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Author Topic: Going up early if you're considering leaving  (Read 2345 times)
erroneously
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« on: December 03, 2012, 1:27:37 PM »

Hello,

I'm in my 2nd year on the TT and my chair has asked me if I want to go up for tenure early. The thing is, I'm happy where I am but for geographical/family reasons I was planning to start applying for selective jobs in another region starting next year.  Am I crazy to consider saying no to the early tenure bid in order to avoid ranking myself out of the bulk of advertised assistant prof. positions?  If I do end up staying -- which I will do as long as no jobs in the other region materialize, always a distinct possibility -- would saying no to this offer send a weird vibe to my chair and other colleagues?  And if I did get early tenure and then left within a year or two of doing so, would that put a particularly bad taste in my colleagues' mouths?  Just trying to think through the politics of all this...  I appreciate any feedback!
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 2:20:15 PM »

What an unusual situation.  Can you offer more detail about why you are being asked to apply for tenure while only on the second year of your tenure-track?  Typically, people who apply for tenure early show substantial promise over and above the usual fill six-year term candidate.  How did you manage to elevate yourself in two years?  Perhaps I am incorrectly assuming you are rookie when you are in fact more advanced.

As a recent search committee chair, we had some applicants who were willing to 'demote' themselves to apply for the rookie job opening.  That was fine by us, so we didn't reject applications on that ground alone.  What is the custom in your discipline?

As for leaving after recent post-tenure, that's all in the market.  You can't delay or sacrifice your career to comfort your colleagues.  If you find a better job that's right for you, you take it.  You can mollify hurt feelings later.
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erroneously
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 2:43:22 PM »

The main reason for the early tenure-bid offer is that I'm in a book field and already have a book out, which in my department is the big hoop to jump through.  I think that if I'm understanding the timing right, I would wind up with tenure at the end of year 4 instead of year 6 if all goes smoothly.  I do understand from these boards that there are some schools that might consider a tenured person who is willing to give up tenure for an assistant job, but it also seems that there are places that would be pretty unlikely to do so.  I'm trying to get a better sense of which attitude is more common, and it's a hard thing to ask of my colleagues without giving away the fact that I might consider leaving sometime soon (which would, I'd imagine, put a significant damper on my early tenure bid's chances.)
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offthemarket
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 3:27:50 PM »

If you really do want to leave, then going up early wouldn't help and might, maybe, make things more difficult.  However, getting an interview in the last year or two before you're slated to get normal tenure wouldn't be much easier (as committees have a couple reasons that they might avoid someone coming up for tenure).

If you're planning to come up early two or years from now, I guess that's fine - but if you're leaving, you should probably do it sooner than that.

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road537
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 3:46:20 PM »

I also think that going up early and becoming an associate might actually disqualify you for many of the assistant level openings. I think that being an Assistant prof is far more marketable if you are truly hoping to move from your current institution.

(Assoc. level openings are far fewer and more competitive than the routine Asst. level opening.)
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litdawg
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2012, 3:49:01 PM »

Receiving tenure and promotion will also increase your earnings and make it harder to leave current standard of living for what new employer can offer.

As far as communicating with your chair about this, you can still sound grateful and engaged without applying immediately. "What a great thing to consider! Thanks for raising this possibility. I have [name research and/or service plan] to focus on this year, but I think I'd be very interested in going up at least one year early. Let's talk about this over the next few months so that I can make a good package next year."  That will buy you two job seasons of searching w/o the golden handcuffs of tenure weighing down your job apps, and you'll still get your raise and promotion a year earlier than most.
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arty_
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2012, 4:24:52 PM »

In some schools I have taught, remaining an assistant actually opened you to more research money and paid leave -- that money was harder to get at the associate level at a school where I taught.

My current institution is not like that. Nevertheless, my chair suggested going up early (only one year early, not two), but in my present department, there are comparatively few tenured professors, and crazy service loads for the tenured.  I realized earlier tenure  would simply get me mired in administration, and would not speed up my sabbatical clock in any way, and the financial jump was quite modest.

The point is, departmental culture may play a role, in addition to your other concerns. Best wishes with this awesome problem to have!

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tortugaphd
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2012, 9:44:17 PM »

As far as communicating with your chair about this, you can still sound grateful and engaged without applying immediately. "What a great thing to consider! Thanks for raising this possibility. I have [name research and/or service plan] to focus on this year, but I think I'd be very interested in going up at least one year early. Let's talk about this over the next few months so that I can make a good package next year."  That will buy you two job seasons of searching w/o the golden handcuffs of tenure weighing down your job apps, and you'll still get your raise and promotion a year earlier than most.

As usual, I agree with litdawg.  She always has a good way of phrasing things.

The only real upside to tenure is a raise, and if the raise at your institution isn't that much more than a cost of living increase (at mine, it's pitiable), once you factor in taxes, you're really not benefitting that much.  In addition, service duties increase.  If your ultimate goal is to make it easier for you to leave in the future, I think you have the right idea of taking as much time as you can getting to the tenure process.
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larryc
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 2:55:04 AM »

I disagree--if there is a raise involved and the path is clear, you should go up for tenure early.

Being an associate will not disqualify you from applying for assistant job openings. You will have to sell yourself, to explain clearly why you want to move to your preferred area. You will also have to convince them that you would be willing to move down in rank. These things can be done--I did them.

And face it, you might never move. Get out your calculator and some compounded interest charts and see what delaying your associate and full prof promotions will really cost. It is a lot of money to throw away.
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spork
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2012, 9:25:41 AM »

LTL. More money now is worth a lot more than the same or even less money later.
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erroneously
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 6:43:50 PM »

Thanks for all the replies, but darn -- now feeling as torn as ever.  I do realize, though, that it's a good kind of dilemma to have.  Will keep pondering.
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larryc
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 8:26:40 PM »

When trying to switch jobs your rank will be far less important than your scholarly productivity, your record of grants and external funding, your student evaluations and things like that. Whatever you do about promotion, don't fall behind in those areas.
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hiddendragon
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 3:09:59 AM »

I'm probably not qualified to make a suggestion, but I will tell you that we have a current search in our dept. and they did eliminate all the tenured folks in the first round of cuts since this was an assist. prof position that we advertised.  They made one exception to a very recently tenured person, but only after they called and confirmed that he would be willing to be demoted to AP.  They were really interested in him, too.  Otherwise, he would have been cut already without any explanation whatsoever.  Still, I think his promotion will ultimately work against him where it regards our current position unless he proves to be the most brillliantly charismatic among the final list once he arrived for the on campus interview.

The reason why we are afraid of this tenured person is precisely that we think he may just be using us to get a bump in salary at his own institution, and that he ultimately is not really interested in our position unless we accomodated him financially or in some other way that the dean would say no to.  Giving him the offer might bring lots of headaches for nothing and we may have to go to a second choice anyway.  So, yes, there is a bias against tenured folks for these reasons from what I'm observing here.
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nocalprof
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 8:21:44 AM »

I second the notion that if you're serious about keeping an eye out for other opportunities, you'll be making those other opportunities more difficult by going up early.  If you're tenurable in 2 years, you'll be tenurable in 4, assuming you don't seriously mess up in the interim.  You may be leaving money on the table by waiting a couple years, but tenured associate positions are much harder to come by these days, so you'd at least be preserving your parachute.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 11:46:59 AM »

The reason why we are afraid of this tenured person is precisely that we think he may just be using us to get a bump in salary at his own institution, and that he ultimately is not really interested in our position unless we accomodated him financially or in some other way that the dean would say no to.  Giving him the offer might bring lots of headaches for nothing and we may have to go to a second choice anyway.  So, yes, there is a bias against tenured folks for these reasons from what I'm observing here.

The reason we generally put forward: "Yes, this recently tenured person has more publications than other people in the pool, but if we advertised for "assistant or associate professor" we'd draw from a far different pool, and this candidate would not look so outstanding then." (I presume that's why the Provost's rule is that we can hire only at the advertised rank.)

 I do think, however, that if one is serious about wanting to move, and the job one really wants advertises for an assistant professor, the strategy is (as Larry C has reported), to say in the first paragraph -- maybe even the first sentence -- of the application letter that although you're tenured you are applying for and will take a position as assistant professor at that particular school and proceed to specify intellectual as well as possible family reasons for that move. We'd look seriously at someone who used that strategy and, for example, mentioned the archival resources available in our city in ways that indicated serious scholarship on particular topics -- though we'd still hire as assistant professor, with appropriate salary, and offer a two-year tenure clock.
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