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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Asking questions on the job market - Part II: about the offer

So, the hiring chair has called to let you know you’ll be receiving an offer, and the dean will be calling soon.  You are ecstatic.  Five minutes later you wonder, what do you care about in terms of an offer, what should you ask about? Well, here was my list of things I wanted to know about to the offer for evaluation purposes (excluding a few that might be more individualistic to my needs – immigration issue, same sex partnership benefits, etc).  I would very much welcome other people's suggestions.  The dean herself would often tell me many of these things on her own, and others I’d raise later so as not to overwhelm her with too many questions in one sitting.  You don't have to accept any of these answers as fixed;  you may want to negotiate some of these points (though I'd recommend doing it in a subsequent conversation), just think about this as getting information about the starting point in the offer process. 

(1)   What is the nine month salary package?  Does it get COLA-adjusted?  Does it go up on getting tenure or at other points?

(2)   What is the summer funding package? Is it automatic until tenure?  If not, how difficult is it to get approved? What expectations are attached to it as to residency, presenting work?

(3)   Is there a housing benefit or mortgage assistance program? Can you take it a year or two into teaching, if I want to rent to get more familiar with the city before choosing a place to buy?

(4)   Is there a moving allowance?

(5)   When does the tenure clock begin?  When does one go up for tenure?  Is there a possibility of going up early (or late) for tenure depending on developments?

(6)   [N.B.: this next question is a delicate one and may have negative signaling effects you may worry about, although you already have the offer on the table.  I think these are good questions to ask if the dean opens the door, but may not be ones you want to initiate.  I’d especially value the views of hiring chairs and deans and other members of the readership on whether one should ask this question.] Will the writing I’ve done before my appointment, especially my job talk paper, count towards my tenure file?  Is there a rule as to what is required for tenure (e.g., 3 articles)? If not, what is common among those who successfully go up for tenure? [By the way, you should also try and get information on any tenure denials in the last 5 years, but I would not recommend getting that info from the dean directly as a first cut; ask your recommenders and other knowledgeable parties what they know to start]

(7)   Is there one or more pre-tenure sabbatical leave?  Do you have flexibility in terms of when you choose to take it?

(8)   Is there a third year review or another formal tenure review along the way? What is the nature of more informal evaluations?  Is there a formal mentorship or sheperding? What does it look like?

(9)   What will you be teaching?  Can you get a commitment that you can keep that load, and won’t have to prep a new course before tenure, unless it is at your own initiation?

(10) Is there teaching relief in the first year? [A number of schools like UVA allow you some flexibility with credit banking rather than a course off in the first year, so you can take teaching relief later on in your pre-tenure life if you prefer, or you can teach 8 credits over two years rather than take a 6 credit load in any given year.  If this is something you prefer, it is worthwhile to see if the school will extend it to you rather than a mandatory course off in first year.]

(11)  Are there other pre-tenure sabbaticals available?

(12) What is the budget for research, books, and conferences?  Is RA time measured by hours or a one RA per person?  Can you trade within these categories or are they mandatory allocations?  Is their a process for seeking more research funding if you need it, for example, to buy a data set for an empirical project?  What is the process for applying and how often is it approved?

(13)  What is the committee work expectations of junior faculty members?

(14)  Is there a daycare facility affiliated with the school? 

(15)  Is there a tuition benefit for your children at the institution or at other sister institutions?

(16)  What is the maternity/paternity leave policy? Does it apply to adoption? Assisted Reproduction births?

(17)  Does the law school contribute to a 401K or pension? What are the details?

Posted by Glenn Cohen on April 15, 2008 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

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Glenn, these posts are very helpful, not only to rookies but even to people who are contemplating the lateral market. Thanks for doing these.

Posted by: anon | Apr 16, 2008 10:08:48 PM

Thank you so much for these posts. I had no idea that #6 was a dicey question to ask (though it certainly makes sense).

Posted by: anon | Apr 17, 2008 4:23:45 PM

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