“The dean denied it” and other standard tricks of hiring

December 12, 2007

I’m always the wet blanket on people who are fielding job offers. YHN trends cynical, sure. There’s a little more to it though which is that one hears a very consistent message in Year 2-3 if a new hire is unhappy. It boils down to a failure of the hiring University to live up to the spirit (and even letter) of what was promised during the recruiting phase. The space that magically becomes “shared space”. The startup funds that get reduced or restricted. The surprises that one is supposed to pay for “out of your startup”. The new building renovations that are slow, “Oh just use this temporary space for now” becomes “Well, you have a lab we promised that to the next sucker”. Etc. The excuse is almost always “The dean won’t go for it”, “The dean denied it” and the like while the Chair insists s/he went to the mat for you. Everyone has problems doncha know….

This is all mere preamble to the experiences of ScienceWoman in a post entitled “How not to negotiate your startup funds”. A classic story and well worth reading.

Update 12/14/07: Should have known writedit would have some interesting comments on the issue.

5 Responses to ““The dean denied it” and other standard tricks of hiring”

  1. physioprof Says:

    I was so naive:

    Ring! Ring!

    PP: Hello?

    Dept Chair: Hello, PP? This is Dept Chair. I am calling to tell you that we have decided to make you an offer for the faculty position.

    PP: I’ll take it.

    Dept Chair: Umm, how about if I tell you a little bit about the offer?

    PP: OK.

    Dept Chair: Well, we will give you suitable lab space, a suitable start-up budget, and…

    PP: I’ll take it.

    Dept Chair: Umm, how about we send you a draft formal offer letter, and you consider it for a few days, call me if you have any questions or concerns, and then we can generate a final version for signing.

    PP: OK.

    PP received the letter, barely looked at it, signed it, and sent it back.

    Fortunately, Dept Chair is an extremely fair person, and she provided an offer with ample start-up funds, protection from teaching and admin stuff for a year, and excellent renovated lab space. If she had not been operating from a mindset of “we need to give PP the resources to succeed”, I would have been in big trouble.

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  2. drugmonkey Says:

    and probably in the vast majority of cases things work out okay on good will. I’m just saying that when does here disgruntlement it always falls into a familiar pattern.

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  3. physioprof Says:

    I wasn’t disagreeing. I have heard very bad stories that I am sure are true. One additional category of bad shit that goes down is during the pre-tenure appointment, particularly if the chair that hired the asst prof is not longer chair.

    I have heard of someone with a single modular R01–awarded in 2003–who uses a lot of strains of transgenic mice, being in a situation where since the award of her R01 her mouse colony per diems have more than doubled *and* her chair insisted that she put 50% effort on her single R01. She can’t even afford to hire a single post-doc to pursue the aims of the funded R01, let alone expand the scope of her research program.

    This chair–who succeeded the chair who hired her–obviously just wants to drain her R01 and then will kick her to the curb when it runs out.

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  4. drugmonkey Says:

    this would be a very good time for her to ask Program for an administrative supplement.

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  5. […] startup…by Physioprof at the new Drugmonkey… by Juniorprof about startup…at the old Drugmonkey…and by Sciencewoman about startup…and a few comments by various people on this post at […]

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