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I've been offered a TT job at a very small school: 4-4 teaching load and no research other than educational research. Poorly organized interview process and just felt lots of red flags. For example, I'm also fairly certain this campus will close at some point, as they are removing majors close to the one I teach. I also will not be able to move to another TT job if I take this one, without having any research in this position and no postdoc- so I think this is not a good fit for me.

The problem is I'm also interviewing for a postdoc at a top rated university, and this TT job would give me the money needed to go (expensive city). Without this job money, I will be going into debt for postdoc.

Do I take a TT job for one academic year and tell them in Nov that I am leaving after May? (giving them some time for a search). Or is this a terrible thing to do? I mean I might like it and stay, but I am really committed to doing a postdoc. I've also considered declining but telling them if they need a one year term faculty I could do it.

Any thoughts on how to navigate are helpful!

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    Ethics of the question aside, I’m a bit confused by your timeline — a postdoc starting 9 months from now is January 2025, so it’s not clear where May comes into play. Also, notifying the university in November that you’re leaving isn’t really enough time to post an ad for that hiring season — the ad should be up by September/October, and it takes time to go through the administrative procedures to put up the ad.
    – RLH
    Apr 4 at 5:22
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    Why would you be going into debt?
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 4 at 11:32
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    And consider that wherever you apply next will contact people at that institution. Leaving them in the lurch will not reflect well in your future hiring processes.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 4 at 11:34
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    I think that would be a pretty mean thing to do to a department willing to invest in your career. Apr 4 at 15:10
  • 2
    If academia doesn't care about your financial well-being why should you care about academia?
    – winawer
    Apr 4 at 20:42

3 Answers 3

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I don't see a problem as long as you are honest with them. Your suggestion that a one year position would be better indicates that you are, and will be. They can take whatever action they think is appropriate to cover their needs.

But, again assuming you are honest, a continuing contract might be better for you as a backup in case things go wrong elsewhere, or in case you change your mind about the place and its future.

Consider also how easy or difficult it will be for you to keep in contact with potential collaborators. The location of the place might be a factor, whether it is isolated or in a place with other universities.

While the teaching load is high, I doubt that it will challenge you much if the place is small (small classes) with courses you are already qualified to teach. It will take time, of course, especially in that first (only) year.

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    Why would a department be willing to end a tenure track search to put someone in the job for 1 year. If "being honest with them" involves telling them that there's no intention of staying in the job for more than one year, why in the world would a dean sign off on this?? Apr 4 at 15:12
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    @ScottSeidman, the point was being honest so that they can decide. I don't know what they might do, but a small place might have a lot of flexibility. If they have few other options at the moment it might work out.
    – Buffy
    Apr 4 at 15:16
  • No idea why someone downvoted this. Apr 5 at 2:37
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Regardless of the route(s) you do choose to take, as others have already said, just be transparent. You will never lose by being upfront about your needs/plans/desires, and your prospective employer will only respect you more for it.

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the problem is I'm also interviewing for a postdoc at a top rated university

You are assuming a bit too much here. You can have 1 year money for sure, and you are weighting it again a possibility starting in 9 months.

I am sure the start of the postdoc you are discussing can be deferred. So you can have both. Or only one (the current teaching). Or none of them.

Regarding the college currently offering you an one-year position, they must know you are looking for something else and there is a small chance you will leave earlier. If not, their bad, nothing in your behaviour would make them more in trouble than they already are by not thinking about the consequences of having one-year contracts.

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  • As best as I can tell, the school making the offer is not using one-year contracts. The OP seems to want to use a less-desirable TT position as if it were a one-year contract.
    – RLH
    Apr 5 at 21:41
  • Tenure track is still a one year contract, technically, every year, until tenure. At least that's how it's been in my experience. Of course there is an expectation of the contract being issued.
    – jdods
    Apr 6 at 0:52
  • OP is in doubt between "getting in debt to get a future position" and "being a coordination problem for an institution". As I see it, OP is putting is physical existence at stake against the well-being of an institution. This is borderline slavery, and it is self-inflicted!
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 8 at 6:13

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