With the 2014/2015 academic job season coming to a close, I find myself preparing for the next season and keeping my eyes on other options. A proactive step I’ve undertaken is expanding my (mostly) daily job search email from Higher Ed Jobs to report results for regional and national jobs in my field. Additionally, in perusing Alt-Ac jobs, I’ve generated a third automatic search dedicated to ALL jobs in the Lehigh Valley. My regional and national search results, especially at this time of the year, confirm the high number of adjuncting and temporary positions available. Given what we know about the circumstances of academic jobs, especially for the humanities, the results are not surprising and confirm much of what one reads on CHE, IHE, and finds on social media.
However, I am surprised by what I’ve seen in the results of my automated searches for academic jobs in the Lehigh Valley. For those of you unfamiliar with the Lehigh Valley: It is an area of Pennsylvania located about an hour northeast of Philadelphia. The major towns of the Lehigh Valley include Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. It is a lovely, vibrant area that I’m happy to call home. The Lehigh Valley, given its size, hosts a large number of colleges, universities, and community colleges.
It is not uncommon to see my frequent search results from Higher Ed Jobs generating a healthy number of jobs in academia available in the Lehigh Valley. I counted on seeing a variety of adjuncting opportunities across all educational fields in these search results, but I was unprepared for the number of jobs dedicated to low and high level administrative positions, especially of the assistant or associate director nature. Since the expansion of administrative positions in higher education has been well-documented, I wasn’t unaware of the administrative creep occurring in academia. If anything, I wasn’t prepared to see the robust expansion of administrative roles in such a small sample size like the Lehigh Valley.
I decided to make a word map as an aid to understanding the academic job scene in the Lehigh Valley. The data used consists of 74 jobs posted in the Allentown / Bethlehem metro area (as defined by Higher Ed Jobs) and dates from 01/26/15 to 06/03/15. I included the advertised position name and its associated classification. I removed all locations, school names, and extraneous words. The results largely confirm the feeling that I’ve had over the past few weeks: I should have done my PhD work in the field of Assistant Director.
Joking aside, I find these results disheartening and I’m further saddened to see many of the requirements listed for these positions and their associated salaries. It isn’t uncommon for many of these positions to require a BA and a few years of experience. Furthermore, the salaries are often far beyond what a person with a PhD in the humanities can obtain with full-time employment. It is likely for the best that I cannot easily graph all these advertisements and represent their trends visually.
I suspect these results for the Lehigh Valley are likely not different than other comparable areas of the country, and that is the troubling thing.