I remember reading in The Professor Is In that the tenure-track references should be from external members, not only your past advisors/supervisors.

That book is written aimed at social sciences, maybe, so, for Computer Science, in Canada (and the US), how important is it really?

I imagine that it would not be a dealbreaker for a rockstar, and that exactly how much impact would depend on the case/institution/competition, but what can I expect the impact to be?

I am currently working as a full time lecturer after two years of unemployment post disatorous tenure denial. I have two on campus visits lined up for associate professor positions. The lecturer position I currently have was advertised as an assistant/associate position which I applied for initially. The Dean asked me to apply for the lecturer position because she wanted to offer another candidate (different specialty) the tt position. Turns out the other candidate was abd and the provost insisted on hiring that position as a lecturer until dissertation was completed. Other candidate not only has not completed dissertation but teaching performance was so poor that they have decided not to renew contract. Meanwhile, my concentration has exploded with quadruplethe number of students from previous year. My teaching evaluations were glowing and they have offered another year as a lecturer. I want to reopen the possibility hiring on tt track and promotion to Associate before I get counter offers from campus visits. Pretty sure the Dean wants to keep me as a mule but the Provost might have very different ideas. Any advice on strategy?


  1. The plan is to rehire next year but the position is open now.
  2. I do not have offers now but I am a finalist for two separate positions, campus visits this week. I would like to give the Dean a letter now requesting negotiation to get the idea on the table. I’m assured work as a lecturer, want to float the possibility of getting more.
  3. There may be a more general question you could ask, such as “What factors determine whether a university will consider its non-TT lecturers for a TT position?” Noted, will consider.

I’m PhD student and I’ll be graduating in May (next year). I’ve been getting into discipline-based educational research (DBER), including developing tools, running projects, a paper or two, and applying to grants. I do this in addition to my standard research. My DBER work is almost exclusively applications of what I develop in my (primary) research (quantitative biology).

My goal is a TT job in the future. Would this be considered as general research productivity, or mark me as primarily an educator?

The title says it all. In many universities you see coaches for a team in some popular sport hanging around for many decades. I was wondering if those people had in general a status of tenured professor or equivalent, or if on the contrary they can be “fired at will”, if for example the performance of the teams they are in charge of are considered disappointing?

If the answer is really “it depends, there is no rule”, then let me say I would like to know what status had the Basketball Coach of Brandeis University who has just been fired (see this Boston Globe article).

My colleague and I, both postdocs, are going to TT positions at separate R1 public universities. For various reasons, our advisers have little idea what present startup packages look like. I am in Industrial, he is in MechE.

Here are some guesses from our last brainstorming session:

  • Equipment (thinking 100k or so)
  • Cash for travel, supplies, etc (Thinking 50k or so)
  • Grad student support (thinking 1-2 grad students for 3 years)
  • Postdoc support (might be substituted for a grad student)
  • Summer salary (for 2-3 years)

Thoughts? Additional things?

I have almost completed my Ph.D. in applied mathematics at a highly ranked private U.S. college. I am an older student with almost a decade of industrial work experience between undergrad and grad school, and so I would prefer not to go through a postdoc before I can get my teaching career into motion. As for publications, I have two (maybe three by the time I graduate) first-author papers. I have some teaching experience as a TA in the first couple of years, and I also taught my own course here last semester. My career interests mostly lie in the form of teaching, but I would also like to conduct some good research.

I have observed hiring trends and it appears as though it is impossible nowadays (without a postdoc) to get a tenure-track position at any college of higher rank than the place you got your Ph.D. (The rank doesn’t matter that much to me, but I understand the correlation between such rankings and the quality of research (and research funding) that will be available to the assistant professor). The alumni from my program, who are in tenure-track positions, are all in lower-ranked colleges – except for one holding a postdoc position in a college of similar rank.

Would you say I probably have to choose between doing a postdoc at a higher-ranked school (then apply for TT jobs at such higher-ranked schools) or simply return to industry?

I’m an assistant prof in humanities at a small school, just finishing my second year in a new position, and I’ve developed romantic feelings for a tenured faculty member (Dr X). We are both unmarried, single, and have similar areas of specialization.

Dr X is, unfortunately, currently serving in an administrative position ($$) for the first time this year, a position appointed by our somewhat mercurial dean. Because of this, Dr. X is my immediate supervisor.

We are friends, and I’m quite certain these feelings are reciprocated, but neither of us has made a move because of the rank situation.

What happens if we move forward with this? I’m on track for tenure – publishing well so far, and I have a contract and both internal and external grants for my book manuscript, which will be completed at the end of this summer.

I understand we would have to disclose, but then will Dr. X lose the administrative position if the dean disapproves? Will I potentially damage my tenure case? I’ve considered going back on the market, but the market is bad, and it seems a lot to risk on an un-tried relationship.

Suppose that you are a doctoral student in a large state university in the eastern US. You are in your final year of work and will likely defend your dissertation shortly. You already have a job in “industry” (i.e. non-academia) lined up.

Your advisor, however, would prefer that you stay for another semester or so in order for you to finish up another publication you are writing with him. Your contributions to the publication are relatively minimal as it stands, but you are the last remaining person on the project that knows any of the details about it. Your advisor, while topically knowledgeable about the subject, would need to put in significantly more time to producing the paper.

Because you anticipated this situation, you have written a document to allow for a transfer of knowledge to anyone who joins the project when you leave. This is with the assumption that the person is familiar with how to program in Python or R or MatLab (any of those would likely work). Your advisor knows none of those languages, so he cannot immediately pick up the work himself.

Long story short, your advisor wants you to stay and finish up one last project with him so that he can include it in his portfolio for tenure. If you leave before the project is complete, he likely will be unable to complete the project in time to have it considered for his tenure evaluation. This would weaken his tenure application and could also lead to the loss of a grant.

As such, he offers you a small stipend of $5000 or so to stay on an complete the paper with him. It would mean that you would need to turn down a job offer that would likely pay four times that, plus and offer that would place you in a long term job in a field you want to be in. It would also mean having to go without dental and vision insurance for another semester.

Is there a tactful way to tell the advisor you really could care less if he does not obtain tenure because of this? It is not that you necessarily hate your advisor, but you also are not exactly thrilled at the prospect of still having to work under him. (Especially for a a quarter of the salary). It’s nothing personal per se, it’s just that you do not want to write a paper for the advisor just so that he can obtain tenure.

In all, how much should a graduating student care about his or her advisor obtaining tenure?