According to the American Association of Union Professors (AAUP),

A faculty member should not resign, in order to accept other employment as  
of the end of the academic year, later than May 15 or 30 days after 
receiving notification of the terms of continued employment the following
year, whichever date occurs later. 


An offer of appointment to a faculty member serving at another institution 
should be made no later than May 1, consistent with the faculty member’s
obligation to resign, in order to accept other employment, no later than May
15. It is recognized that, in special cases, it might be appropriate to
make an offer after May 1, but in such cases there should be an agreement by
all concerned parties. 

The few relevant comments in this thread


(e.g. comments 23, 26, 27) seem to indicate that this standard isn't important/widely observed.

However, it appears that some universities do observe it (or some variant), e.g. University of Pittsburg and University of Louisiana and Lafayette.

My questions are

  • Is this etiquette widely observed? That is, would this be a reasonable barometer of what is "ethical", or is the standard dated (if ever relevant), as indicated by the commenters in the linked thread above?
  • should I let the existence of this AAUP standard modify the way I handle accepting a pending offer that would require me to go beyond this May 15th deadline?

I'm soliciting anyone with knowledge of these matters but information from deans, department chairs, or anyone who has resigned at this late stage would be especially valuable. Thanks for any info.

Note: Previous posts of mine give a bit more (probably not relevant) background:

I want to leave my tenure track position before fall. I have great prospects but no new position "locked up": when should I break the news?

Proper "notice period" for resigning a tenure track position?

The second one is closely related but is distinct in that this question specifically is about observance of the AAUP standard that I learned about today while reading the chronicle.

Note 2: Mine is an AAUP school but does not have any explicit policy like the two mentioned above.

  • 1
    It does not seem like a practical policy given that multiple sequentual offers often need to be made to account for higher ranked candiadates turning the offer down.
    – StrongBad
    May 14, 2015 at 8:42
  • 1
    In my experience, yes, this policy is formally followed — deans do request permission from other deans to steal their faculty after May 1. But my impression (likely skewed from working at a large engineering school) is that permission is granted almost routinely, both to avoid angering the target faculty member and to avoid reciprocal refusal later.
    – JeffE
    May 14, 2015 at 10:36
  • 6
    On the other hand, I find the "30 days after receiving notification of the terms of continued employment" provision hilarious, since I sometimes get that notification after the semester has already begun.
    – JeffE
    May 14, 2015 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


I have seen faculty leave or take positions at all kinds of times during, before, or after the semester or even right after (or during!) sabbaticals. The AAUP guidelines are nice, but, ultimately, everything depends on the schools involved.

If you are concerned about ethics, I would recommend being upfront with both departments (the one you are leaving and the one where you will be hired) and coming up with something that leaves both of them satisfied.


Given that generally universities do not provide faculty with the supposedly-relevant information (salary increases... but, also, anything else that will be top-down foisted upon us) in any sort of timely fashion, it is absurd to imagine that we (faculty) have any substantial obligation to make future promises... when none have been made to us, etc.

Yes, this situation is deeply disturbing! Why can't we find ourselves in situations where both sides have made sincere, binding commitments, in all good faith? Ah, well, we should all know better than to think that any such thing is the norm in human conduct... (E.g., this is why we need unions.)

That is, the two sides are wildly disproportionate: the institution will always find a way to cover its ... obligations/butt... but it is not nearly so easy for an individual. If you are simply honest with your colleagues, but not allowing yourself to be set up for disaster, it is entirely morally correct. Ethically, sure, easily.

Such questions are analogous to asking whether it is "unethical" to try to prevent a tiger from devouring you. The only possibly ethical/moral issue is whether you escape by leading the tiger to your friend, a slower runner, and less aware of the danger. >:-(

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