Although Stony Brook may be well-known for its science programs, they are not the only thing the school has to offer. The arts program produces many successful students as well, thanks mostly to a talented group of faculty in the various departments.
While science professors can be chosen based on research, discoveries or a Ph.D, instructors in the arts—whose jobs range from research to composition and performance—are often selected through a process similar to an audition. A sign that despite the field, Stony Brook takes its hiring seriously.
“Performance faculty are chosen on the basis of the quality of their musical performances,” said Judith Lochhead, a professor of music history and theory in the music department. “[This] can be measured by listening and considering both recorded and live performances. We look to see if the person has recordings, where they perform and what kind of critical responses there are to the person’s performing.”
The performing faculty often pursue careers elsewhere, like the New York City Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
In the part of the art department that focuses on art history, potential candidates are judged on their previous work as well as their potential for great work in the future. Most recent hires in this department are for the position of assistant professor, who tend to be younger and less experienced in the field than established faculty.
“Candidates likely to mark a field and make names for themselves will contribute to graduate and faculty recruitment that help to define the department,” professor of art history James H. Rubin said.
History is an integral part of the music department hiring process as well, primarily when it is looking for individuals with the ability to actively teach students.
“The history/theory faculty write articles and books for their research and advance our understanding of past and present musical practices,” Lochhead said. “These faculty are chosen on the quality and quantity of research. We also look for people who will be good teachers.”
Teaching is only one of many talents an employee in the art history department must display.
“Very important in a small department such as ours is willingness and potential effectiveness to serve in various administrative, advisory and campus-wide responsibilities,” Rubin said.
Although the criteria and talent that Stony Brook University professors are hired for vary between departments, they are all invaluable parts of the university experience.
“The arts are an essential part of human life,” Lochhead said. “There is no present or past culture that does not have various forms of artistic expression, and as such study of the arts should be included in university education. As Deleuze and Guattari [French Philosophers] indicate, there are three major forms of human thought: philosophy, science, and the arts.”