My experience goes like this: I am tenured at a big university, but have
been interested in a "program leadership" position. I have interviewed
a couple of times over the last couple of years, one of these at a small
college. In addition, discussions with students and colleagues who have
a degree from a small college suggest the following.
1. Teaching is important. Most small colleges need someone to contribute
to the teaching program immediately, so experience is valuable.
2. The PhD school is important. Many small schools want the best (they
have high standards for the students they take) so they want faculty from
the "best" schools.
3. The BA/BS school is important. Many small, liberal arts schools are
suspicious of people who have degrees only from large institutions. There
is genuine concern that the balance between teaching and research and the
relationship between student and faculty will be misunderstood by people
from large, often impersonal, instutions.
I do not believe these are all barriers, just considerations to be addressed.
Smaller schools are very different places from research universities, even
though many are outstanding research institutions in their own way (many
emphasize undergraduate participation in research, so the faculty must remain
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