More advice to new and prospective new faculty.

1. I repeat. And I cannot believe how many people make this mistake, which even I have always been smart enough not to make. Do not speak poorly of faculty to other faculty. You do not know who is friends with whom, or who may owe favors to whom. You also may not realize which apparent doddering idiot hotly defended your hire and your extravagant startup package, due to their strong approval of you and support for your field … and you may not realize that the person to whom you are making fun of them, knows this.

More mundanely, you may not realize that even if I agree with you, that person is the one I have to work with for the rest of my life, whereas you may soon leave, if you have your way, or be fired, if they have theirs. Even if I like you better than I do them, they and not you are the one with whose presence I must make peace. And finally, even if I am not thinking this far ahead, your rash speech is alerting me to your very rashness.

2. When sizing up a job, try to figure out how much debt you will be in by tenure time. If their library does not buy books, you will buy more; if they do not have travel funding, yet you must go to conferences, you will spend much more than you would if they had (full) travel funding. Really look seriously at the question of research costs for tenure, including cost of teaching as well as research materials. Figure this without counting possible grant and other one-time money, and without justifying costs by saying you will take a tax deduction for them. Figure it out realistically, assuming only the money you are guaranteed every year.

In your projected expenses, include vacation travel that is not also conference travel and 10%-20% per month savings of take-home pay so that, at the end of seven years, you will have an emergency fund equivalent to a year’s salary or perhaps a down payment on a building. Look seriously at cost of living in the town where this job lies and decide whether you can afford to go on the tenure track.




Filed under Banes, Resources, What Is A Scholar?

4 responses to “More advice to new and prospective new faculty.

  1. I ran afoul of rule #1 as a grad student, but that was because there was a political struggle going on and I was on the side of the feminists. In retrospect, I think I should have kept my opinions to myself. But it was hard to do that when I had to think and write about topics of interest and importance as a German major. I was finally forced to transfer to Reed College to get a liberal studies M.A. but by then was too fed up to continue to the doctorate.

    I do believe that had I made it to faculty I would have learned to zip my lip.

  2. Z

    That is hardly bad, you were an M.A. student and this was a political issue.

    My colleague who just got unfortunately fired, a professor, would go around saying that the one person on campus who most fights for faculty rights, a crotchety old lady but smart and who could have defended him, was senile.
    My other colleague, who will unfortunately not get fired, a professor, used to call me at home at night to complain about another older female faculty member. It got so bad, he said she deserved to be raped and would enjoy it, etc. These two cases are the kind of thing I mean. New assistant professors making huge assumptions about how much of their complete crap I and we will be willing to be tolerant of. I do not vote against people for these kinds of behaviors but I do talk to them about it; many, however, will not talk but will vote against.

  3. Hmm. I’m, wondering if as (as I presume) as a single woman you hear more male complaints than I do about how awful other women are.

  4. Z

    The problem for these guys is that they make these complaints to men in places higher than I am – who get offended and act on that. They have made unwise remarks about male colleagues as well. They do not realize people can have very old alliances and loyalties.

    I gave examples of things that have been said against older women but I could have given different examples. Women can be similarly unwise, assuming that since they are the new PhD and new hire they must be the most desired person and the one whose word will be most valued.

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