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I’m So Glad To Be Here (For a While, Anyway)

Once the job search is over and the hire has arrived at campus, everyone is always relieved to see the new colleague begin to plug in to the life of the community. Nothing says “personal investment” like the purchase of a house, volunteering in community organizations, and, of course, diving in to the hard work of teaching/service/scholarship.

Then again, there are some hires who seem to drag their feet on putting down roots. By the middle of the first year, it’s becoming clear that they are continuing to network for another job. I have heard a chief academic officer say that she’s wary of new faculty who haven’t bought a house in the first two years of employment, as they may be planning to jump ship. I’ve likewise heard a dean indicate that cell-phone numbers that haven’t been updated to the local area code are indicative of itchy feet (though this observation certainly holds less validity than it once may have).

Signals of a continued search can create problems for new colleagues, as people will begin to wonder about their commitment to the life of the department or the university. If these suspicions continue when mid-tenure review or even promotion applications are considered, they can come back to haunt the candidate. What are the signs you’ve seen of new hires who are keeping one eye peeled on the exit?

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