Applying for a job here? Some personal answers to questions that might be on your mind.

 

What It's Like at Cal State East Bay

So you're in California - where exactly?
Cal State East Bay is close to San Francisco: it's about 45 mins from the campus to downtown (by car or urban rail). Other nearby cities are San Jose, which is the hub of Silicon Valley (30 mins by car), and Oakland (15 mins). Many people commute from Berkeley and other popular residential areas. UC Berkeley and Stanford are roughly half-hour drives away. The campus overlooks the bay from the Hayward hills.

What about teaching loads and students?
Cal State's mission is to provide "access" to education at a low cost. Nominal teaching loads are high, roughly equivalent to eight semester courses, and the students are primarily drawn from a diverse suburban population - many have immigrant roots and are the first generation to attend college. That said, there are significant teaching load reductions for new hires that can potentially be maintained through research incentives, service, etc., and the department structures teaching schedules and preps to protect research time. At the end of the day, you might frequently teach something like a 3-3, with recurring preps, and class sizes generally not exceeding fifty. If you form good habits, the teaching load should feel lighter than a 3-3 at a college.

How is the salary, compared to market and relative to cost of living?
No one is here because other schools were outbid on money. Cal State pays well below market; on the other hand, benefits are excellent. You'll hear many universities claim that, but pension and health insurance contributions are so generous that they partially close the gap to market pay. Another important factor for many faculty is that the bay area abounds in high-income jobs, so that a spouse can earn a significant premium over what they might earn elsewhere. If you are on a single income, you'll be constrained in where you can afford to live. Hayward itself is "relatively" inexpensive and gets nice around campus. Rental apartments are common here.

Do I have time and funds to travel, and does anyone really care about what I work on and publish?
Most of us teach in blocks of time on two, or at most three, days a week. If you need to get away for a conference, there are facilities to record a lecture and make it available online instead of meeting the class physically. There is a small automatic budget for travel, which would cover one or two short trips a year. The department schedules research seminars as visitors come through, and internal workshops as needed (and you have, of course, a large number of options at nearby Berkeley and Stanford). The faculty we hire value a genuine research culture, therefore you do have frequent interaction on work in progress, and in the department you are first of all judged on research output. Once you settle in and made the initial investments into preps, you should spend about half your time on research.

You are part of a business school. Do you teach MBAs? Do you teach online?
The department is responsible for the BA major in economics and an MA program in economics. It also teaches one service course for the MBA programs and one service course (managerial economics) for undergraduate business majors. A new hire would be more likely to teach the second, but it is entirely possible that you will not teach outside economics at all. You would almost certainly get one or two master's courses on a regular basis. Method of delivery (classroom / hybrid / online) is currently optional, but Cal State is trying to phase in more online courses (which I'd personally welcome for some classes). 

In a relatively underfunded, high teaching environment, how enjoyable can a typical work day be?
I love the job. The key thing is that we do attract good people (thanks to our location). The economics department, while small, is young (mostly under 40) and research active. The administration is supportive. We're housed in a bright new building with modern offices (though we tend to teach in older rooms around campus). The weather is usually mild, with a hint of a breeze. Step outside here, and you recharge very quickly.

 

Whom We Recruit and How
 

Do you hire researchers or teachers?
Unlike the UCs, which charge twice our tuition and get funded at a level that allows for significant investments in research infrastructure, Cal State understands itself to be a teaching-focused system, where scholarship supports instruction. However, the reality of supply and demand in economics is that we can and do hire people who are ambitious about pure research. We'd expect to hire someone whose skills and personality would be a fit with a research-oriented department or a very good college (with high research standards). Quality as a colleague is very important; the ability to teach is pretty much implicit in that (and vice versa).

"High research standards" - what do you mean by that, specifically?
You'll target the sorts of general interest and good field journals everybody recognizes - your papers are written with the care and originality that would merit publication there. Obviously you won't need an AER to get tenure at Cal State. You'll need maybe three decent hits for tenure, but at the point of hiring one can set higher expectations than during tenure review. Ideally, you'll be performing at a level that far exceeds the minimum required for tenure. The good news is: you have a safety buffer here in case you publish below potential.

How many applications do you get and from where? Whom have you hired recently?
Typically about 500 applications, where everything from the top PhD programs to small and international ones is well represented. The department made three hires in 2012/13, whose PhDs were from Stanford, Minnesota, and Melbourne; no offers were turned down. Two were advanced APs with four to five publications in standard field and general interest journals, while one was a fresh PhD without publications and r&rs.

Do you seriously consider applicants from top five PhD programs? From outside the top 50? From non-US schools? Advanced APs?
We review every file and do not exclude anyone a priori based on where they are graduating from, or their level of experience. There are clearly candidates we will not be able to attract, so we have to look at some files under that aspect. Which means that, if you are seriously interested in us, it's a good idea to signal it through a statement in your cover letter. In the case of outstanding non-US based applicants, we ask ourselves if you're prepared to take on US jobs that carry much higher teaching loads than you would be accustomed to from Europe or elsewhere. If you have made arrangements to stay in the US during the flyout phase, let us know, because that would be a strong indication that you're prioritizing the US market.

What is your timeline for interview calls and flyout invitations?
We start reviewing applications around Thanksgiving and call in the second week of December. Flyouts take place toward the end of January and in early February, although we might be in touch with you quite a bit earlier.

Can local candidates get interviewed locally?
It's possible, and you can definitely express your interest in an informal visit to the department.

What things do you look at when you evaluate a file for a possible interview?
That depends on who is looking at it, everyone has their own way of getting to a reasonably confident decision in the short time that's available. One can probably say generally for us that field match with the ad is less important than overall quality. I'll scan the cv for degree / work history information and possible publications / r&rs, glance at the cover letter to see if there is anything specific to us, read at least the abstract of the job market paper and the part in the intro that explains methodology / main argument, read abstracts of additional finished papers, and I'll get the gist of the letters mostly from the first and last paragraphs, unless the case is marginal. This goes very quickly if it becomes evident you're probably not a fit, otherwise can take five to ten minutes.