A question

LicoriceI would be interested in your responses to this academic job-search question, recently rendered relevant by my friend Professor Ghost Dots.

You are Assistant Professor Jellybean, teaching at University A in the Pacific Northwest.  A senior colleague of yours at University A, Professor Good & Plenty, spent his recent sabbatical year at the humanities center of University B, in the deserts of the Southwest.  Now a good job has being advertised at University B, and your friend, Professor Ghost Dots, who is serving on the search committee, urges you to apply.  Professor Ghost Dots is on friendly terms with Professor Good & Plenty, but won’t tell Professor Good & Plenty that you are applying for the job.  You do not, in fact, wish Professor Good & Plenty or any of your other colleagues at University A to know that you have applied for the job at University B.  Considering that Professor Good & Plenty has recently spent a year at University B, and that he is a collegial fellow who has made a number of warm friends there, have you a snowball’s chance in hell that your application to University B will not get back to the ears of Professor Good & Plenty, and shortly thereafter to the ears of everyone in your department at University A?

And if the answer is “No,” what should you do?  Not apply?  Apply, but beseech the search committee of University B for silence?  Enlist Professor Ghost Dots to help silence the search committee?  Or go to Professor Good & Plenty, tell him that you are applying before he hears it from someone else, and ask him to keep it to himself–except, of course, for any positive comments about you that he might care to share with his friends on the search committee?

And what if you are Professor Ghost Dots?  Should you not have urged Professor Jellybean to apply?  Should you try to silence the search committee yourself?  What if Professor Good & Plenty asks you straight out whether Professor Jellybean has applied?

Professor Ghost Dots and I await your wisdom!


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