Monday, October 29, 2007

There's Not a Thing in the World Wrong with Looking

I probably shouldn't take the bait on this, but I just want to put it out there once and for all. A commenter whom I don't know left a comment this afternoon on a job market related post, and then I responded, and then this commenter wrote back. Here's the exchange:

Webmaster said...

Great news. When will you tell us in the department you're leaving so we can hastily hire someone to do what you used to?

Dr. Crazy said...

My department administrators are aware that I am looking, and I will keep them updated on the progress of my search, should there be progress. If I do not get an offer, I won't be leaving, so it would be a bit premature to make any announcements about leaving until I had another job. Thanks so much for your concern, Webmaster!

Webmaster said...

Well, we'll keep our fingers crossed, because there's nothing more exciting than having a junior faculty member on board who wasn't able to find her way out 2 consecutive years.

Imagine our delight in imagining you might deign to stay here in Pudknocker town another year or two!

We will certainly forget your casting around for a better gig when tenure and promotion loom.

Do you need any extra letterhead? There is some in the supply closet.

Ok, so first off, let me say that I know I was snippy in the whole "thank you for your concern" line, and that probably wasn't necessary. But now let me address the implication that it's wrong that one look for a job while one is on the tenure track, and that to imagine the possibility of changing jobs - "casting around for a better gig" - is in some way acting in bad faith. The short answer is, I wholeheartedly disagree with this implication, but I would, right? So let me give you my reasons.

  1. My institution has not yet made a lifetime commitment to me, and so I'm not certain I understand why I'm supposed already to have made a lifetime commitment to it. People in the "real world" look for other jobs all the time. Doing so often is crucial to professional advancement. The same is true in academe. It is not wrong to want to advance in one's chosen profession.
  2. I am not "casting around for a better gig" but rather I am applying selectively to jobs that I think might give me a chance to do things in my chosen field that I will not be able to do in my current position. I honestly really value my current position, and I think that it is a very good one for this type of institution. I would not apply for a job at a similar institution not because I'm so horrified by my current job but because if I'm going to work at this kind of institution, I want to work here.
  3. One of the reasons that I am on the market is because I want to be closer geographically to people that I care about. This is, to me, an entirely valid reason to look.
  4. I have the support of my colleagues. I am not in danger of being denied tenure at my university. I have been as open as possible about my reasons for looking with those who I feel need to know about my job search activities, and they appreciated that openness and they encouraged me.
  5. My colleagues know that part of the reason I'm looking is because I don't want to become a faculty member who stuck with it to tenure and then resents never having seen what else was out there, resenting this place and condescending to one's colleagues and students. Indeed, perhaps this is the most striking thing about the tone of the above comments: this is a person who in one breath implies that one has no right to look because it will betray one's institution and so one should just shut up and be unhappy, and yet if one signals that one is unhappy by putting oneself on the market, the commenter implies, one may be out of a job. I'm unclear about what this commenter thinks: should an unhappy person stay off the market to become an unhappy tenured person, for the good of the institution, or should an unhappy person get the hell out because they are not wanted if they are unhappy? And what about if one is kind of happy but if one has ambition and thinks that one might be happier if one pursued that ambition? What then? I want to become a senior colleague like the senior colleagues in my department: a senior colleague who supports the career development of its junior faculty, and who keeps junior faculty not with threats and guilt trips but because they want to stay. I want to be the kind of senior colleague who supports junior faculty if they want to see what else is out there. And if a person goes on the market and doesn't get another offer, or doesn't decide to take another offer, I want to continue to support that colleague. If I don't see what else may be out there for me, the option is to become embittered, and I don't see where that benefits my colleagues, my students, or my institution as a whole.
  6. If I stay at this institution, even if I don't get another offer, I will know precisely because I looked for another job my value in the wider profession. This is important to me. It shows me what I've achieved. (Achievement is not only measured in job offers or in climbing the ladder: achievement, as I see it, is measured in being considered a viable candidate, even if one isn't ultimately the "chosen one." And yes, it matters to me that I am competitive in the field that I have worked so hard to achieve in, and I think that it is good for my current institution that I am.)
  7. Should I get another job, yes, I think that my institution will feel the loss. I have been a good worker here. I have developed interesting courses, I have served on committees, I have done quality research. But I will not be leaving my department in a bind. My department, because it is a good department and a strong department, can survive if a faculty member takes another position. I realize that this is not the case in all departments, but since this commenter is attacking me, I believe it's only fair that I state that I am not in a department where my loss would result in the need to hastily hire someone to do all the work that I do.
There are many good reasons to look in addition to those that I have enumerated in this post, but I believe that those I have listed do respond to Webmaster's comments. I will close, now, with the following: the reason that I have chosen to be open about the fact that I'm selectively on the market on this blog is because I think that it's valuable to have a range of voices that describe this process. I do not write about this because I hate where I work (I don't) and I don't write about this because I expect congratulations or something for what, ultimately, is my own personal decision about how to pursue my career. I don't know what will happen, and I may well not get even to the interview stage of this process this year. But the reality of this profession in the 21st century is that many people do not retire from their first tenure-track job. The reality of this profession is that salary, resources, and achievement can depend on putting oneself on the market, particularly when one is in one's probationary period. And so while I don't expect congratulations, and while I don't expect every reader to understand, I do expect that those who comment will show basic respect for what I'm trying to do in recounting my experience and that they will refrain from belittling me for doing something not only that I have the right to do but also that I have a great deal of support from mentors both within my current department and elsewhere in doing. Perhaps you would not support a colleague who chose to take the path that I am taking, and that is your prerogative. I only expect, from those who comment on this blog, that they don't use the space that I've created here as a forum in which to take out their aggression. If you want a forum for that, I'd recommend that you get your own blog.


Margaret said...

This whole thing just infuriates me, on your behalf, and on the behalf of all academics everywhere. I'll say it slowly to your commenter: WELCOME TO CAPITALISM. Where, you know, institutions feel free to "inconvenience" their workers all the time through (a) hiring cheap, short-term contract labor, (b) outlawing collective bargaining, and (c) ratcheting up expectations for productivity while real wages remain stagnant... Yeah, all that is terribly "exciting" too!

And yet, apparently, we're supposed to do nothing but croon love songs to our employers, as we pledge our hearts and minds to them forever.

What utter bullshit.

Hilaire said...

I was going to say what Maggie said, almost exactly - you sure as heck are more tolerant of this kind of *profound* jerkitude than I could ever be. That is really, really shockingly nasty stuff s/he's thrown at you, and I'm sorry that you feel you have to defend yourself.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for these comments. You know, I choked back all of my rage to write this post, and you know why? It was a taking the high road sort of a thing. And you know, I chose to write a whole post about it not so much because I feel that I must defend myself but because I refuse to let people spew this kind of vitriol at me without being called out on their behavior.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Oh, gosh, how silly of you to have forgotten that once you get an academic job you must be so grateful to the hiring gods that you should pledge the job your firstborn child (or, give up having children altogether so you can give your everything to the job), set up a reverse IV so you can forever more give all vital fluids to the job, and never, ever leave.

helenesch said...

I agree with the others--and commend you on your willingness to engage this comment. Plus, weren't you asked to defend your decision to go on the market last year? Maybe I've just been reading too long, but it seems you shouldn't have to justify this again!

I really do appreciate your blogging about the process, though. And I'm sure it's useful for others to read this well-thought-out reply (I'm sure you're not the only one who gets such questions!)

k8 said...

Seriously, you just demonstrated much more grace in dealing with this jerk that s/he deserved. It isn't like we are living in the era when people stayed with 'the company' for life. And, considering the state of the market, it very well might take people a time or two or three or more on the market to get to where they need to be professionally and/or personally. I don't understand why or how anyone can begrudge anyone for trying to achieve this.

You responded well.

Anonymous said...

webmaster can git his/her own blog but I'm sure as hell not going to read it. :)

Flavia said...

Crazy, I truly can't believe the SHIT you've gotten--both this year and last--for what to me seems such a ridiculously reasonable, obvious decision. I can only conclude that commenters like that are bitter and disappointed in their own professional lives and have to justify their own failures (or their unwillingness even to risk failure) by dressing it up as some kind of bogus, unasked-for "loyalty."

Like all your other commenters to this post, I admire how reasonable and respectful you were to this asshole. (And I love Maggie's comment about capitalism. Jesus God, people.)

Unknown said...

I am a lurker, so not a regular commenter, but a faithful reader. This post made me a bit mad and I do think that you showed much grace Dr. Crazy. But I think there is more to be said.

As someone on the job market I have been happy to read Anastasia's comments on the job market because her criticisms are right on target. This market is tough, especially for newly minted Ph.Ds. We are applying for jobs with multiple applicants and it is an expensive undertaking. I have to pay for transcripts and Interfolio, and of course for the airfare and hotel rooms for the conference where I might not even get an interview (which is ludicrous in so many ways). So after all that, considering my tenuous financial state because I have no guaranteed future employment, I will be happy to get ANY job that comes my way.

Now that said, according to Webmaster, I should be so grateful for the job that I will then commit the rest of my life to that job environment and location because, hey, I got the job.

I understand that it is difficult on the universities themselves, because they have to fund the position, the search, and interview, etc... But that is not my fault. And to assume that I have to accept the burden of that baggage is ridiculous. As Maggie said, this is capitalism.

If it is so hard for us to get jobs at the outset, then it should be accepted that there will be a more fluid market at the assistant and associate levels.

Sorry to rant but this really hit a nerve.

SEK said...

My institution has not yet made a lifetime commitment to me, and so I'm not certain I understand why I'm supposed already to have made a lifetime commitment to it.

Talk about unassailable logic. This being the case, who can blame a body?

Dr. Crazy said...

First, to Mary, welcome, and thanks for adding this comment. You touch on such an important piece of this puzzle, and one that a barely hinted at in the post when I talked about how advancement and achievement can depend on moving. What you write isn't a rant at all: it's a fact.

And Helenesch, yes, I dealt with this same sort of vitriol last year (and I think I handled it much less diplomatically - apparently, having been through it once before allowed me to channel the rage into something that was somewhat rational.

And to everybody else, just thanks for your comments. You know, this is one of the reasons I do choose to write about the market stuff - to expose this kind of attitude for the bullshit that it is.

Hilaire said...

You know, I just can't stop thinking about this. The view of such people is that we are supposed to *sacrifice* our very SELVES to our institutions. Fuck our unhappiness and ill health, etc., etc. That is crazy-irrational and fucking WRONG and I am spitting mad for you and everybody who has to feel guilty for wanting a bloody WHOLE life. (Hit a nerve much?)

Dr. Crazy said...

Hilaire, it's because the people who hold this view equate the self with the job. Being a professor, in their view, encompasses one's whole identity, and in particular, being a professor at a particular institution is one's identity. If one can drink that kool-aid, then apparently one would be "happy" even in the worst of circumstances, because one would be a martyr pursuing a vocation. Somebody like me threatens that particular subject position because I reveal that being a professor at a particular institution doesn't make a person a saint or even somebody special - it makes them a worker, who does a job for a paycheck. Sure, it's a job you might love. Sure, it's a great job in a lot of ways. And it's an important job. But if it's just a job, and you gave your life to it? Your WHOLE life? And if the actions of some sassy upstart shine a light on that? Well, the only thing to do is to attempt to crush the sassy upstart. It's the only way to remain mystified.

Margaret said...

Can I just say that everyone's responses to this are SO GREAT? Esp. New Kid's :)

And Crazy, I have a significant # of those people at my college. They are absolutely intolerable.

Sisyphus said...

Ick. As if all the job market crap isn't hard enough to deal with, you have to justify your every move to complete strangers? I echo all the other commenters who tell webmaster to fuck off.

You know, this language of love and unpaid labor I hear a lot in relation to women's work --- maintaining the marriage, the second shift, raising kids, nurturing people at home and on the job, "service" of all kinds from bringing the brownies to helping run extra committees --- and I hear the same rhetoric of: you're doing this for love, not money, so shut up and be grateful.

undine said...

You showed grace under pressure, Dr. Crazy, and you and the other commenters are exactly right: commitment works both ways, and until they make one (put the tenure ring on your finger, so to speak), it's only sensible to keep looking.

Dr. Crazy said...

I really think it's no mistake that this sort of crap has happened not once but twice on my blog, a woman's blog. I would be surprised to see somebody challenge a male faculty member who posted about his search in a similar way, or at least I've never seen a similar challenge on a male blogger's blog. Is it because the person thought I wouldn't call him/her out on the abuse? I mean, the comment was buried in the post about my request for extra materials. Nobody but me would have seen it had I not displayed it front and center. So it was a *personal* attack, and an attack that person thought he/she would never have to face consequences for making. I suppose the person thought I would be meek and just ignore it, all the while feeling like shit on the inside? Ah, that person clearly doesn't know Crazy.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, and FWIW, when I went on the market from my t-t job all my senior colleagues were extremely supportive - and not in the "we can't wait to get rid of her way," in the "we want to support our junior colleagues and make sure that if they stay it's because they really want to" way. The only people I've ever know to respond the way that Webmaster does are the ones who are so savagely repressing their own unhappiness about the profession that they can't stand the prospect of someone else negotiating it differently.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Ah, that person clearly doesn't know Crazy.

Damn straight! ;-D

SEK said...

I really think it's no mistake that this sort of crap has happened not once but twice on my blog, a woman's blog.

This is a really interesting point of comparison between break-rooms, "official" back-channels and blogs, I think. These sort of complaints are leveled constantly off-line, regardless of gender. (That's not to say the responses are not themselves gendered, only that the opprobrium's spread around to all untenured, junior faculty who lack corporate-style commitment to their department.) Why is it, then, that you've only see this sort of shit leveled at women online? Part of me wants to say something essentialist about males and trolls, but I'll withhold that, since that's a gut feeling I can't quantify. But you're right: women catch flack for this online, but off-line, the distribution's equitable. (Not "equitable," but you know what I mean.)

Dr. Crazy said...

Scott, Good point about how these complaints are in themselves gendered in the real world. I think online that gendering becomes literal, though I don't think it's necessarily about the males-are-trolls thing, at least if last year's situation on my blog, so similar to this, is any indication. Obviously this isn't a broad sample, but my intuition is that commenters - whether male or female - give this kind of shit to women bloggers (I'm actually reminded of the controversy over Jessica Valenti's breasts) because women bloggers make themselves "public women" (with all the historical baggage that terminology implies) and so the commenters feel justified in using the figure of the woman blogger as a vehicle through which to work out their own issues about authority and legitimacy. Whether the commenter is biologically male or female, I think the commenter is ultimately trying to preserve phallic authority in this sort of situation.

I also think that there is the expectation that the woman blogger won't defend herself (or maybe that a woman blogger like me won't defend herself?) because the tone of a blog like mine and the tone of its comments generally doesn't resemble the argumentative tone of more "masculine" blogs. So the commenters think that they can waltz in and put me in their place without any sort of consequences. Maybe this isn't true, but it's a theory of mine.

I don't know. I feel like I'm rambling, but I did want to note that I agree with what you're saying here. In a real world situation, all junior faculty face the possibility that they will be looked at in this way, but somehow, online, it's women who are more likely to get the shit.

Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I, for one, am happy to see Webmaster's comments. It means academia has finally arrived and can now be its own reality TV show. We've got our needleslly bitchy Simon. Anyone want to opt for the "Paula" and "Randy" roles?

How dare you, Crazy, want to leave the island? Don't you know only a jury of your peers can vote you off?

Honestly, could you blame anyone for thinking of it as Pudknocker U when there's that sort of attitude?

Anonymous said...

What a lovely assorted group of selfish fucks you all are. I can't believe not a one of you has been a senior enough member of a faculty to know the damage that this "casting around for a better gig" does to a department.

The junior faculty of present day academe is made up of people like you, uncaring and selfish, not giving a shit about the students and colleagues you leave in the lurch with your pretty "look at me, love me, and miss me" announcement of departure in April of each year.

And I've often offered my "support" to jumpy and nervous junior faculty so sure that there's a world of demand out there for their particular preciousness, because what else can we do? We have an endowment, trustees, the work of the university, the rest of the department, the students. These all remain once you put your shit in boxes and go off to be unfulfilled in another institution that just will never love you as much as Mommy and Daddy (or that old boyfriend you screwed in the rec room on last year's hometown reunion!).

Oh, yes, it's "just" a job to us, too, darling, but we're adults and we take it seriously. We're not children with overblow egos; we've long ago recognized that we're pieces of a larger puzzle, not a big bright gumdrop unicorn that rests in the center of the universe.

Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Okay, seriously, does someone have an older sibling who can take Ed's department to the prom? Because this is just sad.

Ed, don't worry. Someone will see your department's inner beauty and will stick around for the last dance. But you can't let it make you bitter. If they don't love your department for who you are, they don't deserve you.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Sweet god, edsmithers, did you even read a word of this post? And did it ever occur to you that if junior faculty are leaving your department in the lurch as your comment seems to suggest, it might be because your department sucks?

If selfish means putting my own interests before those of an institution - NOT a family or a religious order, an INSTITUTION - which has a hell of a lot more power over me than I have over it - well, then, I'm proud to be selfish.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

does someone have an older sibling who can take Ed's department to the prom? Because this is just sad.

Bwahahahahaha! Good one, dr. curmudgeon.

(I'm waiting for someone to complain that these responses aren't "professional," but then, edsmithers's comment sure as hell wasn't.)

And isn't amusing that these people go to the trouble of creating Blogger identities and everything, just so they can tell you how selfish you are, Crazy? It's like they don't actually have any work to do at their precious institutions that we junior people are dissing so selfishly.

Margaret said...

"We're adults and we take it seriously."

Really? Gee, 'cause at my institution, it's often the *junior* (untenured) folks who end up serving on the most committees, taking on the most advisees, spending the most time with their students, returning papers the most promptly, offering mentoring to other more junior people, developing the most innovative classes, and generally throwing their hearts and souls into their jobs.

But then again, I'm just a bright unicorn gumdrop, so what do I know?

And Dr Curmudgeon cracks me up.

Anonymous said...

Mine wasn't professional because the treatment of the original poster ("fucking asshole" by one, and "go fuck yourself" by another) wasn't either.

Just trying to keep up with the established tone.

I don't know Dr. Crazy, but having been in the business for more than 20 years, I have some experience in the junior faculty / senior faculty wars.

As long as this is an open forum (and I'm glad it is), and as long as I'm a regular reader, I feel as though I have a right to be here.

Sure, I could have showed more respect for Dr. Crazy, but regardless of how she deludes herself, she's not showing much respect to her school, colleagues, or students. If that's too real, then I am sorry to reveal it to you all.

Margaret said...

Let me get this straight, ed, (no snark at all here): you're saying that once one has landed an academic job, one cannot in good conscience look for another? Ever? Really?

Psycgirl said...

I'm coming late to this discussion, and I don't even have a job or job prospects yet, but I can tell you if the opportunity ever arises for me to return and work at Home Town U, where I can be close to my aging parents, friends and their children, in-laws, and the climate I love - I'll take it in a heartbeat. I would even take it if it meant I had to downgrade my research. That's what collaborators are for. Loyalty to myself and loyalty to my family will always trump loyalty to an institution, no matter how much I might love that institution.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

ed: my "go fuck yourself" was inspired by webmaster's hostile and snarky comment. If s/he'd asked, "don't you think this might cause your department problems?" I would never have called him/her an asshole. As it was, I was responding in kind. So any lack of professionalism began with webmaster, not maggie or me.

snark off: yes, you definitely have the right to be here (though really it's Crazy who should make that determination), but if you're a regular reader, you should have some sense of how your comment is going to go over. And I completely, utterly, and professionally disagree with you that Crazy is showing any disrespect to her colleagues, students, or institution. You don't have the corner on real. (okay, maybe the snark was only partly off.)

Dr. Crazy said...

I also think that it's interesting the way that the go-to response to my post by Ed Smithers is to infantilize me, to imply that I'm a whore, and to tell me that I am disrespectful. These are very compelling and persuasive techniques for expressing disagreement, and I'm sure that everybody really understands Ed's point of view and responds positively to it, given those "supports" for his position.

Perhaps Ed failed to read the end of this post. I'll quote it here.

"I do expect that those who comment will show basic respect for what I'm trying to do in recounting my experience and that they will refrain from belittling me for doing something not only that I have the right to do but also that I have a great deal of support from mentors both within my current department and elsewhere in doing. Perhaps you would not support a colleague who chose to take the path that I am taking, and that is your prerogative. I only expect, from those who comment on this blog, that they don't use the space that I've created here as a forum in which to take out their aggression. If you want a forum for that, I'd recommend that you get your own blog."

This forum is not open. This forum is controlled by me. I'm leaving these comments here because I think that people who make comments like this should have to answer for them. That said, any future comments that are similarly abusive of me will be deleted.

Dr. Crazy said...

One last thing: I don't think that this is a a "junior faculty/senior faculty war." I know for a fact that some of the commenters here are tenured. What counts as "senior" faculty then?

And if we count my time in graduate school as time in this profession, and I do count it as that, although obviously I was in an apprentice position, I've been in this business 10 years. I'm not some 22 year old without a clue, and I resent the implication that I am.

Margaret said...

One of the reasons I ask my question is because in my field, if one is at an R1, it is *unusual* to not look for another job pre-tenure, if only to make your tenure "bump" better. It's *expected* at many high-prestige places.

Kate said...

I'm still just amazed that you, or anyone else with a job, ever has to justify looking for another job. You don't need to justify it, you don't need a good reason, you don't have to emphasize that you like your current job, your search doesn't have to be selective. You have every right to look, and to apply. I am confused by the people who are offended by this, and so far no posts have cleared my confusion in a rational manner.

Dr. Crazy said...

In English, because the market is so glutted, people at ALL KINDS of institutions look while on the tenure track because often the "first job" bears no resemblance to the kind of job that they envisioned themselves working in and/or they had no choice in location when they accepted the "first job" and so they are trying to get to another location. These issues are compounded when we throw into the mix that people on the tenure-track tend to be in the prime of their child-bearing years, begin having to deal with aging family members, and have a number of other personal concerns that make location and kind of job of paramount importance to balancing other parts of their lives. Honestly, every person I know with a tenure track position has at some point or another looked for another job. A number of people in my current department came to this institution from other institutions where they had been on the tenure track. I'm wondering how much of a role discipline plays in the way we think about these issues and how much type of institution can matter as well.

Kate said...

I meant to say no posts arguing the contrary have cleared my confusion in a rational manner (I was referring to the edsmithers/webmaster troll wonders).

Anonymous said...

edsmithers is a classic example of the commenter who wants to put crazy in her place. Could it be any more obvious, by accusing her of overblown ego, preciousness and childishness? Really.

and by the way, where does selfishness enter into it? This is a job. You pay Dr. Crazy, she works for you. It's very simple. Loyalty, selfishness, duty. Where do these things come from?

I've written three versions of this comment and I'm not happy with any of them. I don't even know where to begin with the suggestion that there's something basically wrong with the idea that she might pursue her own interests, make choices based on what's best for her own life and explore options that will optimize her happiness.

The audacity of senior folks in a system that puts people through the screeching hell of graduate education, the worst and most inefficient hiring process the human mind can imagine, followed by--if you're lucky, now--the torture test that is the path toward tenure throwing the burden back on JUNIOR people. because they're the ones who are making problems and they do damage to the department. i tell you what, shit rolls downhill.

You want loyalty, earn it.

Ancarett said...

Senior faculty member, here, and I see nothing wrong with people looking at any stage. I wonder if Edsmithers would feel so outraged if one of his senior colleagues were considering taking a prestigious position at another university? I suspect not. Why such outrage with regards to junior faculty members?

Searches are never fun for departments, I'll admit this. I've been on more search committees than I'd like to remember. My father, a retired head of an engineering department, ran his program for twenty-five years and had at least one search every year. That's punishing.

Dr. Crazy? I think you're running your search in a mature and commendable manner. I'm sure that you'll be a productive and valued member of the profession, whatever happens in your future career. I don't think that the same can be said of the bitter and vituperative trolling types, however!

mom said...

I am really surprised by this reaction. It's insane.

I had a TT job that was good, but I looked for a better job, and got one, and deserved it and my former colleagues were gracious and are still friends. there are a million valid reasons that someone might choose to look for a second or third position - geography, interest area, research/teaching distribution, money, benefits, family reasons, challenging colleagues...

I don't have an overblown ego (that would be nice, I often wish I did), but I do have a concern with my own well-being and happiness.

And, Ed, for what it's worth I'm sure with your delightful pent up hostility toward untenured faculty, you've driven out your fair share of colleagues.

Dr. Crazy - I hope you find a great new position - it's much nicer to look the second time, when you aren't so desparate that you have to do backflips, agree to teach 4/4, and move to the tundra. Go get 'em!

mom said...

Also, Ed -- since you have been in the business 20 years, you probably have no idea how hard it is for new faculty today. How many applicants were in the pool the year you applied? How many publications did you need to have to get your first job? How many tenure lines existed before they were whittled to bare bones and filled with adjuncts?

Cut us some slack - we're working our asses off.

Anonymous said...

haha. okay, that cracked me up. I will totally do backflips. anybody want me to do a backflip? Just say the word. :)

gwoertendyke said...

wow, i can hardly believe i missed all of this insanity, and i'm a daily reader!

not much more need be said--i love to read going to bat comments, new kid, curmudgeon, maggie, but i would add to snarky seniors that everyone i know at R1 institutions goes on the market every year until they are tenured, at least every year that there is an improvement in there file/profile, and it is EXPECTED by all, administrators, colleagues, friends, that this is the case. it is the one teeny wheeny bit of power academics in the humanities have.

also in my experience: those people who self-righteously oppose such practices, especially when they speak for all "senior" faculty, are the very same pieces of dead weight departments wish would go on the market: they don't publish, they give graduate students shameful advice, they sabotage terrific hires and terrific junior faculty--in short, they really ARE assholes.

luckily, most of the senior faculty i know do not do this and are openly ashamed of those wankers that do.

thanks for letting us all know where you stand. any chance of self-revelation so none of us apply to your institution??

gwoertendyke said...

like others, i can't stop stewing over these comments, they produce so much rage. perhaps, as sis and dr. c and other have highlighted, the most egregious aspect of ed and webmaster is the nasty, self-righteous, oh-so-hurt tone of their critiques--that there is a clear comfort zone to publicly and personally attack dr. c bears some serious discussion.

who are these people? i'm shocked to hear that a) somebody actually feels there is a war between jr./sr. faculty; b) that we shirk our duty to students and colleagues by looking around; c) that this is a sign of our gigantic egos (WTF: have either of them read any of our blogs EVER? how about sense of self and intellectual grown IN SPITE OF nasty, undermining, demoralizing, conditions that require our love and devotion, not to mention acceptance of utterly inappropriate behavior from some (ahem) male colleagues) --as you can see, there are not enough words to express my serious disgust over the tenor of these comments.

i can only say wow. other things will involve my own nasty slinging....

gwoertendyke said...

sorry for the typos--blind rage made me careless.

Earnest English said...

Oh dear. Look at the hullabaloo I missed! I would just like to point out that Ed was putting us all in the group with Dr. Crazy when he said:

What a lovely assorted group of selfish fucks you all are.

It seems to be extremely difficult for people to remember that as much as many of us really love what we do and really come to departments with a communitarian spirit wanting collegiality and friends, being a professor is just a job. No more, no less. People look for jobs all the time. Period. End of story. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I am looking for a job. Do I feel bad about leaving my department? Yes. Do I feel my personal priorities outweigh those considerations? Yes. We all make decisions all the time. It is important that we make the right ones for us so that we can do our best work as academics and people. Do other people have to understand and support our decisions? No, of course not. But does one need to attack one's loyalty and sense of altruism to some kind of higher purpose? Please. It's a job. Let's not get on our high horses here and feel the need to justify choices that serve our self-interest. The institution is not a child, a god, or a calling. Nor do our institutions give us something for nothing, for which we can be seen as ingrates when we see what else is out there. It's a job. Fee for service and market-driven.

helenesch said...

I have to admit that I whe I first read his comment, I actually thought edsmithers was joking--that his comment was a spoof on someone who might say such things! I mean, how can a person really hold such views...? It was so unbelievably over the top! Sadly, such persons do exist. And while few would put it so bluntly, the attitudes underlying his post on not as rare as they should be.

And while you (Crazy) shouldn't have to justify this decision of yours (it's actually quite rational), I'm glad that this forum exists so that others who take crap like this know that they're not alone--49 comments is pretty impressive, and most are understanding and supportive.

The blogosphere (okay, just the corner of it that I read!) is a pretty amazing resource, and I say this as someone who doesn't even have a blog. So thanks again for putting yourself out there like this, and for providing an opportunity for many of us to reflect on this stuff.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks, Helenesch. I'm actually amazed at the number of comments. As you know, as you are a regular reader, a good comment day for me is usually around 20 - and that's even if I comment in between.

But I really appreciate the support that I get from this community, and I also appreciate the insights that I get from the people in it.

And you're welcome for what you said about me providing an opportunity for people to reflect on this stuff. Honestly, I really do care about doing that, and I'm glad that others seem to appreciate that.

In a note you all might enjoy: Medusa couldn't believe that these comments were real either. Her theory was that the commenters were attempting to facilitate some sort of experiment in which they monitored the reactions of bloggers to this sort of crap. I only wish that this were true.

Bardiac said...

Dr. C, just a word of support. You need to take care of your happiness, and the happiness of those you love as best you can. And your job sure isn't going to do that.

I'm wishing you good things for your search this year.

And yes, I have departmental colleagues I'd hate to lose, but as an ethical human being, I'd do my best to be supportive of them if they wanted to go on the market. And when I went on the market (from a TT job), my colleagues, up to and including the college president, wished me well and treated me well. And have done again when I've visited. And they were able to replace me with a wonderful colleague, because there ARE wonderful people going on the market every year.

Good luck :)

Dean Dad said...

I'm late to the party, and getting predictable in my dotage, but here goes anyway:

It's just a job.

You're allowed to look for another one, and even to take another one, if you want to. It's not indentured servitude or a holy calling. It's just a job.

Look to your heart's content, Dr. C.

Anonymous Coward said...

Dr. Crazy - thanks for posting this.

I am struggling with deciding whether to apply this year. I am in a t-t job at a nice "elite" R1, but the reality is that my department sucks (and even though I try to do good research, I can feel myself slowly sinking into the self-satisfied mediocrity of some of the senior faculty).

To me, the issue is not "if" but "when" -- do I give it another year to get some substantial grants/pubs/more visibility/ or do I try looking now while i still have some academic buzz going from my postdoc/grad school days? How do folks decide whether it's time to apply, or to hold off a year?

Amanda said...

If anyone's interested and doesn't already know, there's a post at about Mr. Smithers, I believe...

BP said...

I assumed the poster was joking in a far too straight manner, but essentially the same comment is now on rateyourstudents, so maybe not.

Outrageous, what does he expect, that junior faculty are stuck at whatever university hires them first unless the university decides on tenure.

Plus it all-too common, several of the senior faculty in my department did exactly that.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Re: Rate Your Students - AUUUGGGGHHHHHH! (channeling Lucy Van Pelt...) Seriously, can they just shut up about this already? My blood pressure skyrockets every time I read more of this drivel! (and I know I shouldn't give them that much of my energy, but I can't help it - they piss me off.)

One thing I canNOT understand about Ed Smithers is maggie's question - which he still hasn't answered - so no one is supposed to leave a department, EVER? Because given the structure of the academic schedule - and someone somewhere made the really good point that it's not like jr faculty have any control over the hiring schedule - that is when people will leave, in the spring - it's just inherent in the system. Senior people, too, when they leave, leave in the spring. And then there are us numbnuts who get booted - we, too, get booted in the spring. ALL these things leave departments stuck with the job of replacing them for next year. Does Smithers seriously mean that departments can't ever terminate someone's contract??? After all, it has exactly the same impact as someone getting a new job!)

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, and I am equally offended by the obligatory jab at Man-Kitty! (who is NOT remotely mangy. But seriously. ad hominem, much?)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Dear Dr. Crazy --

Your self-righteous commenter made Rate Your Students... Plus, there's a follow up post with responses both pro & con.

The tone of the post ("...had occasion to let loose on some selfishness I saw among a group of junior faculty who were spending a good deal of time congratulating one another on working in tenure track jobs while slaving like mules to get better jobs in more attractive situations - close to Mommy, warmer weather, a place where their own peculiar preciousness will be admired by all.") makes me think that this person has probably been burned by jr. fac. regularly jumping ship for the sole purpose of gettting away from this a**hole.

Anonymous said...

"makes me think that this person has probably been burned by jr. fac. regularly jumping ship for the sole purpose of gettting away from this a**hole."

my thoughts exactly.

Ozma said...

This is interesting.

It makes me realize I should get out more.

I thought the 'betrayal by job search' issue was just some strange pathology of my own school.

I'm going to look next year because I might not get tenure and I'm coming up for tenure. So I sorta have to. I worry they might have a cow anyway. Who cares if I have mouths to feed? I'll be putting them through worry of losing faculty and that's pretty much what they will think about. But I'll remind them I have mouths to feed and they might chill about it. If I know them, they will prefer I immolate myself on the pyre of my tenure denial rather than create a back up plan.

What was interesting about this is that I realized a big thing keeping me where I am is that I never feel desirable enough. Maybe I'm not. But I get the feeling you are successful. The thing is, I am good. I do quality teaching, good service, good research. But it just feels like a jungle out there. I didn't used to feel like this. So this makes me realize it is SO LIKE A MARRIAGE IN EVERY WAY. I've gotten to the 'but who else would want me' phase.

Reading this, I guess that you've done well on something recently (or maybe a few things) and are striking when the iron is hot. This is my guess.

quietone said...

I can't believe no one's mentioned the elephant in the room.

Academics get their first job at around 30-35 these days, at least in humanities. An awful lot of them are married by then, and either to other academics, or to people who are well along their own career path and whom the academic met while residing in a large city with an R1.

In either case, it's often difficult for the spouse, whether academic or not, to find a decent job in his or her field in the small college community where the academic is hired. College towns of less than 25,000 don't have a lot of demand.

I haven't seen my husband since August. My cousin hasn't lived with her husband for two years. We know people who commute (or who have commuted) between SoCal and SeaTac, between Ireland and Boston, between the Southwest and London.

How can it be a surprise when those people go on the market?

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Like I said at NK's -- great post, and I will have to put my comments on my own blog, because they're long.

Michael E. said...

My comment is now, indeed, quite late, but first, of course anyone at anytime can ethically look for another job as long as he or she is continuing to perform the job he or she has well. That's employment 101.

To add something else (I think-- there were an awful lot of comments to read), as someone who has tenure and been around just a little while, one of the things that I think is very interesting is that men seem to be much more aggressive in pursuing these second and third jobs -- and in using outside offers to get raises, etc. My evidence for this is purely anecdotal, but I sense a real gender disparity around this part of professional development. Women are much more expected to be "good girls", and then get looked down upon as being disloyal, whereas men are "playing the game" and looking out for their manful selves. (I think it's also true that women are slightly less likely to move because it's hard to move when you are about to, or just have given birth. But it's the larger gender dynamic that's more interesting and pervasive.)

Let me say this, there is not one dean, one provost, one college president in this nation who will not give a new job opportunity some consideration.

Judith in Umbria said...

This has been revelatory. I've known professors who were helpful in sending juniors off to other campuses in part because when plummy jobs come up they might like to have, it's nice to have a friend on the new campus.

Most senior faculty I have known had friends all over the country or the world, and some of them came about due to being supportive to a junior looking for a better fit.

Professor Zero said...

"I also think that it's interesting the way that the go-to response to my post by Ed Smithers is to infantilize me, to imply that I'm a whore, and to tell me that I am disrespectful."

Yes - this is one of the most maddening things about the ways in which young or even youngish female academics are commonly spoken to.

Crimson Rambler said...

This, um, ongoing conversation makes me reflect that after eighteen years as a sessional I'm not...Nostalgia? Not so's you'd notice, not a bit

Steve Muhlberger said...

I'm picking out this quote not to criticize it or address its main point, but to react to a phrase:

"(That's not to say the responses are not themselves gendered, only that the opprobrium's spread around to all untenured, junior faculty who lack corporate-style commitment to their department.)"

I say, corporate-style commitment is FAKE commitment these days. Some academics in the right situation can make REAL long-term commitments that go far beyond what is really given in the modern corporate world.