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I've been in a tenure-track faculty position at an R1 for just over a year. I want to leave this position for a non-academic job, but have not yet lined anything up. I haven't made a decision about when to leave or give notice, but my intention is to give the university at least a few months' notice.

My question is about my research lab, which I run with startup funds. What can I expect to happen to my remaining startup funds and lab space once I announce my intention to leave? Do faculty in this situation normally continue to have access to startup funds, or does funding typically get cut off? My main concern is whether I'll be able to continue paying my employees until my departure.

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    Normally your employees have contracts. What do the contracts say? What about your contract? – Anonymous Physicist Jan 16 '17 at 4:36
  • I don't have a contract -- I was given a three-year appointment. I have a letter from the department specifying the startup funds and lab space, but it doesn't address this situation. My employees also do not have contracts. – asstprof Jan 16 '17 at 4:53
  • Are your "employees" full-time lab technicians or graduate students? if students, the department will almost certainly make efforts to find other faculty advisors for them. – Brian Borchers Feb 28 at 4:24
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I left my former R1 for another university last year. Like you, I had research funds and two labs. I'm in the social sciences so your mileage may vary.

I spent down my research funds as much as possible. In the last months, I asked all my grad students what books and equipment they wanted and bought them whatever they needed. I tried to reimburse their conference travel where I could. I'm pleased that I left with just a small balance remaining.

I did not give instructions to the disposal of my labs. They both reverted back to the department which I'm sure has its own plans, but I thought it best for my own mental health not to try to dictate what would happen to them -- and I haven't inquired since I left. That path would just lead to frustration and tears. But I was in full control of the lab until the very last day they were in operation.

If you're a PI on a grant, you could ask the agency either to: 1) let you transfer to the new university; 2) assign a new PI or co-PI at the old university to take over the grant; or, 3) terminate the grant if neither are possible.

  • The last paragraph is a bit off topic. – Anonymous Physicist Jan 16 '17 at 5:57
  • @AnonymousPhysicist - perhaps, but the last few questions were about paying employees and funding being cut off. If one has a grant, that helps alleviate those problems (but does raise the question of what to do with the grant, which Karen went on to address). – Jon Custer Jan 16 '17 at 16:06
  • It was off topic for me (I don't have a grant and am running on startup funds) but may be useful for others. Thanks RoboKaren! Regarding the lab space, my main question was not what will happen after I leave, but whether I might be pressured to move out of it before leaving. I have premium lab space that the dept. might want to use for someone else. It sounds like that did not happen to you, which is helpful to know. – asstprof Jan 16 '17 at 19:34
  • You are a full employee and standing member of the department until the very last day of work. Don't let them pressure you to vacate early. You can to be polite but you have no requirement to. – RoboKaren Jan 17 '17 at 8:36

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