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I think Mike's experience is right on. I went on the market while on the TT twice: once in year 4 and once in year 6 (the same year I was going up for tenure). At every fly out I asked about this, and every school was willing to give me credit for all of the work I'd done so far, and to give me credit for my previous years on the tenure track if I wanted it (I would also have had the option of "starting over" with a full clock but going up early if I wanted to.) For the job I ultimately took, I was hired at associate level and was put up for tenure immediately at my new job, which in effect meant I had tenure at the beginning of year two here, based entirely on work I'd done at my previous job. (My school had rules requiring all external hires to go through the tenure process again even if they'd had tenure at a previous job.)

One thing to watch out for: I had not written a book, and some of the departments I interviewed in required a book for tenure. If I had taken a job in one of them, I would probably have opted for the start-the-clock-over-and-maybe-go-up-early strategy.


Oh, also, because I realize it was asked about in the original question - my first job was at an R2 in a department with no grad program, and my current job is at an R1 with a PhD program.

SLAC Associate

Just make sure that whatever agreement is reached with the hiring institution, it is in writing, and when you go up for tenure be sure to include that written proof with your tenure packet. In the absence of such evidence, I've seen more than one tenure committee mark down a candidate for having done the bulk of their research at a past institution.

Tim O'Keefe

You'll definitely want to check how it works at the place you're moving to, and best of all would be something explicitly addressing the question in their P&T manual. But Mike T is basically right.

In my own case, I moved from a small public liberal arts college after my 5th year there, to a large R1 university. I got 3 years 'credit' for my previous TT service, so I came up for tenure in my third year. I checked before accepting the job, and all of my previous work would be taken into account, and I had already published enough at that point, in the right sorts of venues, to clear the typical tenure bar. So I felt pretty safe. But of course, one of the things that our tenure manual mentioned, which I think is pretty common, is the candidate's "research trajectory." So it was important that I continued being productive after I arrived and had a plausible story about my post-tenure plans and things in the pipeline. And if my external reviewers had all trashed my research and said it was a bad joke, I might have been denied tenure too, although that would have happened whether or not I had changed schools.

Keep in mind that a department with a TT opening wants to hire somebody who will successfully get tenure. So if you're already at another TT job, they wouldn't hire you if they didn't think you were likely to meet their tenure standards. Nobody at an institution is going to be put off or think less of you if you ask them for the nuts and bolts details of exactly how the P&T process works in the case of somebody like you, who is coming from another TT position.

ticking clock

My experience (moving from a SLAC to a public teaching-focused university) was a bit different.

In short, any research that had been completed (e.g. papers accepted for publication) before the start of the contract at the new place did not 'count' for tenure, even if they were actually published while affiliated with the new place. This included a paper that was accepted 10 days before the official start of the contract (at which point I was not under contract at the old job, either.) Had I known this, I would have submitted my revisions two weeks later, thus allowing the paper to 'count'.

So, although I had technically met the research requirements for tenure through previous publications, I had to start fresh. I got credit for previous years of experience, but it just meant fewer years to complete the research requirements.

The moral is that it's a good idea to look at requirements before accepting a new job and try to negotiate such things before signing the contract!


FWIW, here's my case. I worked for five years in a NTT position at a SLAC, after which I was hired TT at a regional state school and was granted one year towards tenure. After one year at this institution, I obtained a TT position at another SLAC and was given two years toward tenure. I attempted to negotiate more time off the tenure clock, but two years was the best I could get (despite being in a very good negotiating position). The regional state school had relatively low publication requirements and I ended up meeting them twice over in my first year, which put me in a position to go up early for tenure. Had I stayed, I'm very confident I would have done so. But my new position at the SLAC has a more demanding publication requirement but does not have any policy about going up early for tenure—indeed, it appears to be actively discouraged. In general, my experience has been that it is very difficult to get past publications to count towards tenure when moving to a new institution.

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