Taking Stock

I spent the day in the car, driving through the desert and around town. Music on the stereo (the Black Angels "Passover," if you're interested, who probably sound a little like the Doors except the Doors leave me cold and the Black Angels don't), and the windows down.

In the near distance, a mountain beckoned. The sun felt heavenly, and just being able to roll through town reading street names that sounded like they'd been named not just for saints but for lost lovers was more relaxing than I can tell. One thing I think the Southwest has over the rest of the country is the names of places: San Mateo, Esperanza, Villa Maria, Soledad....I could go on.

Lunch was at a little dive: a combination Mexican plate that was to die for. It's nice to see the old travel rules still work: the best places to eat always have the most police cars out front of them at lunch time.

The trip was good; there were a lot of questions after about the presentation, and I got a chance to reconnect with some old colleagues. And, with the exception of whatever edits come on the book, this more or less ends the research related part of my school year though now I've got a paper I can try to work up to something for the start of next year and the new job, plus two presentations in the pipeline. I like having a day after the conference hoopla to enjoy the place I'm visiting, though it happened by accident this time.

Life is, I think, moving along nicely.

Like a Classroom with Wings

On one of the legs of my flight out here, a flight attendant laid down a spontaneous quiz on the passengers and then gave them a lecture because no one paid attention during the pre-flight safety features briefing.

"How many exits does this plane have?" he asked.


"You know, this could save your lives, right?" he said.


"How many exits?" he demanded.

And eventually there were a few sputters, including my own (there were four exits, by the way - two at the front, two over the wings, not counting the escape hatch at the top of the cockpit). I had to admire his determination, particularly as it required him to walk a tougher line than I would want to: I mean, do you really want to suggest to people on a plane just how dangerous things can get? I could see he was struggling to say something like "You know, there have been two big plane crashes in recent weeks." or "We're going to fly over water."

I, of course, have a love/hate thing with authority. I like it when I have it; I rebel when anyone else does. So I appreciated the attempt, because I think airports are one of the places you can see just how far from rational, organized, capable of following simple instructions our society has gone. I listened, for example, to someone attempt to enforce order in the boarding process. And really, the boarding process is a great study in our obsession with the idea of "first" even if there is no real benefit.

Think about it. Being first on the plane just means you have to move constantly to let people into your aisle. It means you spend awhile longer sitting in an uncomfortable seat. It doesn't get you better seating. It doesn't get you a free drink/pillow/whatever the airline is charging for these days. But we all feel the need to cram in.

Having traveled a very little bit in other countries, my desire for order and rules is sometimes rewarded. Boarding a plane in Munich, I watched a tall, blond German flight attendant scold an over-eager passenger to the back of the boarding line after their failure to obey instructions about boarding. I don't think I"m overstating when I tell you that moment and the look on the scolded passengers face made me feel positively post-coital. Air travel rarely offers anything close to that. At least for me.

So I felt for that attendant on my flight out. It was a bit like my classes this term, where students are lost to all manner of things. I'm considering putting a restriction on all technology that comes after pen and paper because of just how bad it's gotten. And my classes can't possibly be the worst, since I've already got a fairly rigorous set of policies in my syllabi.

Of course, I bet it would work better if I could share that sense of falling from the sky that a lecture gone bad sometimes gives with my students.

Where I Went Wrong, Where I Went Right

I'm in a hotel room, hours after my presentation. Tom Selleck is "The Daily Show" talking about his brain damaged sheep and how ugly cows are. I'm certain this somehow reflects badly, because I'm too tired to turn off the t.v., let alone to try and make sense of what he's on about.

The day's been good. You know a day that starts with huevos rancheros is off to a quality start. This is one thing they're missing where I currently live: good Mexican breakfasts. The day was warm and sunny, and the time difference only screwed up once, though it did so in a profound and humorous way: causing me to panic that I was about miss my presentation because the clock on my computer is set for the back home's time zone. Around the time I was eating my much anticipated barbecue dinner and beer, the time change decided to open up a serious can of whup-ass on me.

I am torn between my 3-year-old-like desire to fight sleep as much as possible, and my slightly more mature college-student-esque desire to justify going to bed as early as possible because life and time zones justifies any bedtime I please.

The presentation wasn't as tight as I would have liked, but it went over pretty well for my first stab at this new project. This conference is particularly good for this presentation because there's a sizable group of folks doing related work from a variety of perspectives. The feedback actually helped justify my dissertation (soon to be a book coming to a book catalog near you). So I'm feeling good.

But tired. And now I"m off to bed, I think.

Plug and Play

I hate that I've become one of those people who carries a billion different cords with me when I travel. Last night, as I was packing, I found myself gathering the laptop cord, the sync for my iPod, the charger for my digital camera. In the airport today, I found myself staring daggers at the people who found working outlets. And if they took up more than one of them, I tried exploding them with the power of my brain.

It works, seriously. I've just been tired lately. I'm sure some people got nasty headaches, though, such is the power of my mind.

Washington-Dulles is particularly frustrating because they have designated spots to charge your gadgets, but they're only semi-functional, as there's barely any surface area for something to rest on, and typically, there are only two seats nearby. Worse, the cellphone zombies are particularly thick in Dulles, meaning no one is safe to walk because half the population can't be bothered to look where they're going.

Of course, what they're ordering at Wendy's just might be so important someone 3,000 miles away must know right away.

These complaints must, of course, be taken with a grain of salt as I am blogging from my hotel room, after all. Don't explode me please.

Finger-waggers, salt-rubbers, to your marks...

Remember way back when, I mentioned that my assignment load was going to come back and bite me in the ass? Probably a few of you thought, in classic academic Vaudeville fashion, "then don't set up assignments like that."

That's right. I'm in grading hell, trying to get set for a conference and make it so that midterms has something truly fair to report. And so, now is your chance, my darlings. It worked for Groucho, and it'll work for you. So:
Doctors, it hurts when I have to grade all this.
And you say...

Ooh, I Bet You Wonder How I Knew

Apologies to Marvin Gaye, but "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" seemed true for the topic of leaving an academic job on so many levels. The question I've been meaning to get to about the job search has been the question of how it impacted things here, at the school I'm soon to depart.

Ash asked some tough questions in her comments on the previous job tracking post:
...what kinds of reactions you're getting from colleagues, students, family etc.

Is it even possible to control the spread of information at a SLAC, where everyone seems to know everyone else's business? If nothing else, how do you keep friends/well-wishers/whoever from spilling the news on Facebook before you're ready to tell the world at large?
Dealing with life after the job offer has been one of the most confusing and difficult parts of the process for me. As I've said before, I love my department, so there's a sizable risk in leaving that the place I land won't be the community I have here. I'm rolling the dice in that regard, though the hope is that more resources, better pay, and an environment I think I'll enjoy more will make up for any problems.

The short answer to those questions is: you can't stop the grapevine, but you can contain it now and then.

Keeping a lid on things was tough. My roommate teaches at the same university, for starters, and most of my friends in the area do as well. And it's impossible to keep them out of the loop. Compound that with the fact that at least one person in your department is likely to serve as a reference for you if you're at the point I'm at - untenured and trying to leap from my first tenure-track job to another. And if they're halfway observant, the people you work with know the signs anyway: short, unexplained trips are a pretty big tip-off, for example, particularly if they aren't happening at conference season for your discipline.

I actually think, to what extend you're able, it's better not to try and be secretive about the process, though there are certainly times it is better to. I let the senior faculty know awhile back that I was looking for a job, in part because I needed letters but also because I like this department and my hope is that I leave in as good a shape or better than I found it, and one thing that means is that they've got to have time to prepare for my absence. I also tried to let them know why I was looking to leave: that the salary here wasn't enough, that being here made it harder to deal with aging parents, and that the resources I need aren't here.

Of course, that doesn't mean you volunteer everything either. For example, I didn't tell anyone about my interviews, but I would have had they asked. I'm sure they knew that I was going - in fact, at least one colleague told me after the fact.

Where I did intentionally keep quiet about things was once I had an offer, because that was stressful enough without having to answer questions at my door. And it kept me from having to think about a counter-offer from my current school. Probably I should have been glad to have gotten an offer, as it would have helped me negotiate a better position, but again, knowing I want to leave made it seem unfair to people and a program that's been very good to me. In any case, I've been direct in asking the folks who know not to say anything - and if there were particular people I didn't want to know, then I said so directly. Here, and probably everywhere, there are a few key folks who can't keep a secret to themselves, so you've got to prepare for that. But I think you have to assume that sooner than you probably want, word is going to get out.

Even now, with word well out and about, I find talking about taking a new job awkward. There are a lot of Institutional Believers here, who can't imagine why anyone would ever leave this place, and they seem to take these things very hard. I have a colleague whose back visibly stiffens every time word of my departure is heard. The day the story broke, that same colleague seemed unable to look at me or speak to me until I broached the subject directly. I worry that others are going to take this personally as well, though so far everyone - even the rigid backed academic I just spoke of - indicate that they understand. The topic came up at a gathering a few nights ago, and it was the most awkward I'd felt in years.

And, of course, I haven't figure out how and when to tell students. It's an interesting moment, having seen colleagues leave before, that gives insight into how students see faculty. Really, in their minds, some faculty become fixtures - less a part of the scenery in their college dramas than a really important prop.

Okay, maybe that metaphor doesn't work.

In any case, they like their worlds well-defined (as we all do, really), and most of them (in my experience, at least) don't understand how academia works in anything but the most rudimentary fashion so it isn't surprising that for some students the sudden departure feels particularly distressing. And with some of them, I do feel like I'm abandoning them. I've found myself composing a sort of last will and testament to the department, a list of little things to do and watch out for once I'm gone with particular students. I think, really, I'm probably only a couple of weeks away from meaningful hand grasping and hushed words of wisdom, like some dying octogenarian in a made-for-tv movie.

Of course, they aren't tied into the same grapevine, so it's entirely possible that a lot of them wouldn't know if I don't tell them until they turned up at the start of next term to see I'd been replaced by that lovable pinch-hitter "Prof. Staff." It would almost be easier if they were privy to faculty/administration gossip, because then I wouldn't have to chose the moment (or none at all).

See, Marvin had it right: there's heartbreak attached to this, even when the decision was an easy one.

Academic Freedom, Workers Rights Tested

Just came across this in a couple of places, and thought I'd share it. It's a petition in support of Dr. Loretta Capeheart, a professor at Northern Illinois University, who has come under fire for her work with worker's rights groups, student protest groups, and for simply speaking out at her university.

Give it a look. I'm trying to find a link to some places that provide a bit more information, and as I come across them, I'll update this post.


Ash asked in the comments a post or two back for me to talk about the aftermath of the process of taking a job, particularly in terms of dealing with things within a department that is now losing me as a faculty member. That's a great idea, and one I've been trying to get to all week, because dropping the news has been a process.

But the week has been busy with a lot of student movement on campus, and trying to support that has taken up some time. Maybe more importantly, though, the particular moment and the university's response to it have laid bare some of the peculiarities of life as an untenured professor. My current "one foot out the door" status has placed me in an interesting spot here, primarily by allowing me some freedom many of my colleagues don't feel. In some ways, it's let me have a final word that I wouldn't have otherwise - punctuation, if you will - and in other ways, it's let me speak a little more clearly and a little more loudly than I otherwise might.

By way of context, I'm at a small, religious liberal arts school that's been feeling the pinch of religion a little bit more strongly. We've also been struggling with questions of diversity, particularly since the election. The movement has been spearheaded by students and by young, untenured faculty. It has been positive. It has been well-received. And, in hindsight, it has been relatively straight-forward and easy.

I know, I know: matters of race and diversity are never easy. But here's the thing: here, at least, even the racists think racism is wrong. They just don't see their part in it. So when the university wanted to tackle questions of race, nobody disagreed or threw much in the way of a fits.

In any case, I've spent the better part of the year serving with this group of young, untenured faculty who came together over the racism on campus, and we've been basking in the glow of administration support and planning our little untenured heads off. After our first official meeting, though, when the suits had left the room and it was just us, we all realized we were in a very difficult position. First, there wasn't a single tenured faculty member in the group - none had come forward about the event as we had. Second, we realized that the university's view of diversity - given to us a straight forward definition the school had come up with - and the definitions we were working were at odds. And by so publicly addressing the question of racial and ethnic diversity, we also opened the door were there problems with other types of diversity.

Hint: there are a lot of other diversity issues.

And so, we were left with a question about how to deal with this conflict. We could, fearing for tenure and taking the long view, say "this conflict isn't right, but we can't address if it overtly, particularly if we don't get tenure and can't stay to do so in subtle ways?" or we could say "This must be addressed now."

Because we're a faculty committee, it shouldn't be surprising that while we were struggling with this, the question became moot. A student movement sprung up, seeking university support in forming a Gay/Straight Alliance on campus.

Now, for those of you not in the know, Catholicism's views on homosexuality would appear to be, at best, conflicted. There are, for example, a number of openly gay priests. I'm told there is even an openly gay president of a Catholic school or two. The Church, however, prefers not to lend support to anything that might be seen to support homosexuality. See? Complex. And that's without me getting sarcastic.

The students have been making their case exactly the right way, I think. They've written a mission statement for themselves, and they've sought the support of the university community at large to lend support. They've got petitions with lots of pretty signatures.

There was even talk of a faculty petition. But it was very quickly suggested from on-high - in no uncertain terms - that petitions are a bad idea. Tenured faculty appeared outside the doors of folks signing the petition, waving their arms and crying for caution because, they said, names would be taken. One administrator, testing out both sides of his mouth, even said "Well, of course it's okay if untenured faculty sign it." followed by "Of course, their names will be noticed and remembered."

All of which leads back to the first, most useful benefit of how taking a new job has affected me in the old job: I get to be very frank. And I don't have to be scared off of things. I've had the rare privilege of talking in meetings about this. I got to sign the petition without fear of reprisal. I got to sign off my career here in the best possible way: by trying to actively make the place better and by doing what I think is right. And while I'd have signed the petition regardless, having told some very personal stories and put my integrity on the line in an earlier event with a story I told and a challenge to students, I wouldn't have been able to do it without great hesitation. Leaving allows me to do the right thing, publicly, loudly, without mincing words.

I'm feeling bad for my friends here in the group I'm working with because they've some very clear reason to be warned off speaking up about what they think the right thing to do is. I can see in their faces when we're talking with anyone outside of the group how that prohibition is like a maddening itch. They're rubbed raw by it. They want to sign, to lend their name and support and to feel like they have a voice in the process here.

And what's most intriguing is that this, too, places the school in a tough spot that I hope they see. Currently, untenured faculty make up the majority of faculty positions. And they make up nearly all of the forward progress from the faculty side of things. They're the ones researching, the ones putting all of the mission statement buzzwords into practice. And at least some sections of the administration are starting to recognize the uncomfortable crossroads everyone is sitting at.

Commonalities and Reflecting on Application Packets

So one question that came up (offline) about how to follow up on the Job Tracking posts and to help make sense of this whole job process was to talk in a bit more detail about the job. I'll broaden it a bit to talk about the jobs.

Really, there isn't a lot of similarity between the two positions I was offered. One I could do; one I really wanted to do. But the approach to applying was largely the same for me in both cases. Both applications asked for the basics: a letter and a C.V. In this case, both of the jobs that gave me offers asked for contact information rather than letters of reference. Though both were ostensibly Research I positions, only one wanted samples of my research; that school also wanted statements on research and teaching. The other asked for a teaching portfolio (whatever that means).

In my case, the teaching portfolio has been something I've struggled to make work. I used to send them the kitchen sink, and as you can imagine, that seemed to do nothing. Now, I've begun to tailor my portfolios. This is possible, in large part, because here at my SLAC, I've taught a wide variety of courses with many outside of my traditional area. That gave me more flexibility in terms of the jobs I could apply for than I might have otherwise had. And I believe it accounts for why the two jobs I received offers from were so markedly different.

In the teaching portfolio, I include a short statement about each class - things I want someone to know going in (for example, I teach Research Methods and have worked to align that with another class taught in my current department, and you wouldn't know that unless I explained). Then I include the most current syllabus and the most recent class evals. I'm pretty anal about this part, because having been at a SLAC on a 4/4 load, teaching has to stand for a lot. So I chose the order of presentation carefully, picking courses that were most relevant to the position and then a single course that I thought would add something to the position that I particularly would like to bring with me.

Research packets, since it's early in my career, are easier to deal with: they get the kitchen sink approach, and a line in the letter offering a full copy of the current draft of the book if the committee would like to wade through it (unfortunately, my book doesn't have any easy to break out chapter).

The other area that I was particularly meticulous about was making sure I kept a copy of the letter I sent, with notations about what was included in teaching packets if one went. That helped in phone interviews because it often meant I had a better sense than the interviewing committee about what I'd sent and where it fit in. That made prepping for interviews - phone and otherwise - easier, because it meant I could come up with very specific questions and examples related to the programs and people I expected to talk with.

Hope that helps a little bit. I'll try and tackle Ash's question about dealing with the current job and controlling the spread of information while on the market tomorrow. As always, feel free to send more questions, and I'll try and answer them.

Job Tracking - Week 22

Thanks, everyone, for the congratulations. I assure you there's plenty more curmudgeonness, even with the thrill of a new job: think apartment hunting, a new city with new drivers, new departmental and university politics. Who knows? Maybe I'll get another roommate when I'm there, and you'll get that madness, too.

And, of course, there's still life around here for an indeterminate number of months. My department knows, but the majority of my colleagues haven't heard anything about it from me (though the grapevine works fast here). Ash asked in the comments to the last post whether the school I'm leaving made a counter offer or not. They did, or started to, but I didn't let the process go far. I can't imagine the current school has much to offer financially, and I was set on leaving.

Amusingly enough, I haven't managed to actually catch my family on the phone yet, so they don't know either (it seems a shame to leave that as a voice mail).

So, yes, some small bit of change from last week; and here's the numbers for this week:
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 23/25
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $192.90
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $23.94
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $357.78
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $0
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 9
HigherEdJobs.com: 0
Other online service (listserv, etc): 14
Friend/Colleague: 2
Personal Research: 1
Total number of paper submissions: 19
Total number of e-submissions: 4
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 22.13
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 48
Total number of requests for references: 5
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 9
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy :11
Total number of research packs: 13
Total number of transcripts requested: 3
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 21
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 2
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 2
Total number of offers: 2
Total number of rejection letters: 14
Total number of canceled or unhired positions: 2
I've been thinking about what to do with the job tracking posts; I'm going to largely discontinue them though I'll post about the reimbursement totals and if any of the remaining schools make offers or cancel. But I'll only put them up if those happens unless there is some demand to keep them weekly.

If there's anything else about the process in general I should cover - or that I've promised to and forgotten - let me know.

This Time I'm Really Telling

Okay, sorry for all the forced suspense. You've all certainly earned the public answer for your support. Before I forget, thanks for that and for all the advice and discussion. Now then, the moment this has all been leading up to.

For those who guessed I took the second job, you are correct.

The salary disparity between Job 1 and Job 2 mentioned in the previous post concerns me a little bit because there's a pretty reasonable cost of living question. In looking at it, Job 2 put me in a better spot - or at least put me in a spot I'm okay being in - if something goes wrong. Between the resources being given to me which will allow me to do more travel and research, and the courses I'd get to teach which are much closer to what I've been wanting to teach all along, it just seemed like the better option.

What made it a tough call, though, was that Job 1 is much closer to my aging parents. Of course, as you may have suspected from various posts, being too close to my family is also a concern. So a large part of the temptation to go that route was the ability it would have lent me to be close to them. But that felt like part of a two pronged trap, because if Job 1 didn't feel right - and there were some concerns about it, largely in terms of teaching and lack of resources - being so close to family makes it harder (for me at least) to seek out a better position.

Obviously, of course, I hope all of that is hypothetical, and that this is, indeed, the position I stay at all my days. We shall see.

And the Winner Is...

...okay, I couldn't give it away that easily, now could I? If you're following this, you deserve some drama, after all.

Plus, I'll give you vague references to ninth grade algebra.

First, word slipped out here by virtue of a phone call to one of my references. Word at SLAC spreads like wildfire, and so moments after that call was made, my relentless checking of Facebook statuses and apartment prices was disrupted by a rapping at my open door. First, my department chair. Then my Dean. Then a colleague who lurked in the hallway long enough to figure out what the parade through my threshold was about. All of this before I'd actually made my decision. Injected into the middle of the process was the awkward question from on high about whether a counter offer might somehow change things.

I always say to myself that I wish the dating world worked like this: that at some point, we could just pause and say "Is this working?" The honest answer could be given, and we'd move on, a little stung, but okay. It doesn't work that way in dating, and it doesn't work that in academia either, apparently, as my Lily Allen homage ("It's not me, it's you.") didn't seem to have quite the effect I'd intended.

That's actually harsh. If I could lift my department and place it where I wanted, things would be perfect. You've heard this before. And so, there wasn't an answer actually possible about what an attractive counter-offer would look like. This was hard to explain.

What I realized in the process was that I wasn't really capable of evaluating Job 1 and Job 2 in comparison to each other, as I'd tried elsewhere. There were really three jobs being compared, and this was part of what made things so thorny in previous comparisons. Also there was a nasty time crunch involved. If I made the comparison formally, it would look something like this:
Job Prime ‹ Job 1/Job2
And so each job had to be thought of in those comparisons. Really, the categories that went into things probably went into my decision went something like this:
Job Prime ‹ Job 2 ‹ Job 1

Proximity to Family
Job Prime ‹ Job 2 ‹ Job 1

Proximity to Friends
Job Prime ‹ Job 1/Job 2

Cultural Life
Job Prime ‹ Job 1/Job 2

Teaching Load
Job Prime ‹ Job 1 ‹ Job 2

Research Support
Job Prime ‹ Job 1 ‹ Job 2

Travel Support
Job Prime ‹ Job 1 ‹ Job 2

Department Goals/Make Up
Job 1 ‹ Job 2 ‹ Job Prime
Of course, I'd love to say that I was that methodical in making my decision, but alas, dear readers, I was under the gun, and so many of those things didn't get formally worked out. Instead, the process was a lot muddier and involved a lot more phone calls, gnashing of my terrible teeth and attempting to roar my horrible roar (also, there was a lot of rolling at and rubbing of my terrible eyes: Sendak, add that to the next draft!).

So, readers, here's your drama: before I reveal, with those facts, what would you have done?


As I think I've noted here previously, I'm the first person in my immediate family to have gone to college. One of the areas that affected was my knowledge about what it meant to go to college and how financial aid worked.

At the end of my high school years, I applied to two schools. Only one made me a speedy offer, and because I didn't know better, I assumed that meant only one would. And so it was to that school that I went for what was, largely, a miserable four years as an undergraduate. As I've told many people, if you'd asked me on the day of my undergraduate graduation if I'd ever go back to school, I'd have socked you in the mouth. But eventually I did go back.

Now, the infamous Job 2 is in the same place as the school I applied to but didn't attend way back when. And that place has become, more or less, "the one that got away" which is part of what has made this process so absurdly hard for me to navigate.


No news is damned frustrating.

Life's quiet here; my Job 1 deadline is fast approaching and there's no news from Job 2. For whatever reason, I'm am receiving a lot of grizzly bear related spam e-mail: grizzlies eating agnostics, grizzlies stalking people on MySpace. And my pens keep breaking. It's nice, though, because it gives me a chance in the plethora of meetings I've been stuck in lately to stop, raise my ink stained fingers in surprise, and to make a look like Wile E. Coyote just before the law of gravity kicks in.

I'm out of things to say: so enjoy this Muppets moment instead.

It feels like life.

Job Tracking - Week 21

Ah, job tracking posts, how they've come to measure my days. I should probably do something like this to measure grading. Maybe then I'd get it done.

Anyway, there isn't much to report since last week's last post. Two more rejections, one of which was sent to me three times (I guess they really wanted me to know I hadn't got the job). I, however, have to decide about the first job offer this week, and have heard nothing from the second school. It's funny how the process has worked because having the possibility of Job 2 has robbed the joy of Job 1 from me. I still find myself thinking "Why haven't they called?" rather than "So what? I've got a good job offer."

That said, here's the numbers for this week.
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 23/25
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $192.90
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $23.94
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $357.78
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $0
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 9
HigherEdJobs.com: 0
Other online service (listserv, etc): 14
Friend/Colleague: 2
Personal Research: 1
Total number of paper submissions: 19
Total number of e-submissions: 4
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 22.13
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 48
Total number of requests for references: 5
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 9
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy :11
Total number of research packs: 13
Total number of transcripts requested: 3
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 21
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 2
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 2
Total number of offers: 1
Total number of rejection letters: 13
Total number of canceled or unhired positions: 2
One thing that I'm seeing at this point in the process - primarily from having asked some tough questions on interviews, but also from communicating with friends dealing with job searches from both sides at other places - is that the economic downturn has disrupted the process in more ways than just canceled searches. Things that used to be certainties in the hiring process are now debatable points (for example, types of funding and assistance like moving expenses). Is anyone else hearing/running into this or is it only something happening in the corner of the job market my colleagues and I are in?

That probability that I'll agree to a job by the end of the week does call into question the fate of the job tracking posts, though. Is there a point to seeing this through to rejections from all of the schools I applied to? Or to reimbursement from the places I visited?

RBOC: Random Friday Funky Edition

Much of this week has felt steadily less coherent to me, and so it seems fitting that the post for a Friday afternoon would emphasize that theme. As above, so below or some such.
  • Job stuff continues. I've managed to get a little time before I have to make my final decision from Job 1. No news from Job 2 about whether I'm in or not, though I remain hopeful.
  • Near-mutiny in one of my classes where the upper classmen are insisting that being asked to read and to write on each reading is unreasonable. Earlier this week, I ended the discussion with the phrase "Honestly, stop whining. You guys are ridiculous." The following class saw 2/3 of the group skip.
  • Came across this and thought it was interesting idea. I've actually considered a similar project, and so I'm going to follow this with some interest to see how it goes and whether people will really contribute some little bit to help out like this. My donation is in the mail.
  • Today is my father's birthday. Some part of me had hoped to have the job search done and good news to give him as part of his birthday present.
  • Interestingly, the position we're hiring for has received very few applicants despite the rough economy and its ties to a very popular field. My chair is panicking.
  • For musical goodness this week check this out.
Back to general office stalling.

Signifier Reprieve

"[it] was a word she loathed but could not stop using and which, like all words, was lousy and inadequate."
- B. Clarke

In Case I Was Having Doubts

It's nice when the universe (or, in this case, the university) reminds you of why you're leaving. I thought, actually, that I'd be talking about the double-edged sword of life near family and how that's playing out in my job decision.

Instead, current job complaints.

Last summer I attempted to teach a graduate course. Our department had been heavily lobbied - just short of actual pummeling - to offer graduate courses in the newly created Master's program. Of course, with our 4/4 teaching load, the only time to teach such a course was in the summer, and summer pay here isn't great. But it sounded like a fun idea, and I like even a little extra pay where I can get it, so I tried.

Getting the course off the ground was a nightmare. It meant I had to get a course through the entire review process to be put in the catalog. As is the nature of universities, this took longer than it needed to - it actually got bumped off two separate meeting agenda cycles - and it was more inconvenient then it needed to be. I was asked ridiculous questions about attendance policies, required to attend meetings where there was no discussion of my (or any) course, etc, etc, etc. When the time for the course finally came, I needed three students to be registered (or so I was told). I had two, and a third who was trying but couldn't actually - literally - register because our computer systems hadn't accounted for people entering being admitted the same week classes they were going to take would actually be starting. I met the first night with the students, and then the course was canceled because I didn't have my three students yet.

Only, it turns out, technically I didn't need 3 students. Two would have been enough, and I could have taught for tuition. When this error was caught, a plan to give some compensation to faculty was launched. Only, for some reason, faculty teaching those much sought after graduate courses weren't factored in.

"Be patient," I was told. The person who had brokered the deal was going through some issues. All would be made right. My union rep didn't - and hasn't - return my phone call. At a union meeting, I was told they were sure management would do the right thing.

This was August.

Yesterday, in my 11th follow-up to my Dean, I noted that it felt like the University was losing this, and while I understood personal issues, I also understood that the problem is a small one and shouldn't take long to correct (Step 1: issue check in same amount issued to the other seven faculty Step 2: hand check over Step 3: Optional apology for the delay and the lack of planning) and that I'm expected to keep functioning in my position even when I have personal difficulties.

This morning, I received a reply that told me essentially that the University - and the person in charge - has forgotten the details and that perhaps compensation won't be given because of this.

I am so ready for an exit interview.


So, the dilemma here is a good one: I've got one job offer that I'll be glad to take if it's the only one, and a second possibility that I like even better. Also, my shoes are made of diamonds, and people can't seem to help baking me cookies.

Okay, the last part isn't true, but really, things are pretty dang good.

But, there's maybe eventually a decision to be made. If I get a second offer, which do I take? And so, I present for your scrutiny my pro/con lists such as they are. This is mostly a sort of scratch pad for me to try and think this through, but since so much of this process has already been made visible to the Intertubes, I thought maybe this struggle could be useful (or at least slightly entertaining.
Job 1 Pros
  1. close to friends
  2. close to family
  3. better pay than current job
  4. lower cost of living than current place
  5. lots to do
  6. better climate than current place
  7. excellent housing costs
Job 2 Pros
  1. close to friends
  2. far from family
  3. likely better pay
  4. better research funds
  5. lots to do
  6. excellent retirement benefits
And, of course, there's the downside.
Job 1 Cons
  1. close to family
  2. poor travel funds
  3. poor research funds
  4. less than ideal retirement
Job 2 Cons
  1. far from family
  2. high cost of living
  3. high cost of housing
I feel like I'm probably forgetting some other things. And, of course, I'm likely over-thinking just a little since only one job is actually mine to stress over.