Campus Focus: On Finding A Niche—The CMS Faculty Placement Service

October 1, 1969

Traditionally, annual meetings of professional societies offer the best access to the proverbial "slave market," where academic recruiting and placement of faculty are carried on in a feverish pace amidst the rugged schedules of the convention sessions. More often than not the idée fixe which is the binder for the hall-talk in the yearly reunions is the word, sotto voce, that the University of Wherewithall has just grabbed Professor Newly Published from the University of Eternal Ice; thereby starting the inevitable chain reaction which in three-days' time has repercussions all the way to Golden Wheat College.

Everybody knows this story and its variants, and almost everybody assumes that personal contacts—whether at conventions or by confidential telephone calls—will always be a formidable employing practice. But everybody knows, or should know, that it is an unpredictable way of finding the first job or an advancement, especially in music. When professional reputations are established it is easier to make contact with vacancies, but at that level there are fewer vacancies. There are presently about 12,000 music teachers employed in academic institutions in the United States; 1,500 of them are members of The College Music Society. Obviously, the CMS has good reason to consider the whole problem of faculty placement to be one of its most serious concerns.

The CMS has adopted various informal schemes for short periods—particularly the exchanging of availability cards at annual meetings—but the results have been minimal. The few rounds of "musical chairs," initiated by the Society with the cooperation of the American Musicological Society, at joint conventions have been won by only a relative handful of our colleagues. For the other three hundred sixty-two days of the year the CMS placement service has always been in virtual limbo. The basic flaws in this type of arrangement are the inevitable informality which prevents one's availability from being discreetly confidential, or an institution's vacancy from indiscriminate broadcasting over the land. And the lack of continuity is an insuperable problem for a society, such as ours, which has no professional staff. A placement service is a highly specialized operation which maintains contact as an impartial, objective intermediary between recruiting administrators and qualified faculty candidates. Fundamentally important in academic placement is the file of comprehensive and confidential credentials, with all-important recommendations, which each candidate must have on permanent deposit with a recognized placement agency. This file must be kept up-to-date to be effective.

With these serious considerations very much in mind, The College Music Society decided last year to discontinue its informal placement service in favor of collaboration with the professionals.

The University and College Staffing Center and American College Bureau was chosen as the official placement service for The College Music Society. The Center, in operation since 1890, is a non-profit corporation which recently (1967) listed 5,000 vacancies in all academic disciplines for 625 colleges and universities. The Center is in constant communication with employing executives through correspondence and telephone. Placement counselors study the professional profile and credentials of the members and select positions in keeping with the candidate's interests and preferences. All communications are confidential. The Center has reported that 90 faculty members and 25 student members of CMS have enrolled with the service during the past semester; several hundred CMS members already had been with the Center before the affiliation took place. The number of music vacancies, we are informed, has increased by nearly fifty percent during the past year. Rather surprising to us is the revelation that many vacancies are reported and placements made during the summer months, i.e., May 1 – September 1.

It should be emphasized that the official affiliation of the Center and the Society places no obligation on CMS members either to enroll in the placement service or to consider an enrollment as exclusive of other placement agencies. The College Music Society, by its endorsement, does recommend the service to our members for the attractive personal and financial benefits they will receive. Administrators, of course, are invited to report their faculty vacancies to the Center.

Specific details of the five-year placement service plan for members of The College Music Society can be summarized as follows:


  • Establish candidate's file of teaching credentials and confidential references for immediate and future use;
  • Descriptive notices will be sent of current positions in candidate's areas of interest and new openings as they are received until candidate finds desired position;
  • Mailing of candidate's credentials recommending him to employing executives;
  • Maintain and keep up-to-date candidate's educational record and professional status and obtain additional references as needed;
  • Storage of candidate's file during the five-year period and reactivation upon verbal notice from the candidate.



  • Membership is $10.00 for the 5-year period. [Students do not pay the enrollment fee.]
  • When members of The College Music Society accept a position through the services of the Center, the commission is as follows:

3% of the first year's salary of $10,000 or over;
4% of the first year's salary of less than $10,000
The amount due is subject to the annual audit on October 1st each year, in keeping with the agreement between the Society and the Center.
(When the college or the university pays the commission, there is no further financial obligation to the candidate.)



A charge of $2.50 per set will be made for credentials mailed upon request for positions not offered by the Center. If a position is accepted by the candidate under this service, the commission is 2% of the first year's salary.



The complete service described above may be renewed for an additional 5-year period for $10.00.



University and College Staffing Center
28 East Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60604

The Center will have a placement officer at the next annual meeting of The College Music Society at Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, in November.

11960 Last modified on April 17, 2018