The Resignation Letter

So, one detail that had fallen to the wayside of this whole New Job Business was the formal resignation letter. I'd never had to write one before, and since there are some outstanding matters between the University and myself at the moment, writing it wasn't easy.

I don't know that this is necessarily a model, but the strangeness of it - combined with a need I felt to address some things, however tactfully - made me think that maybe it'd be worth posting here.
Dear ___________,

It is with no small amount of regret that I offer my resignation as Assistant Professor in the Department of ________________ at the end of my contract year.

My time in the Department of _____________ has been extremely rewarding. The program that has been developed here is amazing, fulfilling an important role in our field and in the world. The things that I have learned while working with this excellent faculty cannot be stressed enough. The delicate balance they have struck so successfully - not content to just teach _____________ but to graft those skills to a vision of social justice - is to be commended. In the coming years, I have every confidence that you will find other departments working for a model that has been present here all along. Working with them has inspired and instructed me, and I hope to carry the seeds of this department into my future endeavors I cannot praise the department and my colleagues enough for their commitment to creating something dynamic, unique, and equitable.

My departure is bitter-sweet as _____________ is taking important steps towards becoming a university that truly represents social justice for all. Such steps are rarely easy, and it says something that the University is risking them. I hope that in my time here I have helped with those steps, and that, just as the _______________ department asks of its students, I have made the department and the University a better place. I regret that I cannot continue that work here, but I hope the University will continue with it, even when it isn’t easy, and I will follow the changes and lend what support and well wishes I can.

I wish the University all the success in the world. I’m grateful for my time here. Thank you.
Certainly, the letter is longer than it probably needs to be for a resignation. But it feels like one of those rare moments where the young, untenured faculty member has something like the attention of those above. I tried to make the point on a different issue that, unfortunately, sometimes the only voice university structures allow young faculty is heard in the quiet syllables of feet on pavement. My leaving isn't entirely about that - though it certainly is a part. But the lesson is important.

It is probably entirely unrealistic to hope that anyone actually pays attention to these things, but since the letter was to be sent to the V.P. and my Dean, it seemed worthwhile to take the shot that things the school has been struggling with are important - and not easy - but that it shouldn't be taken as a sign that it's okay to quit on them.

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4 Responses to “The Resignation Letter”
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ash said...

This is kind and generous--not that I would expect any less of you.

March 18, 2009 at 11:06 PM
bitternsweet said...

It is a testament both to your character and to the fact that there were positive aspects to this job that you would take the time to write such a thoughtful letter.

Me, on the other hand, when I was leaving my first evil job -- I verbally informed the chair, I packed my office over a weekend when the building was empty, and I was gone -- didn't bid farewell to any of my hideous "colleagues." Couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.

March 19, 2009 at 10:03 AM
Alexander said...

People quit because they find better jobs! How do you feel about writing a letter full of lies? Are you proud of yourself?

April 1, 2009 at 8:43 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

It's funny. I watched a documentary about the health care crisis a few nights ago, and there was someone who left her job to take a worse paying one in a place she didn't like that wasn't satisfying to take care of her parent. I'd say people leave jobs for lots of reasons.

But, accepting your premise that we only leave jobs for betters, still doesn't mean the one being left was bad. So we'll have to wait until I write a resignation letter full of lies for me to answer your question.

Keep reading - maybe it'll happen soon.

April 2, 2009 at 1:06 AM