• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


Ask the Administrator: The Financial Panopticon

A new correspondent writes:

August 4, 2009

A new correspondent writes:

I recently applied and received an offer for a full time faculty position at the cc where I've been adjuncting for several years. This has been my goal for quite some time, and I'm thrilled that I'm finally moving past the rank of adjunct. However, I haven't yet done the paperwork, and I have one concern - credit. I understand that certain types of schools cannot hire individuals who have defaulted on student loans. I currently have a loan in default (though this position would mean I could rehab my loan and get my credit back on track). Do cc's run credit checks on new hires? If I am in default, is the cc likely to rescind the offer of full time employment?

First, congratulations on the offer! In this market, that's quite an accomplishment.

I'd be surprised if an offer already made were rescinded. Typically, employers do their due diligence (or not) before making the offer, precisely to avoid having to rescind them. Calling references, for example, only makes sense when you're trying to rule somebody out; once you've committed, there generally isn't much point. (Worst reference I've ever heard: "I'm calling to confirm a reference for so-and-so." "Who?" Ouch.)

My cc doesn't do credit checks, so I really can't speak to how (or why) cc's that do, use them. Your reference to "certain types of schools" is opaque, at least to me. I don't know what types those are, if any. I've never heard of it, and it's certainly nothing I've encountered in the cc or proprietary worlds.

The only hitch I could envision with student loans -- outside of, say, a fraud conviction -- would be if you got the loan directly from your alma mater itself. Colleges owed money by former students often won't send out transcripts for them. We won't hire anybody whose degrees we can't verify. In that case, failing to produce an acceptable transcript could tank your candidacy. But if your loan is from an outside party -- whether public, quasi-public, or private -- and you defaulted, I don't imagine your alma mater would refuse to send a transcript. Since we don't dig deeper than that, as long as the transcript and degree(s) are kosher, you're fine.

It's not at all clear to me why a cc would want to run credit checks on prospective faculty. I could imagine it for, say, comptroller or Chief Financial Officer positions. You wouldn't want someone who couldn't handle money to do those jobs, nor would you want someone facing personal financial crises to be directly in charge of large sums of public money. (That would be as ridiculous as having a Secretary of the Treasury who cheated on his income taxes. Oh, wait...) But I don't know why it would matter for, say, a history professor. The relevance is too indirect to be worth the hassle.

All of that said, though, I'm acutely aware that it's a big world out there. Wise and worldly readers, have you seen (or do you work at) colleges that apply credit checks to faculty? Does the correspondent have grounds for concern beyond transcripts?

Good luck! I hope you're able to use the job to get back on your feet.

Have a question? Ask the Administrator at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.


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