I was invited to a campus visit for a faculty position at a university in the U.S. The visit will include a job talk, a class presentation to students, meeting with faculty members, meeting with the dean of the school and meeting with the provost from the university’s president’s office. This is by no means not a small university.

I was wondering what is the goal of meeting with each one of these parties. I do realize that I am being tested as much as I am also doing the same, but I would like to know what the dean and the provost would want to talk about with me.

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    I would like to hear from people who does the dean and the provost would want to talk with me about?. = a job. In most US universities, departments don't hire on their own, they recommend for hiring, and final decisions technically come from above (deans etc).
    – virmaior
    May 12, 2017 at 11:01
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    Related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/80558/40589
    – Dan Romik
    May 12, 2017 at 14:06
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    That's interesting, we don't have a "dean" tag. May 12, 2017 at 14:52
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    Perhaps they don't want to scrutinize your inability to comprehend the double negative.
    – Strawberry
    May 12, 2017 at 15:04
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    Typically we only run candidates through all of these meetings - hiring committee, teaching example, dept. chair, provost, various AVPs and VPs, etc. IF we are paying them to travel to the interview. For local candidates the provost, AVPs, etc. don't meet them until after most of the other process is complete
    – ivanivan
    May 12, 2017 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


Meetings of this sort are pretty standard, but my experience is they're usually at a later stage of the process, like a second visit. Deans don't like to waste the time if the candidate doesn't pass muster of the faculty.

For better or worse, the Dean and the Provost carry a very big stick. Your recruitment can be halted in a split second if one of them decides that way. The way it goes is that search committees make recommendations to Chairs and Deans. At intermediate stages, they will advance a handful of applicants for consideration. If the Dean or higher up says to the Chair "I would prefer if you don't hire that candidate" that's usually a done deal.

In subtler cases, they can come up with "extra" resources to make your package a bit more exciting if they feel you're worth it, such as bumping the size of your startup package with discretionary funds.

If the Deans or other high level officers want to meet with you at an early stage, that's could be just due diligence, providing a reality check, but it could be almost anything. Could be a young department or chair, and the Dean feels the need to keep an eye on the process. It could also be an indication that the search has advanced to a fairly late stage, and they want to make a hire quickly. It could also mean that these officers take a very active role in the management of their faculty, which could be a good thing. It could mean that they take a very active interest in a campus with a family-like leadership style. It could also mean that you're being considered for a very strategic hire and that they have a key interest in making sure just the right person is brought in to advance their programs.

There's also the possibility that you're a desirable candidate, and they want to impress you by showing high-level interest in your recruitment right from the start.

It's very hard to know exactly why they're directly involved without asking them. In any case, be responsive to their questions. Use earlier meetings with other faculty to try to get a feel for the slot you're being recruited for, and in your big meetings, be the person they're looking for.

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    Your experience is rather different from mine (US, math). I've never heard of a faculty interview process that involved more than one campus visit per candidate - organizing one is hard enough! And on that one visit, meeting with the dean is nearly universal and doesn't indicate anything special. One would meet with the provost at a school that is small enough that the provost has many dean-like duties, or if the job is more of a leadership role (e.g. department chair). May 12, 2017 at 14:50
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    Thanks a lot. Youve touched upon few possibilities that actually crossed my mind. The department is making a late recruitment of faculty members for 4 new classes in a new program that they are launching this year. The search committee search told me over the phone that because they want to move quickly with the process, Ill have all these meetings in one day. I was also told that I will be teaching graduate classes that will open next year. I am also bringing funding with me to the school.
    – Change
    May 12, 2017 at 14:51
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    Also, whether you meet with the dean before or after the faculty is, in my experience, usually just a matter of scheduling - and they don't usually communicate with each other about the candidate until afterwards. May 12, 2017 at 14:51
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    @NateEldredge -- our recruitments are almost always two visits. The first throws a wider net -- maybe four candidates or so, and the purpose of the visit leans more toward "do we want you?", although is is still certainly a two-way conversation. Second visits are usually for the strong favorite, or maybe the top two, and that visit takes on a "do you want us?" flavor, where we lay out physical space, go through the wish list, bring them to realtors.... The Dean's visit tends to take place more during the 2nd than the 1rst, but that doesn't mean the Dean isn't involved until then. May 12, 2017 at 14:58
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    @Nate Eldredge: That's been my experience also -- I've never heard of more than one visit for a candidate in math. Also, for what it's worth, I've not only had provost interviews, but for several of the smaller colleges I've interviewed at I've even had an interview with the president of the college. May 12, 2017 at 17:00

A lot depends on the size of the institution. Compare a flagship large state university with 40,000 students to a small liberal arts college with 1000 students. In the case of the small college, the dean is likely just a part-time administrator and the provost is probably the only full-time academic administrator. At the large university, there might be a full-time department chair, dean, and maybe a vice president below the provost.

In my experience of running search committees at a small college, the dean and provost typically interview all of the faculty candidates that come to campus and provide feedback to the committee. They're mostly interested in making sure that candidates can communicate well and will fit into the campus culture. They also make a point of explaining their expectations of new faculty. At our institution, they're very interested in candidates who will be active in interdisciplinary research projects. I've come to respect the judgments of these folks when it comes to communications skills and personality because they've had a lot of experience in hiring people.

As an applicant, I'd suggest that you focus on communicating clearly about your teaching and research interests and how you can contribute to the larger mission of the institution. Try to come across as someone who will work hard and not demand too much special attention. Do not use this interview to start making demands relating to salary, start-up package, etc.- that can be a huge turn-off.

You can also look for any signs of tension between the administration and the academic department. For example, are their expectations of your teaching and research activity in agreement? If you get inconsistent answers from the administration and the academic department then that is an indication of discord within the institution.

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