Newly minted doctoral students face a much leaner academic job market in 2017 than in the past, but Fordham’s Department of Theology has scored a trifecta: two recent graduates and one student who will finish in August have been offered full-time, tenure track positions at universities.
Eric Daryl Meyer, GSAS ’14, has been offered a position as an assistant professor of theology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. Since fall 2015, he’s been working as a post-doctoral fellow at Loyola Marymount University.
Emily Cain, GSAS ’16, has been offered a position as an assistant professor of theology at Loyola University Chicago. For the past year, she has been working as a visiting professor there.
Paul Schutz, who will graduate in August, has been offered a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University.
Department of Theology Chair J. Patrick Hornbeck, D.Phil., said the appointments demonstrate that Fordham is instilling in students the skills that other institutions of higher learning are looking for in their own professors. Cain’s appointment is especially notable, as she is the first theology doctoral student in at least a decade to be invited to join another Ph.D.-granting department.
Although sought-after areas of theology wax and wane over time (scholars of Islam were in demand after 9/11, and recently there was a high demand for scholars of Buddhism), Hornbeck said, the department has deliberately focused its resources on five distinct areas: The Bible, Christianity in antiquity, the history of Christianity, systematic theology, and theological and social ethics.
He said that doctoral students also receive guidance from Sarit Kattan Gribetz, Ph.D., an assistant professor of theology who has served as a jobs placement officer since 2015.
“As someone who is relatively close to the academic job market herself, she brings recent real-world experience and a tremendous amount of infectious enthusiasm for the good of each of our students,” Hornbeck said. “She mentors them individually, from the beginning of the academic year to when they begin applying to academic institutions outside of Fordham, and all the way through the end of the process.”
Finally, Hornbeck noted that national data shows that equal numbers of Ph.D. graduates in theology and religious studies now go from a doctoral program into a post-doctoral fellowship, visiting position, or some other full-time opportunity as move directly into a tenure track position. With that in mind the department has doubled its efforts to track and advertise such openings.
On average, the department confers doctoral degrees on seven students each academic year. In recent years, graduates have received full-time appointments at at Purdue University, Bucknell University, and several small Catholic colleges and seminaries.