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I am at a crucial point in my career and am in need of your collective insights. This year, I've applied for an associate professorship and tenure at my current institution, and my application has favorably passed through the necessary committees but final decision not yet made.

At the same time, I've come across an opening at a neighboring, more prestigious university that directly competes with ours. They are launching a new program in my major and are in the process of hiring faculty. While the potential role is attractive and could possibly serve as a bargaining chip for salary negotiations after my expected promotion and tenure, I am hesitant.

My reservation stems from the close proximity of the two institutions and the potential for my current colleagues to learn of my application, which could adversely affect my tenure review. Offers from the competing university will likely be made around next April, ideally after my tenure decision is finalized. Yet, the prospect of negative ramifications if my application is revealed during the tenure review is a concern.

In light of this, I seek your advice: would it be prudent to apply for this new position now? Could this move be seen as a breach of loyalty? I am weighing the potential advantages against the risks and would value your opinions on whether to proceed with the application at this stage.

Your guidance is greatly appreciated.

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    If they decline tenure you are out of a job. At the worst your application, if found out, can be explained as risk mitigation. Their hiring committee should be well aware of such situations.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 22, 2023 at 18:36

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

University employment isn't like citizenship where loyalty is expected. On the other hand, it is impossible to guarantee that any advice you get will be the "right" advice since it is an attempt to predict the unknown future.

On the other other hand, it would, IMO, be unethical for anyone to make your tenure decision contingent on such a thing. But, back on the other other other hand, decisions are made by individuals who, one hopes, are rational and honest, but occasionally are not.

I think this situation isn't especially unusual, in fact. If you are considered a "great" candidate for tenure, as you seem to imply, then you will probably be looked upon favorably by another institution. But you might need to undergo an additional probationary period there. And a position at a "more prestigious" university might also imply more pressure and stress.

If I were your colleague at the current institution, I'd be happy for your advancement, either to tenure or to a better place. I certainly wouldn't try to punish you for trying to move up. Yuck.

Risky, but with potential. Life is like that. It is your willingness to accept the risks, balancing unknowns, that is key here. If you don't apply and don't get tenure all is bad. If you do get tenure then the other outcomes are all good, with some better than others.

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    Good response. I know, most of your responses are good, but this particularly so. Nov 22, 2023 at 20:58
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    In addition to what @Buffy said, I would suggest you contact the search chair and ask that your application be kept confidential for the obvious reasons.
    – Elin
    Nov 23, 2023 at 4:28

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