs, the process in finding a replacement, however, is not an easy one.

First the department has to have a clear vacancy.

“We have to have a vacancy as the result of an official resignation or retirement, unless the department is growing,” Martin said.

After the department asks for permission to search, a screening and search committee forms. The committee this semester was comprised of four full-time English department faculty members and one student, David Mink, senior English major.

The committee has to get approval from Human Resources before publishing something to advertise the vacancy.

Applications are then gathered, and the committee reviews and selects the candidates it wants to interview, then sends Martin a letter about these candidates. He advises the committee to allow Human Resources to review the list, making sure it is diverse enough.

Interviews are set up, and the candidates visit the College. The candidate is often asked to teach a class on these visits.

“The premium is always on the classroom,” Martin said. “We want to make sure they’re a good teacher.”

The committee then makes recommendations to the department head, who then makes the final selection, and it goes to the dean to Martin.

“Anytime we hire, we have to look at that person eventually as a full professor,” Martin said. “Does that person have the potential to reach those qualifications?”

He said whenever someone is hired, tenured or promoted, the administration looks at three qualifications: classroom performance, scholarly/creative activity and College service.

“All three of those are kind of standard in higher education,” Martin said. “Those are not uncommon. The difference might be the emphasis we place on the classroom.”

Simpson added that the English department looks for promise of continual development and someone who has earned a reputation as an excellent teacher.

“Missouri Southern is a teaching institution, so we expect they come here with an enthusiasm for teaching,” he said.

Mink said the committee looked for someone “who was energetic and good with students.”

Simpson said for this position, the English department received 50 to 55 applicants.

The committee narrowed down its search, and two candidates visited Southern a couple of weeks ago. One was chosen, and the candidate has verbally agreed to take the job.

The official contract was mailed out Feb. 18.

“Until we get the signed contract back, however, we can’t really comment,” Simpson said.

“Once we get a signature, the search will be officially closed.”

The new assistant professor, who specializes in modern British literature of the 20th and 21st centuries with an emphasis in post-colonial literature, will carry a 12-hour course load. The new instructor will teach two composition classes, as well as two literature classes.

“I think they’re [the new instructor] going to do very well,” Mink said.

“He had a very good presentation when he came.”