I recently obtained tenure, and lo and behold, my dream job comes up, but it is posted at a lower level. I would have to go through the process all over again, though potentially being posted further along the track rather than starting from scratch.

Do people do this?

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    is not this question opinion based? Is it crazy? I have seen people doing way crazier things. Do people do this? Surely yes. People do almost everything. Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 8:33
  • I thought universities would bring you on with tenure if you're coming from a position where you already have tenure... Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 13:44
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    @MissMonicaE Not necessarily. Since a tenured position is permanent, or at least extremely difficult to terminate, there's a risk in just taking someone in straight at the tenure level. They might be a complete mismatch for the department, and nobody gets along with them. Depending on how well other faculty members know the hire, and the situation the hire is leaving--if they were already in a dysfunctional department, it may be hard to tell who is the "problem professor" and to get honest, dispassionate feedback on the hire--they may not be comfortable with that risk. Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 15:32
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    I know two people who have done this - one after 15 years at the dispreferred institution, the other after more like 25. I'm sure the latter in particular raised some eyebrows, but the person in question is reportedly delighted and so is the new affiliation. I mean, I can't speak for other fields or countries, but yes, people do this.
    – trikeprof
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 16:31
  • @SalvadorDali yes, pardon my indelicate phrasing. I suppose I was asking about others' experiences and/or potential implications of such a move based on what others have observed
    – julian
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


It's not crazy. We've had people at my elite R1 give up tenured positions to come in as assistants or even lecturers. Usually they had good reason to leave their old institution (lack of intellectual stimulus; bullying; family; etc.).

The main thing is that you need to determine exactly what you will need for tenure at the new place. Will they start you off in year 5 as a "high assistant prof?" If so, do they expect new work to come out in that single year or can you use your old tenure file in its entirety?

An elite liberal arts college or regular R1 might hire at the high assistant (if not associate), the most elite R1s might suggest you reset your assistant prof clock to zero and decide when to come up for associate on your own volition when you feel your file is strong enough.

But this might be putting the horse before the cart. You have to apply and actually be offered a position before you should worry. It's only then - and after a few rounds of negotiation- that you can make a rational choice.

Until then, apply and dream fond dreams.

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    Helpful, thanks. I wrote this questions when starting preparing the application - which is extensive - so yes very much cart before the horse, but helpful nonetheless to hear others' experiences about this.
    – julian
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 18:29
  • @RoboKaren: what things should be discussed in this process? How do the new universities deal with these situations? Will they often ask to re-apply for tenure after one or maybe three years? Should one ask to bring all these things in the offer letter? Can one ask to waive, for example, fundraising since it depends on many other parameters (being lucky, collaborations, ...) and just consider publication and teaching?
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 0:09

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