Search Procedures for Targets and Pre-Selects
For more information, see Provost Kertzer's memo on targets (2008)
To: Chairs and Directors
From: Ed Wing and Rajiv Vohra
cc: David Kertzer, Valerie Wilson
Re: Search Procedures for Targets and Pre-Selects
Date: July 30, 2010
As you know, faculty appointments are generally made through a standard search process (see http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/dean-of-faculty/searches-and-h... for details), intended to generate a pool of qualified candidates that is deep and broad, to help us to identify those who will meet our standards for excellence in research and teaching, and ultimately to hire the best candidate. Thorough and comprehensive searches are also important components of our affirmative action efforts and commitment to equal opportunity, for they ensure that we cast the net wide and don’t prematurely narrow the pool of eligible candidates. While the general presumption is that meeting these objectives necessitates a search, in exceptional cases we retain the flexibility to make faculty appointments without undertaking a full search. We are writing now to clarify when and how a department or program may depart from the standard search process.
1. The Target of Opportunity Program is designed to help the University respond to outstanding opportunities in faculty hiring even when a search is not underway or a department does not currently have a vacant position. As explained in the policy,
"Proposed target appointments need to satisfy two criteria. First, they must add extraordinary value to the University, where value is in the context of our multiple institutional goals. These include bringing to campus scholars of unusual depth, originality, and impact, diversifying the faculty and thereby better fulfilling our academic mission, and ensuring growth in the depth and breadth of our educational offerings. Second, we must feel confident that the achievements and potential contribution to the University are so high, evident, and singular that the candidate would certainly emerge as the top choice from any relevant search that would have been undertaken. The target program enables us to bring such faculty to Brown without a traditional search."
There will undoubtedly be potential candidates for whom these two criteria will not be obvious in the absence of a regular search, and in such cases conducting a search can help to make the case for a particular candidate stronger when the prima facie evidence is not adequately compelling. A nomination for a target may therefore be declined, though it is of course possible that the candidate might be offered a position through the regular search process. Note that even approved targets at the tenured level must undergo the standard tenure review process, including TPAC review.
To ensure that this program continues to offer the University ongoing flexibility, it is not meant to be a way of permanently increasing the size of a department; target appointments are generally expected to be absorbed into the departments' authorized roster through future attrition (details depend on the situation). This program has been of immense value to us in recruiting extraordinary faculty members, and as we pointed out in my recent memo regarding new faculty searches, several Target positions remain available and we will be pleased to consider proposals for these positions at any time during the year.
"Pre-select" appointments are similar to "target" appointments in the sense that they must meet the standard that such candidates would emerge as the top choice in a regular search. The main difference is that a pre-select appointment fills an existing vacancy while a target allows a department to temporarily exceed its authorized roster.
2. Especially for senior appointments, there are circumstances which don’t involve targets of opportunity but which nevertheless warrant some flexibility in the search process. A search committee may already have an excellent sense of the leading scholars in a particular field, or it may wish to be able to consider candidates who are unlikely simply to apply in response to an advertisement. In such cases, it may be appropriate to assemble a provisional list of highly-qualified candidates, with the purpose of inviting them to campus for visits and lectures; this permits the department to evaluate them without formally considering them as candidates. While this process may eventually result in a request to appoint someone as a “pre-select,” a department should consult with us before embarking on such a modified search. Permission should be obtained before inviting candidates to campus, and you will be asked to explain the method by which the pool of candidates was identified.
Whether a candidate is identified as a target or pre-select or through a full search, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the process has been fair and open, and that the appointment is the best we can make.