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Author Topic: Advice about resigning  (Read 10390 times)
natasha_irons
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« on: September 23, 2012, 8:07:16 PM »

Here's my situation:  I am a newly tenured associate prof.  Last year I took a 75% administrative position.  The pay is really great, and I have done a good job despite a serious lack of institutional support for my program (the place is so dysfunctional that getting anything done takes Herculean effort). 

I've been able to do a good administrative job by not putting in the time on my writing, working extreme hours on campus, and not spending enough time with my family (I have young children and a hubby at home). I want to quit my administrative job and simply be a professor and mom for a while.   Although I think I'd like to work in academic affairs on down the road, I know that it just isn't the right season in my life for this particular job.  I also know that for my tenure to be portable, I need to pick up the pace on my publications now.

My worry is that by stepping down, I will burn any chance I have of working in positions like this in the future if I end up staying at this institution (very possible, given that I work in a humanities field with poor job options and I am geographically bound for now). What will show up on my CV is one year of administrative work and a one- or two-year hole in my publications. My burnout is so great that I'd quit today if I could.  I'd like to quit at the start of next semester (January).  Any advice on the most professional, non-bridge-burning way to do this?  Or is the best thing to do is slack off and leave at the end of the academic year?
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lizardmom1
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 1:09:17 AM »

First of all, please tell me your real name is not Natasha Irons. If it is, please contact the forum administrators to have your post, etc. removed immediately.

Second of all, it sounds like you are (understandably) exhausted. Is it possible the stress of this job is exacting a toll on your health? I wonder if you can take off all (or part) of a day to see your physician for a complete medical exam.

Also, I think there is some research showing a link between stress and depression; your post makes you sound a little depressed to me. But, please understand I am NOT a qualified medical professional NOR a counselor, or anything of that sort. Therefore, I have no business telling you anything about depression, other than the fact I think it is a good idea for you to discuss this with your health care provider.

Finally, it sounds like you are in a no-win situation at work. I hope some of the more seasoned veterans on the fora will chime in with their thoughts/suggestions. Also, can you contact your major advisor (or another former professor) and ask for advice/suggestions?
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Lizardmom1

I WILL learn to smile sweetly...
natasha_irons
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 5:15:57 AM »

No, not my name IRL:).

Clinically depressed? I don't think so. Just tired.

Asking my advisor for advice is a good idea.

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jmargerum
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 6:02:13 AM »

Here's my situation:  I am a newly tenured associate prof.  Last year I took a 75% administrative position.  The pay is really great, and I have done a good job despite a serious lack of institutional support for my program (the place is so dysfunctional that getting anything done takes Herculean effort). 

I've been able to do a good administrative job by not putting in the time on my writing, working extreme hours on campus, and not spending enough time with my family (I have young children and a hubby at home). I want to quit my administrative job and simply be a professor and mom for a while.   Although I think I'd like to work in academic affairs on down the road, I know that it just isn't the right season in my life for this particular job.  I also know that for my tenure to be portable, I need to pick up the pace on my publications now.

My worry is that by stepping down, I will burn any chance I have of working in positions like this in the future if I end up staying at this institution (very possible, given that I work in a humanities field with poor job options and I am geographically bound for now). What will show up on my CV is one year of administrative work and a one- or two-year hole in my publications. My burnout is so great that I'd quit today if I could.  I'd like to quit at the start of next semester (January).  Any advice on the most professional, non-bridge-burning way to do this?  Or is the best thing to do is slack off and leave at the end of the academic year?

Your situation sounds similar to lots of higher ed administrators. We come into administrative positions and do the best we can, working hard at being administrators and in the process letting our research atrophy and cutting into our family and our own time.

If you choose to step back into your faculty role, all of us who have been down similar paths will understand. I suspect that will be the case at your institution: Most of the other administrators will have come from faculty ranks and will recognize and empathize with your situation. Whether you're seen as burning bridges will depend a lot on how and when you leave things. Timing matters a lot. Think carefully about when you'll step back so as to have the least negative impact on your institution. In the mean time, start getting things in order for your successor. Document the projects you're involved with, their status, and who the contacts are. If there are problems, do your best to fix them before you leave or at least to have recommendations as to how they can be solved.

You may find that putting a definite end date on your administrative time is in itself stress relieving. Come up with a concrete plan, share it with someone whose discretion you trust, and start moving forward. I predict you'll feel better.

Jon
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Jon Margerum-Leys
Associate dean for students and curriculum
Eastern Michigan University
hrvatski18
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2012, 7:06:40 PM »

Natasha Irons is the secret identity of a superheroine from DC Comics.   Love it!

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proftowanda
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"Righter of wrongs, queen beyond compare."


« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2012, 7:21:06 PM »

I empathize.   I had greatly enjoyed an administrative position at a functional campus.  So, I agreed to take on an administrative/teaching position at my current campus, having received all sorts of assurances of support.

In the interim, in came a new dean.  A nice guy, as now I know, but not the guy with whom I had agreements.  And new dean was overwhelmed in his first year, and mine, and that made every d*mn decision a grueling effort   -- and some decisions were to not provide the most basic support, always done before, at cost to students.

I tendered my resignation midyear, to allow for a search for a successor -- who has not endured the same, as my action woke up the dean.  I did complete the year, continuing the agony for months more and encountering some nastiness from others in the program, but that was because I did not disclose details; the guy is still my dean.

I never have regretted the decision.  I think it has cost me in some ways, but family and health matter more to me.  I only regret ever having agreed to take the position, based upon believing promises made.  Live and learn.
 
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"Face it, girls.  I'm older, and I have more insurance."     -- Towanda!
drsmarty
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 8:32:06 AM »

I had this same experience. I stepped down after two years of precisely the kind of intensity of which you speak. I learned while in the position that growth at the institution would be limited for me for other reasons.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I had to save myself, so the professional backlash could not be the main consideration in my decision.  The only part of my story that differs from yours is that I was not being paid well and that definitely factored in to my decision.
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tee_bee
I've really made it in academe, now that I am a
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 11:37:35 PM »

Natasha, if I might: If you resigned, and later sought an admin job, I'd not find that odd.

I am a senior professor and associate dean. I find the job incredibly frustrating and challenging, but since I had a reasonably good record before going into admin, I don't feel like I have "more to prove" to myself in my academic career. Indeed, I vowed never to take a significant admin job until I became a full prof. I still do research, and enjoy it even more, but not as much as I did before.

But in your case, as a recently-tenured faculty member, you may have more scholarship that you want to do, and you may feel that you cannot do it because of the job (you said as much). So, if later, in an interview, you were to say to someone like me "I stepped down because was a junior associate, missed my scholarship, and the time really wasn't right," I'd think you were making perfect sense. It's really hard to go from newly-tenured to admin. And a danger is that you get so far from your field that it's hard to return.

So, personally, I'd not find your resignation odd. It would be good, if you decide to resign, to give your boss and the team a good bit of notice--even six months--so that they can find your replacement. Good luck, and let us know what you've decided.
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tennisphd
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2012, 2:06:57 AM »

Just typed a simple reason to turn your job down.  Good Luck.
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natasha_irons
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2012, 8:24:45 AM »

 So:  I  have decided to quit at the end of spring semester.  My plan is to use family leave to work a modified schedule (Immediate boss is not too happy about that. Thanks, Bill Clinton!).  I am going to try the 15-minutes-per-day writing plan so I'll have something in the hopper by the time summer rolls around, which will get me back on routine. Now, if I could only get up the nerve to set the appointment to give my letter to the VP...

I do feel a certain sense of relief and liberation. I have never quit a job before without moving on to another ostensibly bigger or better job, so I also have that squirrelly feeling that usually precedes obsessive reading of the job notices.  The challenge will be coming back to my institution next fall.  That feeling probably belongs on the life after tenure threads, though:)

Thanks for the advice.
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