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Author Topic: what is more important with a first tenure-track job? school name vs. salary  (Read 5792 times)
kelly75
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« on: April 26, 2012, 12:07:19 AM »

I'm from Canada and not very familiar with the ranking of universities in the US, specifically what schools might be considered better to have on one's CV than others. I know this will also vary depending on the specific field one teaches in. Is there any info on this website about school rankings?

I have received an offer from school A (small public university in small city in southern US) that I have to act on quickly and am about to have a phone interview with school B (very large public research university in fairly big city in mideast US). School A has agreed to give me half of a course release for the first year (to complete my PhD) and a salary that is about 10% higher than what Asst Profs make at school B (based on last year's salaries for this specific department). The school A offer was achieved through a counter-offer I made to which they responded with a final offer of 14.5% more than their original low offer.

I need to respond tomorrow to school A so they can send the official contract out and then once I receive the contract I will have 10 days to return it. I intend to use that time fully since I will be waiting to see if I am invited for a campus visit to school B along with an additional school that has yet to make a shortlist.

The main question I am posing here is:
What if school B can not match what school A has offered but school B might be better to have on my CV?
Because school B is more established overall with a much, much bigger department and more colleagues to connect with, should that count for something even if they might not match the salary?
I know that school B hasn't even offered anything yet but I was solicited to apply for the job so my chances seem higher than many of my other applications in the past. Either of these would be my first tenure-track position after working as an adjunct in Canada for 10 years.

[The other question about this is of course timing... and the conundrum I will be in if school A will not give me time to even explore the option of school B. (And then there is also this potential school C that I won't even know about until the day I have my phone interview with school B. But let's leave that for another thread...]

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hegemony
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 12:53:05 AM »

How a school looks on your CV does not matter much once you get a job.  The reasons schools matter on your CV is so you can get a job.

But you will need to reply to School A before you know about School B.  There are a lot of threads on this topic.  Playing around with the search function will probably find them.  The timing issue is a separate one from the school-prestige issue.

In choosing between jobs, the main criteria wouldn't be alleged prestige, but teaching load, salary, and other perks.  But anyway, you're not in that position.  For you it's School A or turning them down to gamble on School B.  To my mind the clear answer is: accept School A's offer.
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kelly75
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 1:16:05 AM »

Thanks. Yes... there's a few different things I'm dealing with and I have been searching for a range of related terms in the forum discussions. Here I am mainly just picking people's brains about school status... maybe because I am a bit weary of living in the middle of nowhere with less people with similar interests.

cheers.
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larryc
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 2:05:59 AM »

Bird in the hand.
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busyslinky
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 6:23:23 AM »

How did you determine the average assistant professor salary at School B?  There is a pretty large variation in salaries and salary compression does occur. 

From where I stand, name of school/prestige does play a role if you should decide to move.  That is why there is sometimes talk of 'lateral' moves and such things.  A seems to be a lower rung than B. 

But, don't count your eggs before your basket or something like that (going along with the bird in hand saying).  If you have had lots of luck and ample choices with offers in recent searches, then maybe you can wait.  If not, the risk of turning down a very fair offer is too large.

Good luck.
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kelly75
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 5:27:53 PM »

Thanks for the input.
School A and School B are both funded by state so I was able to access what the faculty in each department have made for the past few years - took a while to find it though. I don't trust any of the sites that post averages... I think each university department can also be quite different, yes? My offer from School A is $5000 above what the highest paid Asst Profs make in the dept in School B... and appears the highest ones were the new Asst Profs, so they likely negotiated.

I know I will be accepting the offer from School A but I will have 10 days after I receive the actual contract in hand. I'm stretching out the process as long as I can to see what will happen with the other schools... but I may just have to stop at some point since I likely won't know exact amounts with School B (and if they will do a full/partial course release) by the time I have to give a definite answer to School A.

Another tidbit is that School B is unionized with a collective agreement and School A is not... Being from Canada where unions are the norm, that's a factor to think about.
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octoprof
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 5:35:35 PM »

Bird in the hand.

This.
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polly_mer
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 6:19:22 PM »

Keep in mind that salary alone is not as important as salary compared to cost of living.

$45K in the hinterlands will probably go a lot farther than $70K in a major city.

However, if you have to decide right this second, then I would compare the salary offered to the cost of living in that place and take the bird in the hand as long as the salary will provide a reasonable standard of living.
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2012, 6:49:58 PM »

Where would you rather live for the next five years?
Secondly, why do you care about your CV? Are you planning to move to another university soon after you take the job?
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niceday
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2012, 12:33:53 PM »

If in a field where one can move, pick the school that will make your CV look best in five years in terms of publications. Even in mediocre schools, people who can get outside offers can make a lot more than their peers.

If you are in the humanities, well. Pick as if you might retire there.
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snowbound
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 10:17:48 AM »

What about teaching load and research expectations?  A poor fit in these areas will make you more unhappy than a difference of a few thousand dollars.
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mazerunner
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 8:04:30 AM »

I would imagine that what you do while you are employed at either school would matter more than the school's actual name.  So I think your own performance is more important than the school's name or salary, at least in terms of long-term goals if you decide to move onto another university later.

It sounds like University A is trying to accommodate you by giving you a reduced course load.  That's a very good thing.  The fact that you have an offer is even better.  In this job market with budget cuts and tons of applicants for each position, the obvious course of action to me would be to accept School A's offer and not look back.  You don't want to run out the clock so much that you end up having the offer rescinded.
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losemygrip
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2012, 10:22:57 AM »

I think it's a mistake to reduce this to just academic reputation and salary.

You need the big picture on both options.  Do you like the area?  Do you like the colleagues?  Does one give more research support?  School B may be bigger and better known, but if the faculty are at each other's throats, it won't matter.  Better to have one or two supportive colleagues that 15 hateful ones.  Or vice versa. 
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