This fall I started a tenure track position. They offered me a very good start-up package. Half of it was state money for buying equipment and the other half was for course release, research assistants, travel and etc. Also I had a promise for spouse support and that had huge impact on accepting the offer (unfortunately this one was not written!).

Now, I see that the only thing I can use is the state money which is more than enough. However, the equipment is not the only thing I need. Obviously, I need students for my research too. It's my second semester and they have not even sent me my written contact yet. Their false promises have put me and my family in a very difficult situation.

What can I do now? What are my rights? Obviously, I am not planning to stay here. But cannot leave off without doing anything. I do not want other families go through the same situation as me! Other faculty members have almost same issues but no hope for any change.

Note: for the start-package I have an email as proof. Also, initially, the university was required to pay equal amount as state money to new faculties.

  • 6
    How were you hired without a written contract? What country?
    – Dawn
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 19:18
  • I'm rather amazed that you have even gotten paid without some sort of contract...you have gotten paid sometime since you started, right?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 19:36
  • 2
    Keep careful records of everything you've discussed, make sure you send an email after every in person conversation with a summary of what was discussed / promised and insist on getting your contract finalized ASAP. I don't know what other advice you could possibly be expecting to get.
    – user133933
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:16
  • 3
    If you want legal options (which makes sense) then you should consult a lawyer. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:53
  • 1
    If you have offers now you've been interviewing through the start of your current job? This doesn't exactly feel on the level anymore.
    – user133933
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


My strong advice is that you take an offer from a better school and just do what is needed to get through the year as best you can. If the place is as bad as this then you, with little institutional power behind you, aren't going to make a difference. You will be stomped like a bug. I was once in a bad situation (perhaps not this bad) and went for the door by the shortest route possible, simply saying goodby to the insanity. It worked out fine. As in your case, I wasn't going to get anything from any other action.

In particular don't say things that might come back to negatively affect your own career. Suing them might be an option, but it requires a hard talk with a lawyer first and threatening it isn't going to get you a positive outcome.

I realize this is hard advice to take, but you have a good option and you don't want to do things that antagonize people and that will cause blow-back on yourself.

You are fortunate to have a good option. Take it. Others aren't so lucky.

  • Thank you very much for your kind advice. Probably that was the best that I needed to hear! Thanks
    – Madison
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:44

The email you got from the provost is the only contract you have until you get a new contract.

What can I do now? What are my rights?

Ask a lawyer.

If the email you got from the provost does not provide you with what you want, then you should leave the job.

  • 2
    Anything other than "ask a lawyer" from someone who has not seen the email and read your local law could be very wrong. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:45
  • If you have a union, you could ask your union's lawyer. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:45
  • 1
    I'm not a lawyer, either, but I worry that letters, as opposed to contracts, might be filled with "weasel words" that cover them. But, yes, if you contemplate legal action, the only proper course is to do it after consulting a lawyer and that consultation prior to any threats to sue.
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:54

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