50. John is the chair of the Philosophy Department for Orwells University. There is an opening for a new faculty member, and John is chair of the search committee. One of his former students, Oliver, has recently received his Ph.D. from a prestigious university, and John is certain that Oliver would be terrific in this job. He calls Oliver, and Oliver informs him that he would be delighted to take a job in this department under the leadership of his mentor. John’s university has procedures for hiring that require a search committee to be formed, the job be advertised nationally, three finalists for the position be identified from among candidates, and the three finalists be invited to campus for interviews. The process was quite unnecessary, and even counterproductive, John thought, knowing that two candidates would be giving up two days of their lives and his department would be tied up for more than a week going through the motions of finding the successful candidate, with thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses to comply with the college’s procedures. But John sees no way around this, and guides his committee in selecting two lesser qualified finalists compared to some others who apply for the position. John knows these two competitors will not provide much competition for his protégé, in the unlikely event he gets some resistance for his choice for the position.
a. Is John acting unethically?
b. How might a process for selecting faculty be redesigned to make it fairer to both the school and to faculty candidates?