I was surprised and at the same time amused when I noted the sudden escalation of academic openings in the final three September 2015 issues of C&EN. In previous months, the number of advertisements had been mired at a few or several, encompassing one page or less. Suddenly, the number jumped to 12 pages and 90 positions in the Sept. 14, 2015, issue; tapered off to three pages and 17 openings in the Sept. 21, 2015, issue; and continued at three pages and 21 openings in the Sept. 28, 2015, issue.
Though it is encouraging to see more listed academic positions, almost all positions had one unifying theme: Namely, to meet the requirements listed, applicants must be able to walk on water. What has happened to the simple requirement that all a potential employee has to do is be able to teach and maintain current knowledge about his or her specialty? Instead, in almost all the cases advertised in C&EN, the successful candidate is expected to initiate a research program, obtain outside funding, and bring glory to the department.
Is the sudden escalation in positions available a result of increased enrollment, departure of faculty, or faculty retirement? In any event, if any other position, whether industrial or government, were available, I would suggest that any recent Ph.D.s should avail themselves of that opportunity with a workweek of 40 hours or less.
Nelson MaransFirst, I think Mr. (Dr.?) Marans misses that the uptick is seasonal: it both marks the beginning of faculty hiring season and C&EN's academic hiring issue.
Silver Spring, Md.
However, he points out something that I remember from recent conversations with those running faculty searches: the quality of modern assistant professor candidates is far higher than the incumbents. "I could not get hired these days" is something I've heard from tenured professors (albeit those with potentially non-median levels of humility or self-awareness.)
I doubt this is something that can be objectively measured, but it indeed is interesting.