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I don't know about the pragmatics. But I have never bought the idea that someone should have to sacrifice their career goals and happiness so others could have a slightly more enjoyable job with an extra colleague (assuming the worst case scenario that the school would lose the line.)

lost a colleague

I once lost a colleague to a job elsewhere. And the Department did in fact lose the line.
I had no hard feelings. But I do not think I am typical in this respect.
One must live their own life, as Amanda notes. But do not expect your colleagues to like it. Mine did not when we lost our colleague.
The thing to do is be as discrete as possible. DO NOT ask them to support your applications. They need not find anything out until you get the job offer (though they may find out when you go for the interview).
Mature people will be able to handle it. Usually someone is applying to quite a different sort of school, from a 4 year state college to a Research school. Then colleagues should understand. What they won't understand is if you apply to jobs at comparable places.


I recently moved from a TT-position at one institution that was teaching-oriented and into a TT-position at another institution that is research-oriented. My colleagues, as far as I know, were not aware that I was applying out. My reason for applying out was not ambition or desire for a research post, but out of security (rumors of major cuts to humanities at the college), the tendency of my senior colleagues in my program to dump their service work on me, and their complete lack of concern for the administration's pleas to improve their teaching quality and student advising (thereby further imperiling our program).

Once I announced to my colleagues in my program that I had accepted an outside position, they turned vicious in their behavior toward me, including refusing to speak to me, attempting to get me fired before my resignation date, and slandering me among colleagues outside the program. It was a very difficult time getting through the final months of my contract.

I don't think you owe your institution or colleagues any special loyalty such that you should pass on opportunities to enhance your career apart from that institution. Given my own experience applying out after only one year at my previous institution, however, I will advise you to exercise caution with respect to whom you inform about your plans to apply out, and to be prepared for some backlash if you're found out or if you land another position.


It is tough to lose a colleague and to lose a line. That being said, academia's become corporatized, and that works both ways. It means, often in practice, that schools offer us wages not much higher than what a high school teacher makes, and being a buyer's market, we have little choice but to accept a job in an area we don't like to live in, or with a high teaching load, or with low pay, or with a combination of these. Being able to go to another job is one of the few pieces of negotiating capital we have left in this market. So I do not think you owe any form of loyalty to your school, even one that treats you decently. Treating you decently is the norm.
Applying for research jobs now is OK. Strategic is to apply in your third year. Don't wait until you have tenure or the only way you can move is if you are a research superstar (who are far and few between!)


Wow Smith, good thing you got out of there! I hate to think that any colleagues are like that. You bring up a good point though: I personally think I would be happy in a teaching or research job. But research jobs are probably much less likely to get cut. (Not that anyone on the market, myself included, has much of a choice).

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