Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ranking the "Stars"

Rankophiles (n. pl., people who are in love with "rankings") might be interested to learn that Brian Leiter has identified the top three "Rising Stars" among newly hired junior faculty in philosophy. The stars (Agnes Callard, Matthew Kotzen and Japa Pallikkathayil) earned their rank, according to Leiter, by exhibiting a level of "talent and promise" that "resulted in the most [job] offers from leading departments this past year." So, if you weren't already sweating under enough pressure from this profession, these rising stars ought to give you new reasons to stay up at night.

As I've said before, I'm neither an enthusiastic advocate nor a staunch opponent of rankings per se... though I'm certainly more in favor of ranking programs than I am of ranking individual philosophers. But, what actually perplexes me about this story is the criterion that was used. How can anyone possibly know who received the most job offers from leading departments in any given year?

This is a genuine question. I really don't know. My assumption was that job offers (especially ones that are eventually declined) were, for the most part, kept confidential. Can anyone explain?


Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I remember last year that some douche bag posted on Brian Leiter's appointments list (which I actually think is really helpful) not where he was going, but that he was still entertaining offers from a long list of absurdly prestigious schools (something on the order of Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley and UCLA). I'm sure he rationalized it by thinking he was doing a service telling people waiting to hear that they weren't at least first choice. But really, I think he was just an ass (at least that's how I took him).

Sometimes I think that the primary purpose of the Leiter Reports is to tempt me towards ressentiment, to refer to something we talked about in a previous post ...

Heather and I play a game in whatever neighborhood the APA is in called "Spot the Philosopher." It's depressingly easy.

DOCTOR J said...

Yeah, I've played that game, too. Piece of cake.

DOCTOR J said...

I noticed today that Leiter posted in "Rising Stars Redux" a fuller explanation of how one knows who got what job offers. That was really the only question I had about the process.

It seems like others have blogged about his original post, though, and obviously did so in a way that was far more provocative.