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Asking a slightly unusual logistics question about changing academic jobs with future plans in place. I have organised a conference which is due to take place at my current institution next year, but I have just been offered a new job elsewhere (and therefore would no longer be employed where the conference is due to be held). Is this normal? What do people tend to do in this situation? The options I can think of are:

  • Ask very nicely to still host the conference at my former institution, even if I no longer work there
  • Try to move the conference to the new institution (problematic as the call for papers has already been released and I don't want to make life difficult for participants)
  • Turn down or ask to postpone the new job (but that would be a 7-month delay, which is almost definitely pushing it!).

Does anyone have any advice?

Thank you :)

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    I'd suspect this depends on the institution, your former and new contract, the current state of organisation, and maybe some other details. If your job offer and your willingness to take it isn't a secret, talk to everyone affected at your current instituion like head of department, room administration etc. to find out what your position is and what your options are. Also, are there local collaborators in the conference organisation who will stay at the current institution? Apr 14, 2023 at 12:08
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    I am not sure I completely understand your question: is the solution to hand over to someone else in your current institution off the table? (i.e. you absolutely want to organize this conference for some reason)
    – WoJ
    Apr 15, 2023 at 9:44
  • What would the fallback arrangements have been if you had fallen ill and been unable to host?
    – G_B
    Apr 17, 2023 at 9:46

3 Answers 3

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Moving the conference seems like the worst choice. You disrupt the plans of too many people since it has already been advertised.

Turning down the job seems also to be a bad choice if that job would enhance your career. And, it shouldn't really be necessary.

If your current department head knows of your plan to move (and they should, once you accept), then work with them to make the conference happen just as if you were still there. You don't actually need to be on the faculty of that institution to take a lead role in the conference.

But, I also suggest that you convince one of the current faculty to join you in leading the conference. This should allay any discomfort at this institution and also provide backup for things that occur along the way.

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  • The last paragraph seems key. If it's hosted using university facilities you're highly likely to need an insider to deal with booking venues and catering.
    – Chris H
    Apr 17, 2023 at 9:54
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Hopefully the conference organization does not depend on your work only. It can of course also be an option to pass on all conference related duties to somebody else as soon as possible, just like most other tasks when transitioning from one place to another. Organizing a conference is a lot of work, but not incredibly difficult, so somebody else should be able to pick up where you leave. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with handing over tasks, and you are free when starting your new position.

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  • Asker didn't indicate willingness to not host it, but how to host it given the situation. Or, that's how I interpret his list of ideas so far, anyway. Apr 15, 2023 at 9:13
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    @RubelliteFae, OP asked for options what to do in the given situation. I found it surprising that the obvious option in my answer is not in OP's list, so decided to write it down. Depending on where in the world OP is and what kind of contract OP signs with the new employer, OP might also have to discuss this with the future employer. And they might just not be happy with OP working on tasks for a past employer. Then letting somebody else take over OP's role could be the only option. Apr 15, 2023 at 10:38
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In a perfect collegiate world, your new employer would be fine with you organising the conference, and your old employer would keep you on as an (unpaid) adjunct in order to give you staff-only access to the university to organise staff-only type things.

I would go for option 1. It is a win for your old institution to host the conference; they get all the glory for it, and someone else is paying your salary!

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