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« Teaching in the era of ChatGPT? | Main | Tips for applying to full-time NTT "teaching positions"? »

12/07/2022

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commuter

Some thoughts from someone who lives an hour from their campus because I don't want to live in the city where the institution is:

a) you don't need to tell your chair where you live
b) even if they find out, if you fulfill your contractual obligations, they have no reason to complain
c) as the other commenter noted, some imbalance in service is likely to result--make this up in other ways.

Daniel Weltman

At my university lots of professors live 1+ hours away. It hasn't been a huge issue in my department and especially since Covid when many meetings moved online, it has been even less of a big deal. But before Covid, when it came to people outside my department on committees, it was sometimes kind of a pain to schedule things around the commuters, and that probably generated some resentment of the sort described above.

Bill Vanderburgh

I live 91 miles from my campus and commute in to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I make an effort to attend important events that aren't on those days, especially department meetings. I do miss some events that are optional. One time I had to cancel class at the last minute because there was an accident and they closed the highway. But it isn't true that I do less service because I am less on campus. I just find other ways to contribute. (Like running our last few searches, agreeing to teach occasional evening classes that are unpopular with other faculty, etc.) The only thing I really miss out on is a bit more informal interaction with my department colleagues, but I always did my research at home anyway, even when I lived a six-minute walk from my office.

Whether your department chair "likes" something you are free to do strikes me as a baffling concern, perhaps indicative of an inappropriately controlling chair or a department that demands conformity to its historical norms. Covid proved we don't need to be in the office to make a good-enough contribution. As long as you do what your contract says you are paid to do (something like: teach, hold a certain number of office hours, do your share of service, and publish at an acceptable rate), you aren't doing anything wrong. Plus you are already tenured, so they really can't do anything if they don't like it.

Caveat: California, where I live, has decided that if you are paid by the state, then you have to live in the state. So moving out of state and, say, flying your private plane in to teach a couple of times a week wouldn't be allowed. But it would be HR, not the chair, that would have something to say about that. Just know the laws/regulations where you are.

There are two trillion galaxies of a billion stars each, and this is the only place we know that has sentient beings. Live a little. There is no reason to let work or where you reside make you miserable.

Tim

There has only been one case of a professor being denied tenure at my university because of lack of service work that I know of. This person used the excuse that they lived 90 minutes away to refuse any service that required them to be on campus on non-teaching days. It was a small department, and they were not at all happy about this, so even though this person was very productive and had high teaching reviews, they were denied tenure.

So long as you actually do your job, however, where you live, so long as it is in the state you teach, is no one's business but yours.

historygrrrl

I worked at one place where there was a person (in another department) that was commuting 300 miles round-trip from another state. This faculty member did a *ton* of service, taught a normal schedule, made full professor, etc.

There were also a number of faculty commuting anywhere from 50-150 miles round trip, some also from another state.

It turns out that rural, small-town 'Merica is not for everybody: some people want cities, others want farms. I have no idea how these people did all that driving or how they paid for all that gas (there were not functional trains or anything like that).

I think the main thing, if you want to be a long-distance commuter, is to (a) make sure not to request unreasonable accommodations for teaching/service, and (b) have some kind of plan for bad weather. Maybe your region does not have snowstorms/tropical storms/flooding; if it does, it can be a good idea to have someplace near campus where you can crash out if the roads shut down for a day or two.

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