ACU Brags about “Strategy Designed to Achieve Excellence” in Philosophy (updated)


[Moved to the top owing to update. Originally published on November 8th, 2023.]

Australian Catholic University (ACU), which is in the process of shutting down its philosophical research center, the Dianoia Institute, and laying off most of scholars they convinced over the past few years to move there from all over the world, is hiring a new executive dean for its faculty of theology and philosophy.

The ad entices applicants by claiming—swallow that sip of coffee before continuing—that “ACU has prioritized research intensification and has developed a strategy designed to achieve excellence in a selected number of areas of strategic priority, including theology and philosophy.”

The ad for the position states that it must be filled by a Catholic theologian, not a philosopher. That is perhaps just as well, since in the philosophy world the university does not have a reputation for trustworthiness as an employer.

You can check out the ad here.


UPDATE (11/10/23): A few pieces of information have come my way since this post was published:

1. If prospective candidates for the position weren’t deterred from applying because of job security concerns raised by the treatment of Dianoia’s faculty, they might be interested to learn that the previous Executive Dean of the Theology and Philosophy Faculty, Dermot Nestor, was individually targeted for redundancy in the draft Academic Change Plan, one year after being forced out of his executive role. (This was changed in the final version of the plan.)

2. The current information pamphlet for prospective applicants for the Dean position not only fails to disclose the elimination of the Dianoia Institute, but rather gives the impression that the Institute is and will remain part of the university, and relies on its contribution to the reputation of the university to entice candidates. Here are images taken from its description of the philosophy and theology faculty and from an organizational chart of the university:

3. The information pamphlet includes a statement of ACU’s principles, which, when taken together with recent events, is useful for assessing how principled the its leaders are:

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Duncan MacTavish
5 months ago

It is a good thing they are hiring a priest as the new dean… after treating their philosophers like dirt, maybe this new priest can help them ask for forgiveness?

Meme
Meme
5 months ago

I’m on the job market right now. Not that I’d have a chance, but there’s no way in hell I’d ever apply to a job at ACU.

Ten
Ten
5 months ago

Very unAustralian of ACU.

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
5 months ago

Well, in their defense, the ad says that they *have prioritized* research excellence in those areas, not that they’re currently prioritizing it. And it says they have developed such a strategy, not that they are currently using or committed to that strategy.

Dr. Lothar Leidernicht
Dr. Lothar Leidernicht
Reply to  Derek Bowman
5 months ago

I think this is crucial. The task of an incoming dean is to come up with new ideas and new priorities so that they can be posteritized as have beens at an opportune moment and not to tinker with some that are already have beens. In other words, the ad specifies precisely what the task is not, as any professional job ad should. A theolian or priest is a simple sine qua non, since for any such innovative approach one needs the best marketing possible and no other field has had comparable success in getting people to buy not just annual but life-long generational subscriptions.

Nope
Nope
Reply to  Derek Bowman
5 months ago

You might be going a little too easy on them. The packet represents Dianoia as something that the new dean would oversee, but it was marked for disestablishment months before the ads came out. And the headhunting firm agreed it would be misleading and potentially amount to misrepresentation. (I wrote to them to express concerns and they did not know that Dianoia was being disestablished.)

SCM
SCM
Reply to  Nope
5 months ago

Clearly the new dean will oversee Dianoia: s/he will see to it being over.

Nope
Reply to  SCM
5 months ago

Ha! (But Dianoia will be dead and gone months before the new candidates are interviewed.)