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I have just very recently accepted a full-time teaching position at a reputable college (hooray!). I've been employed as an adjunct the last several years with courses assigned to me generally well in advance of the academic term. This full-time offer however has come in only a couple weeks before the start of the next term. I've essentially given my other institutions only 2 weeks notice (only 10 days notice in the case of one of the schools) to find someone else to cover my originally-assigned course load (one campus had me assigned to 1 section, the other campus had me assigned to 3 sections).

It's now only occurring to me whether or not I should've given these institutions a heads up that I had an interview and was potentially leaving. I'm not sure as to the etiquette in leaving a teaching position so close to the beginning of an academic term. I honestly thought I would've received the results of my interview sooner than I did. I'm curious though if telling these institutions that I had an interview would've made them rescind their offers of employment (generally a soft offer is made in advance of the term, and a contract is signed only once the term begins). To summarize my question:

Is it acceptable in this situation to simply provide notice once an offer was put in front of me, or should I have given advanced notice to my other campuses that I had an interview and merely the potential that I would leave? Would it be proper etiquette to give a warning to these institutions of a potential departure, or could that have resulted in rescinded offers of employment?

I suppose this is a problem that other industries don't run into; in normal businesses people can leave at any time with the work uninterrupted. In academia however, institutions need to secure a reliable person well in-advance of an academic term and it's generally unacceptable for a professor to give up their teaching appointment in the middle of a term. The institutions I'm leaving have rather large adjunct pools, so maybe it's not as bad as I'm worrying it may be.

  • What is your question? I'm sure they would have preferred more notice, but it sounds like you told them as soon as you could reasonably be expected to do so. – avid Aug 11 at 22:37
  • @avid I suppose my question is more about etiquette and what's expected in this situation. Do academic institutions generally have greater expectations around leaving a position too close to the academic term, or are the expectations consistent more or less with any other industry when leaving a position? I suppose I'm asking because I don't want any of my previous bosses saying that I should've given them more notice and that I created a faux pas for them in needing to find someone else last minute. – Mnifldz Aug 11 at 22:41
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    Does this answer your question? The etiquette of leaving a faculty position – GoodDeeds Aug 11 at 22:46
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    @GoodDeeds I think this really does not apply. Going from adjuncting, which is most of the time exploitative, to a full time paid position is an obvious decision. And in general, you shouldn't tell you are leaving before you have a signed contract. – Zenon Aug 11 at 23:06
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    If they would really not want you to leave, they would pay enough money, give you enough job security and write a penalty into your contract. – user111388 Aug 12 at 15:05
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I think it's generally agreed that it is unwise to tell an employer that you might leave, that nobody does this, and that nobody expects anyone to. You only tell them when you are definitely leaving, which you did as soon as you knew. You haven't done anything inappropriate.

Your old department head is surely not thrilled about having to fill your classes with 10 days to go, but it's their job to handle such contingencies, just as if you had been hit by the proverbial bus. You weren't under contract and so you're a free agent. I probably wouldn't expect them to hire you as an adjunct again, but it seems unlikely you'd want them to anyway.

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Firstly, in academia this is an expected situation, although they are not happy, they just need to figure this out. It is very natural for you to accept a much better opportunity, especially when you are switching to a full-time position. You are not expected to tell them unless you have a definite offer and you have made arrangements to take it.

That being said, you should try to make it easier for them as much as you can. Do you know anyone that could take over - within the institution or from outside- Is there a TA that could take over, or can you ask some other faculty working on similar topics? Maybe you can provide them your teaching materials? Can you ask your new employer whether you can 1) start at a later date? 2) teach at the former institute at the same time (if location/time allows or remotely).

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    I suspect the options of later start or teaching simultaneously for both instutions are not going to be practical for a full-time teaching position, but it is at least worth considering, even if you immediately rule them out. – Nate Eldredge Aug 12 at 16:22
  • Starting at a later date is not uncommon at all, you do all your paperwork in advance too, so nothing to worry about, but it depends on the country, institution, whether it is state/private etc. Teaching at multi institutions is also not so uncommon, again depends on the intuitions' policies of course. – dusa Aug 13 at 13:59
  • I was assuming that the full-time position expects OP to start teaching a full load right away. At least for US, it'd be unusual to make a hire just before the term unless that was the expectation. A delayed start also wouldn't be very advantageous professionally or financially; you're putting off the start of a better-paying, higher-status job for one that is lower in both respects. – Nate Eldredge Aug 13 at 15:34
  • Not a great option, but a smooth one, if students are already enrolled it leaves the former institution in a difficult position. – dusa Aug 13 at 16:38

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