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TT to Lecturer

Original poster here. So, great! I think this answers the second part of my question. Is sounds like people without tenure are not allowed to/successful at transitioning into admin positions.

What about a lecture line? Do people who do not go up for tenure ever transition into a lecture line? Or are my career choices at this institution simply twofold: get tenure or leave the institution?

Fwiw, the advice to "get tenure" (vs. "go up for tenure") is not particularly helpful. I think we've all heard of stories where someone met the tenure guidelines but for various reasons was nevertheless denied tenure. I cannot guarantee my tenure. All I can do it meet the guidelines and then hope luck ultimately favors me. With that in mind and with my experience in this department thus far (where there have been recent tenure lawsuits), I'm no longer following the "do what you have to (even if it kills you or makes you deeply unhappy or just plain isn't what you want to be doing with your life, which seems more precious and precarious than ever these days)" advice. I'd like to be working on projects more meaningful to me, which unfortunately do not count toward the tenure guidelines, and I am wondering if there's a way I can do that at my current institution or if I will ultimately need to leave the institution.


Generally, departments do not want ghosts and zombies around. So if they deny you tenure, then they will not want to see you around. Indeed, the only way I can see you swinging a deal into a lectureship is if your spouse works there and they do not want to lose her or him or them. I have seen that done.
Believe me, your department SHOULD want you to go into administration. Since I left my department, where I did some admin, the department has contacted drastically (more than 50 % with respect to TT or T-track). The administration would never have done that while I was working for them.

TT to Lecturer

Thanks, M! In fact, my spouse does work at my institution and is going up for early tenure soon. If we were going to try to negotiate a lectureship, do you think it would be better to do that now (ideally with an outside offer) or at the end of my TT contract (in 4 years)?

Otherwise, it sounds like there's not a lot of flexibility to shift positions once on the TT? Either you get tenure or you leave the institution?

Higher Ed Admin

Well, there are a lot of administrative positions that probably don’t require you to have tenure. If you want to be dean or provost, then yes. But if you want to be director of special projects at your university, writing center director, assistant dean of your college, or anything else like that, I don’t think anyone will care about your tenure status. You could apply for open staff positions that interest you instead of trying to get your current position converted into something else. Then, you could adjunct for your old department if you still want to teach. It depends on the kind of administrative role you want.

Hope to help

I have seen a lot of people get in administration through student life---dean of student life does not require a TT appointment, at least at my university. Check out student affairs and don't be afraid to start lower (e.g., Director of Student Activities).


Just to clarify ... certainly where I have worked, people who work in student life, etc., do not come from TT lines, or do not need to be in one. But they also cannot teach. That is, they cannot teach in a discipline - they might teach courses on student success at college. But it would be the end of a philosophy career.
If you get tenure, then you can hold your place at the table, and speak your mind. You can really make a big difference ... for your department, and for the discipline.

R1 Department Chair

For background, I teach at large, public R1 (but not the flagship campus) and have done a lot of faculty type administrative work. The NTT position possibility and the administrative position possibility present some different and some shared issues. One reason that departments might be reluctant to move someone from a TT line to NTT line is that they might feel that they have essentially given up a TT track position and TT positions are valuable in ways that NTT positions often aren't. If you get denied tenure and leave they might be authorized for a TT search to replace you. If you abandon tenure and teach the same courses in a NTT position it will be harder to justify replacing you with someone on the tenure track.

My university is full of administrative positions that do not require a tenure track appointment. The top jobs (Associate Dean, Dean and higher) are reserved for tenure track faculty but there are plenty of other substantial roles that don't have this requirement. The problem is that as a faculty member, unless you have been involved in administration outside the department, you may not have the kind of documented track record that they are looking for in hiring into these positions. So the only jobs you may be eligible for and/or a strong candidate for might be relatively low level positions.

You are probably aware of this but both the administrative route and the NTT route will probably involve a significant pay cut. Since negative tenure reviews are often somewhat traumatic many institutions may be reluctant to keep a possibly disgruntled former faculty member on in a different role. This might be a reason to start working on this before tenure. It's a little delicate, however, how to approach this. It would really help to start exploring options and talking to people about what you would have to do to make yourself attractive in an administrative role. But if you still are considering undergoing a tenure review then doing those kinds of things might create a perception of you that will make obtaining tenure harder.

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