I have applied to a Chair position, in response to a public advertisement from a US University (not one of the top ones, of course). This included investing some good time, sending several documents, and a formal application (the first, and probably last one).

In 2 years, I never heard 1 word in response (apart the application reception acknowledgment). I was wondering if this kind of rudeness is the standard in the USA, and it is to be normally expected.

  • Job openings typically have several hundred applicants, and it is typical not to contact unsuccessful applicants, unless you've previously invited them to interview or something like that. I'm not sure whether or not I agree that it's rude, but in any case it is the norm.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 23:32
  • Well I doubt they have "several hundred applicants". In fact I keep receiving alerts about that job, which after years still appears not to be filled. My personal opinion is that it's some device for tax evasion by formally allocating some funds for non existent positions. Also it's strange to me that a "Chair" it's not even in tenure track (in my first contact with the vice provost (in charge of the search) he assured it was (or else, being already tenured, I would not even apply, of course), now, in the new advertisement, they deny it). Well, it does not take a genius to get the situation.
    – Pam
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


This is the typical situation normal but all fouled up (SNAFU) of job searches in the United States. Often you are lucky to get a two line e-mail or a postcard at the negative conclusion of a search.

In the case of Chair searches, though, the fouled-up nature is usually much worse. I'm assuming this is Chair-as-in-Head-of-a-Department rather than a Named-Chair-as-in-Benefactor-Sponsored senior position.

Usually universities search for external Chairs when there are problems with the existing senior faculty that make it impossible for a Chair to arise from within the department. This means that search will be similarly confused, with possible internal conflicts in the department as well as external interventions from the Provost's office.

Because of these competing interests, external Chair searches can take even longer than the usual search.

I would write to the Search Chair and ask what the status of the search is.

Postscript: The OP has clarified that this is a search for a named chair. These tend to go smoothly as the institution already has the money vested by the benefactor, who usually wants to see the position filled quickly (and is likely to give again if pleased by the results) and often puts enough parameters on the position (theoretical field, area of study) that political factions within the department can't mess it up too much. So whatever is going on in the OP's situation seems strange and rather unique.

  • Thank you RoboKaren. Well my suspect is that was one of the many fake endowed chairs. Probably, for tax evasion (It would have no meaning that such an humanity benefactor professor has companies at Cayman islands otherwise). I have seen the advertisement repeated during these 2 years. So 2 + 2 =... :-)
    – Pam
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 21:55
  • I haven't heard of fake endowed chairs at an accredited American university. If the place is located in the Cayman Islands, then I would of course be suspicious. Some people have enough info in their CVs to be able to have their identities easily stolen. I hope yours did not have your social security number, birth date, place of birth, or other private info.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 22:06
  • No No. It was legitimate. I exchanged emails with the vice provost (in charge of the search), before sending the application (which of course had all my data), to make sure about my suitability for the position (I am already tenured in my current position). Cayman islands were mentioned just because the endower (a professor in that department) has (among others) business over there.
    – Pam
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 22:09
  • One of the senior faculty in the department is rich enough to endow a named-Chair in his own department? That's a new one for me -- but then again, faculty in my branch of the social sciences are paid rather poorly.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 22:15
  • 1
    Nice (to be that rich), but it's also likely he's going to be very interventionist in the search process. I would assume that no news is bad news in this case.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 22:20

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