Teaching at St. John's
Information for Applicants
The academic program at St. John’s College is designed in light of our convictions about the character of liberal education. Our aim is to nourish a life-long commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, to foster abilities that will serve any calling, and to promote the means and the will by which we become free and responsible citizens. As a consequence, the curriculum or program consists of integrated classes in which the texts studied, the organization, and the mode of teaching and learning serve to promote comprehensive, serious, and reflective inquiry.
The curriculum consists primarily of classic texts of the western tradition, including works in mathematics, natural science, literature, philosophy, music, religion and theology. We study them as original texts rather than through commentaries or subsequent interpretations, and approach them in complementary ways through the organization of our classes—sustained, exploratory discussions in seminar; detailed examinations of their elements, teachings, and practices as well as their relations to one another in laboratory, music, language and mathematics tutorials.
Teaching members of the faculty, or tutors, at St. John’s are inquisitive, eager, and committed to learning, as are our students; and members of the faculty are expected to teach in all parts of the program and acquire increased understanding in subjects that may be outside their areas of specialization.
We use the title “tutor” so as to highlight that learning is an ongoing, cooperative enterprise in which some are different stages than others. The role of the tutor is to engage the intellectual and imaginative powers of students—and one another—as we think through texts in the program. The tutor is often said to be a model learner, whose role is to lead primarily in that way: to guide and promote inquiry, to moderate, initiate and facilitate discussion with attention to the individual student and to the class. Tutors try to discern and follow the contours of a discussion and even guide it in more fruitful directions, without shaping or steering it to a preconceived conclusion.
The normal teaching load is three classes, one seminar and two other classes, chosen from among language, mathematics, and music tutorials and laboratories, each of which meets three times a week. The seminar is co-led by two tutors, one usually more experienced than the other. All tutors teaching the same tutorial or laboratory meet once a week to discuss the work of their classes, both substantive and pedagogical.
In addition to teaching, tutors attend faculty meetings, serve on committees, administer oral examinations, attend the weekly formal lecture and question period, participate in faculty seminars, and confer with students and colleagues.
So that tutors have time to deepen their inquiries beyond that required for class preparation, the college grants sabbatical leave as well as provides released time for positions in funded faculty study groups. The study groups meet regularly, usually for a semester or during the summer, to thoroughly explore a text or a subject.
Reappointments and Tenure
With few exceptions, all appointments are tenure-track. Candidates are reviewed for reappointment in the fall of their first, second, and fourth years, with a tenure decision in the spring of the sixth year. Criteria for reappointment and tenure are, in order of importance: 1) excellence of intellect and imagination; 2) serious engagement with the St. John’s Program, as shown by learning in the areas which it encompasses, a deepening understanding of the questions arising from it, and active contribution to the learning of colleagues and students, both inside and outside of the classroom; 3) excellence as a leader and co-leader of small discussion classes, shown in part by being a model learner, a careful listener, and a resourceful guide to student inquiry; 4) ability and willingness to teach throughout the St. John’s Program; 5) collegiality and civility as a member of the St. John’s community, and responsiveness to its needs. The criteria are applied with increasing strictness with each successive appointment.
Salary and Benefits
Salaries are set by a formula based on years of service, so as to avoid individual negotiations and invidious distinctions. For 2012-2013 the normal starting salary is $55,247, with annual service increments. There are no distinctions of rank among the faculty. There is no allowance for prior service elsewhere, but we can make some adjustment in the entering salary to match a previous salary. Benefits are equivalent to approximately 30% of salary, and include generous medical benefits, TIAA-CREF retirement contributions, and dependent tuition benefits. Sabbaticals are generous -- a full year at full pay. They are, if possible, awarded to all those who are eligible, not competitively, but by length of service since the last one.
An application will be complete when the Dean’s office has received the following items:
A statement that presents in some detail the questions that most interest you—these may or may not be related to your scholarly interests—and your understanding of St. John’s College. You should tell us how your interests might intersect with the St. John’s Program, what you might contribute and what you might gain from being a tutor. Three single-spaced pages is a good length. Besides this statement, please also include the following:
1. A brief writing that exhibits your way of being thoughtful
2. A curriculum vitae
3. Three letters of recommendation from persons who have known you in an academic capacity
4. Transcripts of undergraduate and graduate work
We are accepting applications for faculty positions for the 2014-15 academic year.
Materials should be sent c/o the Dean’s Office, St. John’s College, Box 2800, Annapolis, Maryland, 21404-2800. Applications to the Santa Fe campus should be made separately.
It is advisable to complete your application early in the academic year, but late applications will in some circumstances be considered. Upon reading your completed application, the faculty committee responsible for appointments, the Instruction Committee, will decide whether to invite you for an interview.
Visit and Interview
The interview is part of a two-day campus visit. We ask that you arrive no later than Monday at noon in order to attend afternoon tutorials. You will have dinner with students and attend a Monday evening seminar and two more tutorials on Tuesday morning. After lunch with some members of the faculty, you will have an interview with the Instruction Committee lasting about an hour.
The interview is your opportunity to engage the members of the committee in the sort of collegial discussion that you would hope to have as a tutor at St. John’s. We will ask about your impression of the classes you observed and about how you see yourself working in that context. We will also talk with you about questions, topics, and books that are important to you. These may, but need not, be drawn from work you have done in your specialty. We do not expect you to defend a thesis, but to explore a question with us in a way that helps us all be more thoughtful about the issues involved. Towards the end of the session we will give you the opportunity to ask questions.
The college provides food and lodging during your visit, and one-half of transportation costs.
St. John’s is an equal opportunity employer. For further information, please contact the office of the dean at the Annapolis campus.