By: Yitzchak Carroll | News  | 

YC Deans Involve Students in Selection of New Political Science Professor

In an effort to hire more effective instructors, Yeshiva College Deans included students in the hiring process for a new Political Science professor earlier this year. Students, faculty and administrators alike lauded the initiative to involve students in picking new instructors.

“The Deans are completely committed to getting student input into the hiring process for all full-time, tenure-track positions. And we read students’ evaluation forms carefully, and take them seriously,” said Yeshiva College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Joanne Jacobson. “This is a liberal arts college, and teaching—and good teachers—are essential to our mission!”

Jacobson said that in the fall, the “top four [candidates] out of a much larger applicant pool” were invited to present their research to Political Science majors as well as students in a Social Science class that met concurrent to the presentation slot. After each presentation, students anonymously filled out evaluation sheets to provide feedback to the Deans.

Matthew Incantalupo, who is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College, was selected to fill the vacancy and will begin teaching at YU in the fall. He specializes in American politics and will teach three courses in the Fall 2018 semester.

“I don’t subscribe to the idea that students are the University’s ‘customers,’ but students are part of a broader partnership that makes the University a special place,” Incantalupo said regarding students’ involvement in his appointment. “Students should definitely remain a part of the hiring and recruitment process. Knowing that I’ll be working with good students helped me decide to come to Yeshiva,” he added.

According to Political Science Chair Dr. Joseph Luders, the vacancy for an Assistant Professor of Political Science occurred after Dr. Ruth Bevan, the former department chairwoman, retired last year.

“Student input in the hiring process is no doubt valuable since students are in the best position to evaluate the teaching effectiveness of a prospective professor,” Luders said. “At too many universities, there is insufficient consideration of a professor's merit as a teacher, but, for many students (perhaps most), this is the single most important consideration and it deserves to be factored into the mix of variables when making an appointment.”

A similar process has used previously to fill vacancies in other YC departments, including Computer Science and Biology. According to Computer Science Department Chair Judah Diament, in recent years, candidates have been invited to teach a class as part of a regular Computer Science course and present a guest lecture to students on a topic of the prospective professor’s choosing. Following the lectures, students were furnished with surveys to evaluate the candidates, which were then returned to Professor Diament.

“If someone can’t successfully communicate with, and connect with, our students, we will not hire [them] as a Computer Science professor, no matter how good his/her non-teaching credentials are,” Diament said. “Yeshiva is an educational institution, not an industrial research lab whose exclusive goal is doing excellent research. As such, I think it is critical that we get students’ feedback on our candidates.”

Sophomore Political Science major Avery Horovitz applauded the move. "I'm really glad that the University took this step in encouraging students to become more actively engaged in this aspect of their educational journey,” Horovitz said. “I hope that this sets a trend that will continue on a University-wide scale," he added.