I am looking for tenure track faculty position in a hard science field at 4 year colleges.

Recently a grant application, which I worked on as a postdoc, was successfully accepted. I am not a PI but by supervisor is willing subaward part of it to me when I get a new position.

My question is how do I refer to this in my cover letters? Will this set me above other candidates or is it not that important? Would making a big deal out of this look like I'm not as interested in teaching as in research?

What are external grants typically used for as these type of institutions where you don't have grad students or post-docs? Besides travel/conferences would it be to funding undergrad research and summer salary?

  • Which SLAC/PUI? I suspect Amherst, Western New England, Framingham State, and Stonehill (to stick to colleges in one state) will view this quite differently from each other. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 2:28
  • 2
    A common strategy for bragging about things you're not sure you'd want to brag about is to ask for them to be mentioned in your letters of recommendation. Your supervisor is allowed more cluelessness in their letter than you are in your application. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 2:30
  • I suggest asking the second question as a separate Q as grant usage is entirely unrelated from how to emphasize this in the CV.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 7:26

1 Answer 1


Four-year colleges are extremely diverse as to their educational philosophies, attitudes toward faculty research, and financial stability. Do you want to begin your career at a place that would react unfavorably to this potential opportunity of yours? @AlexanderWoo's suggestion to 'outsource' the bragging to your supervisor's letter of recommendation seems sound. But you should be able to mention this research connection in your cover letter in an unobjectionable way.

One hopes that cover letters will result in interviews. A common question in interviews has to do with your ideas how to balance teaching and research. Your continuing research connection provides a fine opportunity for you to think how you will deal with that question when it is asked.

Professional travel and participation in conferences can be crucial to your continuing professional development at a four-year college. You can hope that the subaward can help with that. On an assistant professor's salary, you may be very happy for the prospects for some additional summer salary.

I wonder whether it's possible to know in advance if or how you can use these funds for undergraduate research. Obviously, that depends heavily on the nature of your research and on the quality and interests of individual students. Not so obviously, it may depend even more on whether the financial officer handling the subaward at the four-year college is knowledgeable and flexible enough to handle paying appropriate students out of subaward funds.

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