Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Job posting: 2 visiting assistant professorships, Crawfordsville, IN

From the inbox: 
Visiting Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry 
The Wabash College Chemistry Department invites applications for a one-year position in Analytical Chemistry to begin July 1, 2015. Undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry required. The successful candidate will teach analytical chemistry and contribute to first-year chemistry courses.  
The Chemistry Department is ACS certified, has six full-time faculty, excellent facilities and instrumentation, and support for undergraduate research. Further information about the department can be obtained here.   
Apply here;  and submit a letter of application, vitae, undergraduate and graduate transcripts, statement of teaching principles, and three letters of recommendation. Materials must be received by February 27, 2015.  Questions may be directed to Dept. 
Chair, Lon Porter at porterl@wabash.edu.  
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry 
The Wabash College Chemistry Department invites applications for a one-year position as a Visiting Assistant Professor beginning July 1, 2015. The area of specialization is open with renewal for a second year possible based on department and college needs. Undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry or biochemistry required. The teaching assignment of approximately 12 contact hours per semester will be primarily in general chemistry with other courses determined by area of specialization. 
To apply, go here  and submit a letter of application, vitae,  undergraduate and graduate transcripts, statement of teaching principles, and three letters of recommendation. Materials must be received by February 27, 2015.  Questions may be directed to Dept. Chair, Lon Porter at porterl@wabash.edu.  
Wabash College, a liberal arts college for men, seeks faculty and staff committed to providing quality engagement with students, high levels of academic challenge and support, and meaningful diversity experiences that prepare students for life and leadership in a multicultural global world. We welcome applications from persons of all backgrounds. EOE.
Best wishes to those interested!  

49 comments:

  1. "a liberal arts college for men".

    I would not have guessed such a place still existed. Oddly, the chemistry dept (http://www.wabash.edu/academics/chemistry/) seems to be depicting a female.

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    1. I stand corrected, they do seem to have several female faculty members. Still, seems peculiar.

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    2. Ha, i was thinking the exact same thing. I guess it's nice to know there's still some out there--i know there's still several all-women's schools, so balance.

      In the same way, i know most women's schools have male faculty members.

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  2. "meaningful diversity experiences"? It sounds so clinical. Are these like play dates for the students where they bring in some "diversity" for them to play with, or is it more along the lines of a laboratory class in gross anatomy?


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  3. I feel really strongly about adjunct positions, but these people wrote to your inbox, so I won't insult anyone directly like I usually do when I see adjunct positions on 'Ivory filter flask'. This to me sounds like an adjunct position, and unless it comes with a large enough salary and a clear route to permanent employment, it is exploitative and indicative of much that is wrong with academia. I think you should not publish adjunct ads when they come to your inbox as a rule. At the very least, the university must have a very, very good explanation as to why they are seeking an adjunct and should also explain how they are not going to exploit them as cheap, overworked, temporary teaching labor. I don't think not having enough money for another professor is a good excuse.

    An adjunct position for an undergraduate teaching college also seems rather sad, as I assume the rest of the faculty also do mostly teaching. Of course, maybe adjuncts are treated better in such places than in the big research institutions I'm used to. I don't know enough on that.

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    1. I have always seen a VAP as different than an adjunct, perhaps I am wrong. "Substitute chemistry professor" is always how I have seen them.

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    2. It seems to depend on who's posting. Other commentators stated that VAP's traditionally have benefits associated with them. They may also have administrative duties beyond teaching. Of course, the tricky word in what I just wrote is "traditionally." I'm under the impression that several places use "VAP," "Instructor," "Lecturer," and/or "Adjunct" interchangeably nowadays to refer to a relatively low-paying, teaching-heavy, and short-term position. A "VAP" at one place may effectively be an "Adjunct" at another.

      Another item that comes to mind is whether a VAP can be serve as a transition to a more permanent position. The answer is usually no. Whenever I've seen non-tenure track instructors move into the tenure track at the same institution, it's been to resolve a two-body problem.

      In any event, anyone who's interested in this position should be sure to determine exactly what will be asked of them and what they'll receive in return.

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    3. Well consider these possibilties: 1.) one-year temp positions in a small college are possibly to allow a faculty member to go on sabatical or if the faculty is a woman she can take leave to raise a child, and 2.) to get a job in a small college, even at a 2-year community college, you must have college teaching experience. At the CC I adjunct as one of the teachers there had to do two one-year stints at small colleges to get the experience needed to be offered the position.

      I think its ridiculous that even community colleges now are looking for college teaching experience, when really what is needed is high school teaching experience, if anything.

      Anyway, temp positions do allow some opportunity for advancement, but you will have to use it as experience to find a job elsewhere.

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  4. Adjuncts are not ideal, but no one is being forced to take these positions. Beyond warm fuzzies, why should academia be any different from industry or government when it comes to temporary hiring? Wabash is likely seeking an adjunct as they have six faculty members, have to teach a constant number courses AND accommodate a variable sabbatical requests. Wabash could, presumably, obtain sufficient faculty, but would likely have to increase tuition to cover this, which people also don't like.

    I agree it's sad that universities rely as much on adjuncts as they do, but this is just an extension of society as a whole in which we want commodity X and are unprepared to pay more than Y for it: this is why we've moved our tube sock factories to Asia and why we import foreign workers (both with and without government approval) to pick our lettuce and cauliflower. Farmers could employ Americans in agriculture or construction if we were willing to pay $12 for a head of lettuce: this may fly for artisanal lettuce in Brooklyn or Portland.

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  5. I don't see much difference between VAPs and adjuncts. They are both ways to exploit the oversupply of labor in academia and the overabundance of hope in PhDs who think they have a chance of getting a tenure-track position. I went to a school much like Wabash and I witnessed a steady stream of adjuncts and VAPs being used up and thrown away to make room for the new cheap labor.

    Race to the bottom! Everybody's doing it!

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  6. I graduated from Wabash and was contacted about recommendations for these positions. I actually recommended that this be publicized here since I know no one trying to be a professor of analytical chemistry. The analytical professor is retiring at the end of this year and they did not successfully find any candidates to fill a tenure track position this last fall. I assume that this is a one year stint and they will try again this year to fill a tenure track position.

    And yes it is an all male institution. One of only two remaining schools (the other being Hampton-Syndey in Virginia).

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    1. Ouch. There's at least six of the Seven Sisters still all-female, and who knows how many others (although i think Chatham in Pittsburgh has recently gone coed, and Mills in Oakland was talking about it?).

      Wikipedia puts it at 48.

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    2. I might not have been clear on this, but I have nothing against Wabash, and I'm willing to assume it's a great school and offers a great education. And yes, with a professor retiring / going on sabbatical / taking childbirth leave, it might be able to explain the desperation of a school looking for a temporary prof (I have no idea why they can't ask a senior graduate student, or a senior grad student from a neighboring university if they don't have a grad school to fill in for a semester or two, especially as a lot of grad students will be grateful for the experience). But it gets a little suspicious when every single university is looking for these VAPs all the time, and many of them are regularly employed for several years at a time for bad pay, only to be discarded a bit later. Did 50% of the nation's professors go on sabbaticals / childcare leave? Also, one analytical prof might be retiring, but they are looking for two positions. Did two faculty searches fail?

      This 'not being able to find anyone' came up before on the blog with regards to a place in Oklahoma. Needless to say, it mostly comes down to not offering good conditions and pay and not looking hard enough. Since this is mostly a teaching university, I don't see why, if the candidate turns out to be good at teaching, the position doesn't come with a clause to be turned into a tenure track one.

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    3. Morehouse College is all male, I thought?

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  7. VAPs are full time and most come with benefits, unlike adjuncts. Usually to take the place of someone on sabbatical. No job security though.

    Though the liberal arts college I graduated from brought in a VAP my senior year in '95 and he kept the position over 10 years I think, before moving on. Apparently because the administration wouldn't commit to a new TT line for the dept.

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  8. I am former faculty member who left academia for industry, because there are so few academic positions in the US which are long-term (i.e. tenured or at least tenure-track) and allow anything more than service teaching. While at the same time, same academic institutions are saturated with over-paid managers, vice-presidents and administrators, who frequently have ZERO academic qualifications.

    US academic institutions depend on "contingent faculty" for 70% of their teaching. And what is the ACS doing about this? Apparently, they are all too willing to accept advertisement for contingent faculty, as one can read at the back of each C & E N issue. CJ, I would also expect better of you, as Uncle Sam has already pointed out.

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  9. and: I sure as hell hope that whoever sent you that advertisement also reads these comments. May a plague be upon both their houses.

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  10. "CJ, I would also expect better of you"

    "I think you should not publish adjunct ads when they come to your inbox as a rule"

    No reason to chide the messenger for providing, for free yet(!), a useful service for both employer and potential employee.

    If you want to blame someone for poorly paid temporary work, start with those of us who refuse to pay $25 for a tube sock or $17 for a bunch of carrots. I'm sure American textile workers and farmers would be grateful.

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    1. Rather poor example. Costco sells made in USA wool-blend athletic socks for $12/4 pack. I'm wearing a pair right now. Nowhere near $25, and I happen to know domestic full-time sock factory workers.

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    2. You must be some sort of political lunatic. I was alive a few decades ago and, while people often had to do without luxury items like electronics, it's not like only rich people could afford socks. Outsourcing textiles was a 'want' to make people richer, not a 'need' - and how much of the savings are passed on to you, the glorious customer? Not as much as you probably think. You must admire the ultra-wealthy and have delusions of joining them. Why don't you go overseas and work in their Chinese slave factories? They'd probably let you be 'boss'. Wouldn't that be great?

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    3. I think this discussion has reached its useful end. Surely this is not the only place on the internet to discuss trade policy in such terms.

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  11. I basically agree with you here, but Ill be curious to see how you feel if you ever get to a place where you are surrounded by cheap labor and you know that in part the competition keeps your wages low, and you feel you have few other options.

    Its a race to the bottom, but to me the solution is that workers in other countries need to have an improved standard of living so the work and workers stay in their own country. Does make you appreciate AmerIca and the west though.

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  12. "Its a race to the bottom"

    Sadly, it is. From a extreme left-wing position this should be good in terms of making everyone on the planet equal: great for those starting with little, less so for Americans....

    Unless we want to erect trade barriers, which as shareholders of large corporations and consumers of goods we don't want to, it's hard to imagine how things won't get worse. The GOP already wants to gut environmental regulations in the name of competitiveness---guess who elected them?

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  13. "making everyone on the planet equal". Well, more like a world-wide plutocracy. But the plutocrats in the USA will be as wealthy as the ones in China. How nice.

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    1. Agree. You can't make everyone equal. No one is born equal. But a better system is making everyone has equal opportunities to succeed.

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  14. Some plutocracy is good. Unbridled plutocracy forcing changes (globalization, environment) that we can't reasonably handle is bad.
    Some left-wing equality is good. Broadens markets, brings better living conditions, restrains plutocracy. Unbridled left-wing equality is only destructive. I lived in it, so trust me, don't test it.
    "Trickle down", "temp workers are free" and similar nonsense is bad. Responsibility is good.
    Any extreme, one-sided view point is bad when implemented. Revolutions are bad, too. Debate, responsible accounting for all costs, open mindedness are all good.
    Some visiting/adjunct positions are good. Unbridled all-adjunct schools are bad for adjuncts and for students.

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  15. I am the one who posted the job. We had a failed tenure track search for the analytical position, and will search again for at tenure track line in the fall. The other is a sabbatical replacement; with six faculty, we have someone out on sabbatical 6/7ths of the time. So both positions have the possibility for continuance in one way or another. It is not an adjunct position; it is a faculty salary and includes benefits. We see these as mentoring opportunities, and previous visiting faculty members have gone on to successful careers at other institutions.

    P.S. I am female. We have female professors and administrators, no female students.

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  16. Ha! I love it when the comment section explodes like this. Troubling times in the Kingdom of Chemistry.

    I am always amused at how progressive and egalitarian the professoriate see themselves as, and at the same time replace themselves with temporary workers so they can take extended, paid vacations. They are the beneficiaries of a rigid caste system with great power and wealth inequalities, but are also likely to decry how terrible the Koch brothers and Walmart are. When confronted with this cognitive dissonance, you can expect them to fall back on the "mentoring" and "experience" rationalizations. Eventually they will point out that they worked so hard to get where they are and they deserve all the trappings in the winner-take-all game of tenure. It's fun to watch them suddenly morph from Mother Jones to Ayn Rand.

    Sorry Wabash Chemistry, I don't mean to pick on you. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time (Happy National Adjunct Walkout Day, by the way!) and catalyzed the expression of discontent that already saturated the air. These are things that are endemic to Academia as a whole. Perhaps the failed tenure track search is another indication of the dysfunction of Academia. How can a field with so many over-trained applicants end up with so many failed searches? It must be the candidates, right? Maybe it's choice paralysis or perhaps hiring committees are just plain bad at hiring. Faculty think they are hiring a new lifelong friend and are usually let down when they realize they didn't do a good job of predicting someone's personality from one day when everybody put their best foot forward. Perhaps that's why so many faculty hate each other so much despite all this worry about "fit". I feel the outcomes would probably be just as good if the successful candidate was randomly chosen from the pile of applicants who have the minimum credential. I think that might even be a better way to increase diversity, but alas it might only be diversity of ideas and personality.

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    1. Sorry, needed to edit some potentially private data out...

      You will be happy to hear the only adjuncts Wabash hires are for specialty positions where the person has a full time "day" job; in particular, accounting (the professor has a full time practice in town), music (once a week private lessons), and occasionally art. Sometimes a faculty spouse will teach a section or two of English comp when we have a bumper crop of freshmen, but that is usually a win/win situation. You can check out how our visiting profs (and regular ones for that matter) get paid in the AAUP salary report.

      Our first search failed because we had a tiny pool (less than 10% of what an opening in History has right now) and 90% of our tiny pool weren't analytical chemists (which is the area of specialty). We weren't looking for a best friend, we were looking for someone who could pass the review process, and we thought it was better to cut bait than hire someone who wouldn't make it; that is painful for everyone. We are a niche place; just like the students, faculty come in spite of it being all male, not because it is all male. But our students are hard working and good, and our alumni are very successful and loyal. Faculty and administration get along well, and I am happy to teach there.

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    2. Classic Comment Anon 8:34, I largely agree. But I think small colleges, for the most part, are forced to work on a budget and so there is not too much waste due to lack of productivity of an individual for the salary he/she is paid, as I think your comment may imply.

      However, its a pretty serious problem at my RO1, where faculty near, at, or beyond retirement age pull well into 6-figures and do squat; lot more lately with NIH funding drying up. My boss had an interesting idea that inactive faculty could work in a funded lab as a researcher (on their faculty salary) and research would lead to their names on publications, which they could parlay into perliminary data for grants. But most faculty beyond 50 yrs old either cannot (incompetence) or will not (laziness) do the work necessary. They appear to think that they have valuable "experience" to share which is worth the 6 fig salary they make a year.

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    3. I'm always very suspicious of a small college having a "failed" search for a faculty member. There are plenty of chemists who would love to have a nice position teaching chemistry to adults at $50 K a year, and plenty of full time starving-adjuncts looking for a full time position. I think these colleges are just extremely selective, and there are things that one may not expect play into the search.

      One thing Ive come to realize is how important web-sites for these small colleges are and I think its is, in part, because they want to brag about how their teachers got PhD's from elite schools, even though this a poor predictor of teaching ability. Snob appeal works for these small colleges.

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    4. THREE candidates in the original search were analytical chemists? In a nationwide search?

      Something is very wrong with your process if that's the case.

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    5. Not neccessarily -- I've had a similar experience as a faculty member at an institution similar to Wabash. We also searched for a tenure-track analytical chemist. We searched the way everyone else does (including Wabash), using C&E News and other faculty job websites that people looking for faculty job look at. The results were very similar to what Wabash saw: not very many applicants and many of them not analytical chemists. We were very fortunate that our search ended up with a successful hire.

      I don't think I agree with the comment above about the snob appeal at small colleges. Teaching is one important part of the job, but there are definitely significant expectations to interact with students in a research setting, apply for grants, etc.

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    6. May I make a humble suggestion? Perhaps the problem is that these national-level internet searches aren't a particularly good way to recruit candidates to small colleges. I would suggest personal recruiting, but I recognize that this has a different time requirement and you're far more likely to get "candidates that look like people we like."

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    7. Anonymous10:13 again... That would seem to be a valuable additon, but I wouldn't abandon national-level internet searches altogether. There is always a pool of candidates looking for positions and the current system works pretty well in distributing information (departments know where to advertise, candidates know where to look). One factor that I forgot to mention is that I think the supply/demand situtation for analytical chemists is different than the other areas of chemistry. I suspect that Wabash (and my institution) would have had a very different experience if we were searching for organic, inorganic, or physical chemistry faculty.

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    8. CJ probably has the right idea; leveraging connections from the region and/or RO1s in the area might produce more results, and as long as you keep it open to national applicants then you should have a decent response while still allowing for 'diversity'.

      The Wabash faculty are not superstar-pedigreed but the usual suspects are well represented: Princeton, UCSF, Purdue, UW Madison, ... Certainly the last two might have some ABDs available, who already know and like living in the Midwest? Just a thought.

      Thanks to Ann for responding here, interesting to hear your take on the process.

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    9. Well, this was an attempt to widen our net :)

      We advertised the tenure track position in C&EN and through contacts in both the area of specialization and with universities in the area (Purdue, IU, IUPUI, and IUIC). For these positions, I have contacted every chemistry major alumnus who went to graduate school in chemistry during my sixteen years here (about sixty students), asking them to share the position with their department and anyone they knew who might be looking. Crickets.

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    10. Hi Ann, I have no problem admitting that I was wrong in this particular case (as I said I could be in my original post), and it sounds like with full salary and benefits, you'll be looking out for the person you hire.

      However, I'm not going to apologize for my general point and I still think that the number of adjunct (or other euphemism) positions is indicative of a very bad trend that should be fought against in general. C&EN is definitely not going to do it as all they care about is money from advertising. Although they might run a column by Benderly, like Science does, where she could talk about the economics of faculty hires and the job market. But Chemjobber could definitely try not to give special attention to jobs like these when they come to the inbox, especially since the general description sounded like a classical adjunct position. And adjuncts do most of the teaching in universities and colleges in the country these days and are treated terribly, all the while the number of administrators with good salaries keeps growing.

      I also agree with his point on personal recruiting as being a better fit for small colleges. Also maybe sending a poster to some big analytical chemistry people in the field, and ask them to mention it in their group meeting and put it up on the billboard at the department office.

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    11. The folks skeptical that a search could produce so few candidates need to realize that the ochem and analytical job markets are completely worlds apart. CJ seems to draw most of his readership from the Ochem/synthetic side. I'm not in academia. But our company's ochem positions can draw hundreds of quality applicants even with fairly low pay being advertised. The analytical market is way, way tighter. If we offered the typical salary for analytical that we do for synthetic, we would get nobody. That's because we are competing with the instrument manufacturers (e.g. Thermo and Agilent) and the oil and gas companies who always have analytical positions open and they can outbid everybody. It's been this way for at least the 10 years since I left grad school and my boss says it's been that way for a couple decades before that. Chem Departments overproduce ochem people in mass and tend to underproduce analytical people and they have been doing so for quite some time.

      I find it entirely believable that a small liberal arts college in the Midwest that also is a single sex school might have difficulty finding someone in analytical. Though I would recommend they expand their personal recruiting pool to the other universities outside Indiana but still in their region that have strong analytical programs (UIUC, Madison, Cincinatti, etc.)

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    12. Okay, criticizing CJ for posting jobs is a great cut-off-your-nose attitude. This job's "beneath" you? Don't apply!

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    13. Uncle is a beloved commenter and his criticisms are received well. I think I will continue to post VAPs when they come into the inbox, but I'll probably link to some of my past posts about them (which are not complimentary, I believe.)

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    14. I don't know... a few years ago C-jobs posted a job (that was in the middle of the crisis) in the Midwest and said the description was detailed and wanted a lot and he said it was crappy. I looked over it and thought it was actually a pretty good offer and I said so. In terms of adjunct jobs, maybe I'm affected by the recent stories in the media about how horrible the whole phenomenon is, so it's not that I'm saying the job is 'beneath' someone, I'm saying that promoting adjunct jobs is bad for chemists and academia in general. Besides, I thought that this blog was a place where we could discuss views on chemistry jobs, and not just a posting board. I guess my view of adjunct jobs was a bit too strong, but hey, it got this place a lot of comments, and probably Wabash is more likely to find a person now.

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    15. I just think all jobs are an opportunity for someone. Something that is short-term and in the middle of nowhere might be perfect for someone just looking for the experience, or nearby for some reason. Caveat... well not emptor but all that.

      Also i don't know why i ever speak up for CJ.

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    16. I don't know either, but I appreciate it nonetheless, b-dubs. You are a beloved commenter as well.

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  17. @NMH

    The only way academia will be able to get rid of the 'unproductive professors' is to become like the private sector and get rid of tenure. It's hypocritical of anyone with the benefits of tenure (obviously not you) to complain about faculty they don't feel are productive. Can't have it both ways. Sneak into a faculty meeting and bring this up, see how far it goes...

    You've brought this up a few times in various posts here. I'm not sure if it's sour grapes or jealousy, but I'm sure you'd be the first one to give up that 'six figure' salary and tenure when the grant money started to dry up.

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    1. Well, that's a good point.

      However, I voluntarily asked my boss for a 20% paycut this year ( so that I am now currently paid $38,000 for this year) to extend the lifetime of the NIH soft money I am on.

      My boss, OTOH, makes a 1/4 of million a year and has not asked for any deduction, as far as I know. Nor have the elderly professors that I know of on 100% salary.

      So I think I'm a good candidate to voluntarily give up money if it benefits the lab, as I have just done it. So I think its fair for me to speak from the moral high ground.

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    2. If there was no tenure, then me and my wife would not probably apply for professor positions. You have to do a lot of work outside normal working hours and the pay in our field is not nearly as high as someone with our glamor magz pubz and by now lots of practical experience, would get in industry to start. Besides the fact that I like doing research and deciding what I want to work on, we applied so that at least one of us would have a stable job that would be resistant to industry downturns and recessions, as well as give us a chance to retire with some money saved.

      No tenure? No deal. The small salary (relatively, it takes a long time for an assistant prof to make it to three figures) coupled with insecurity and very long work hours would not be worth it. Forget about doing two postdocs even. I would go to DOW or BASF straight after the first or second postdoc year.

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  18. Decades ago, my Ph.D. advisor got hired as an assistant professor from being a post-doc when his advisor unexpectedly died. He retired recently from the same major university after thirty-odd years.

    Nowadays, I suppose they would have politely asked him to leave so they could hire a VAP.

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