faculty job hunting ettiquette

Dianna L. Bourke dlb17 at PSU.EDU
Mon Aug 5 14:35:58 EST 1996

Julie Frugoli said about a colleague:

>This person has held a tenure track position at a small school
>(undergrad and masters) for 2 years.  He/She came there and started a
>new research direction from scratch, as well as teaching 3 courses a
>term. The lab will publish several papers in the next year (probably 3)
>in this new area, and the person is now a better job prospect than when
>he/she was a post-doc looking for a job, though they have yet to land
>outside funding.  He/she would like to look for a position at a more
>research oriented institution, but is unsure how to go about it.
>If the person sends out job applications, the chair will have to write a
>reccommendation, and so will know about the search.  My friend is afraid
>this will hurt a tenure decision down the line if a new job doesn't
>materialize.  But we are both unsure if it is acceptable to explain in a
>cover letter that the departmental reference would be sent only if my
>friend was being seriously considered for the job (at least at the
>interview stage).

I would be very careful about this. We have someone here (not in science)
that is trying to do this for various reasons (such as wife dissatisfaction
among others). Although most people can understand his situation, that does
not mean that there isn't some disgruntled feelings about it at very high
levels in the administration. Although everyone struggles to be fair in
their dealings with him, it is hard not to just write him off as not worthy
of future investment, as he will probably bolt at the first chance he can
get. He announced his intentions about 2 years ago when he thought he had a
job elsewhere sewn up, but didn't get it. Very often, small universities
and colleges feel more like a large extended family and so anyone who wants
to leave is thought to be disloyal, especially if there was a lot of money
invested in equipment, etc. On the other hand, just as in families,
sometimes the birds must leave the nest or will not grow.

I would certainly keep it low key at least until the publications are in
press. I do believe in full disclosure to one's boss, but that is just my
opinion and might not be the way to go with certain administrators.
Although this type of movement occurs all the time and it may become more
common in the future, it still does not go over well if the current
university is thought of as a stepping stone. Also, be aware that you might
lose all accrued tenure time at the new university as a move "up" often
negates tenure time at a "lower" university. I don't currently have any
plans to move elsewhere; however, if I did, I would wait until after tenure
and bargain from a position of strength and security.

Dianna Bourke

Dianna L. Bourke
Penn State Hazleton

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