all those hours down the drain

Well, the latest news from my Chair is that, after countless hours of faculty effort (reading files, discussing files in meetings, interviewing candidates, lunches and city tours, etc, etc), we won't be successfully completing one of our searches. There are few things worse for department morale than a failed search. Just as a successful search can energize and bring people together in a renewed vision for a particular area or subfield, a failed search can reinforce suspicion, negative attitudes, and a sense of defeatism.

In this case, I really don't see that it was the fault of anyone in my department; competing offers and candidates' personal situations are outside our control. And there is only so far that we can get our Dean to match competing offers -- we are a public institution and inevitably have fewer resources than some other places. It's frustrating to know that there were probably other good candidates out there who somehow didn't get onto our short list. One of the sad things about doing searches is that you see the awful consequences of the overproduction of PhDs up close.

A failed search does nobody any good. Certainly not my department. We all have to retreat and lick our wounds and somehow figure out how we're going to go about this again next year. It's such a draining process under the best of circumstances -- this will make it even more difficult to get good people to volunteer their time to the hiring process.