Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A new kind of PFO: Mid-Negotiating, Post-Offer

Update, 3/21: See this and this round-up of the news coverage and insightful commentaries.

Update, 3/14: See W's response here

Another reader of the blog writes in about the "fair amount of research on the backlash women can face when they negotiate, what causes the backlash effects, and how to keep them to a minimum. For a brief-and-breezy summary I recommend this article in the Washington Post." Our helpful reader also says, "If you would rather read a journal article with plenty of references to the literature, see [here]."

We're perhaps past negotiating season for those who secured job offers. But some people might still be negotiating, and some will definitely be negotiating in the future. This story is especially relevant to those people.

Spiros had a discussion on negotiating some time ago (Leiter also has a thread up about deferring a post-doc that is relevant here). He ended the post by asking:
But is there any reason why recruiting Universities should expect would-be new faculty to manifest that restraint themselves by simply not asking for the usual deal-sweeteners? Could it be right to give would-be new faculty the sense that merely asking for more stuff serves to (lightly) strain the new faculty's relationship with the administration?
W, a friend of the blog shared a story about 'negotiations' with a SLAC--Nazareth College--that shows how at least one SLAC thinks about potential employees asking for "the usual deal-sweeteners." Now, it's not clear how much or if this story generalizes at all, but it's worth pointing out that at least in the case of this SLAC, asking for some fairly standard "deal-sweeteners" was cause enough to retract the offer altogether without further discussion.

Why?

The SLAC's thinking was that by asking for certain things W had "[indicated] an interest in teaching at a research university and not at a college...that is both teaching and student centered."

I don't see how that necessarily follows or can even be easily divined from W's attempts to negotiate (I've included the relevant e-mails forwarded to me below). At the very least--and of course, I've made this judgment on the basis of limited information--I think that if the requests did raise questions, the SLAC should have discussed with their reservations about her interest in teaching at a college.

If there were any doubts, questions wouldn't have been hard to ask, especially if they had entertained her candidacy through multiple rounds of interviewing seriously enough to offer her a job. Why did W want the things she requested? Because she cared more about her research than teaching? Were some of her requests to ensure she had the time to do what she needed to do to get tenure and teach well (while possibly getting other parts of her life started, hence the request for maternity leave)? Etc.

If W was unable to answer the questions in a way that demonstrated her commitment to providing the type of education a SLAC wants to give their students, then I could understand their position. But to send a PFO on the basis of a few requests--some of which appear prima facie reasonable (maternity leave, an increase in salary), but some of which W acknowledges as "easier to grant than others"-- seems a disproportionate response (even if it was well within the rights of the SLAC to do something like that).

Here are the e-mails.

W's:
As you know, I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of coming to Nazareth. Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier. 
1) An increase of my starting salary to $65,000, which is more in line with what assistant professors in philosophy have been getting in the last few years. 
2) An official semester of maternity leave. 
3) A pre-tenure sabbatical at some point during the bottom half of my tenure clock. 
4) No more than three new class preps per year for the first three years. 
5) A start date of academic year 2015 so I can complete my postdoc. 
I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others. Let me know what you think.
Nazareth's:
Thank you for your email. The search committee discussed your provisions. They were also reviewed by the Dean and the VPAA. It was determined that on the whole these provisions indicate an interest in teaching at a research university and not at a college, like ours, that is both teaching and student centered. Thus, the institution has decided to withdraw its offer of employment to you. 
Thank you very much for your interest in Nazareth College. We wish you the best in finding a suitable position.
Yup. That's it. End of correspondence there. It's that last part, the refusal to negotiate before rescinding the offer of employment, that I found really flabbergasting.

-- Jaded, Ph.D.

287 comments:

1 – 200 of 287   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

This is in no way intended as a criticism of W or anyone else, but I think this indicates how important it is to do your best to understand the culture and needs of the hiring institution, both before and during negotiations. As has been stressed in other threads around here, the "will so-and-so be a good colleague and carry their fair share of the burden?" is often one of (if not *the*) most important considerations during the hiring process at small institutions.

A quick perusal of Nazareth's website shows four full-time faculty members and (if I'm deciphering the class schedule correctly) a 4/4 teaching load. Given such small staffing and such large course loads, any grant of course releases, sabbaticals, or the like would result in significantly increased workloads for the rest of the department. I can see how the department could have looked at the combination of requests #3, 4, and 5 and began to worry that W was not going to be the colleague they hoped for.

I'm not sure that justifies their response, but I can at least understand it.

Anonymous said...

It's a buyer's market. Things aren't just sub-optimal for applicants that don't get jobs/interviews. I would be very reluctant to ask for any sweeteners, since members of search committees often report that they would have been happy to hire ANY of the candidates they interviewed and flew out.

Anonymous said...

This is really strange. Perhaps they interpreted this as a list of demands? Or maybe they thought they couldn't offer any of these things and that W would end up taking another job. And in the interest of securing their runner-up, they might have preemptively ruled W out. Has anybody ever heard of something like this happening before?!

Jaded, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for the nice response, Anon. You raise some good points.

You seem right that knowing the culture of the school that offered you the job is surely important. Part of that includes knowing that certain things are easier to grant at research schools than SLACs and so on.

I'm not sure that W made any such mistakes given her caveats, but as you say, Nazarth's worries don't seem beyond the realm of the reasonable. But, also as you say, those worries--even if within the realm of the reasonable--still don't seem sufficient to justify their response.

Anonymous said...

I can't blame Nazareth for this response. Correctly or incorrectly, Nazareth inferred that W would either go on the market again before that post-doc was up, parlaying the $65,000 salary for negotiations elsewhere, or would try to use that sabbatical for research/publishing in an attempt to get a job before tenure.

No single request by W was unreasonable in itself; I think 1 & 2 together were reasonable. But 3-5 can easily be interpreted as expressing W's hope to land a research job somewhere else. If I'm Nazareth, I don't have to hire W; in this market, there are plenty of candidates who really want to teach at my institution. Further, W might seem to me to be very out of touch with the culture of my institution. Finally, by suggesting that meeting these 5 requests would make the decision 'easier' for W to make, W makes it 'easier' for me to retract the offer.

I hope that whoever advised W on this negotiation doesn't set up additional candidates to fail.

Anonymous said...

I think W should consult an attorney. It is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that the real reason the offer was rescinded was the request for maternity leave. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that's a blatant violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Anonymous said...

I think it is unfair to retract the offer, but do have to say the demands here seem pretty unreasonable, especially as the college likely as college-wide policies on almost all of these issues. To ask them to tailor so many of these policies is unreasonable. People really should be giving their graduate students better advice on how to negotiate.

Anonymous said...

I think it is unfair to retract the offer, but do have to say the demands here seem pretty unreasonable, especially as the college likely as college-wide policies on almost all of these issues. To ask them to tailor so many of these policies is unreasonable. People really should be giving their graduate students better advice on how to negotiate.

Anonymous said...

I thought once an offer was made it couldn't be retracted until it expired so there was no risk of this kind to be had when negotiating!

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is shocking. I'm almost tenured, and have served on several SC's, and I have advised friends on the market to negotiate strongly, telling them not to worry about the job offer being rescinded. I have *never* heard of this happening until now. W's unfortunate situation is really food for thought.

That said, were I at a 4/4 institution, I would look at this list and think, ok, she's not coming next year, then wants approximately a year off (sabbatical + maternity) before tenure. That means she will not be teaching for two of the next six years. That's 16 courses that need to be covered, which is a lot. I know that *I* would be tired of teaching 4/4, and would not at all want to cover for anyone else. Basically, I'm agreeing with Anon 10:46 here.

In fact, it could be that the line is open b/c someone left for greener pastures. I've seen faculty get pretty gunshy about this and react irrationally during job searches.

If I had a a friend who sent me this email to review prior to sending it to the department, I would have counseled her to remove the pre-tenure leave request. That is simply not done at 4/4 schools. I would also have suggested asking for no more than a 5-8% increase in salary. Finally, I would have suggested that she adopt a slightly more open tone.

But again, I'm really surprised that they just rescinded their offer completely. I hope W has a back up.

I also hope this wasn't due to her demand for maternity leave...

Anonymous said...

I'll say that I teach at a SLAC with a lower teaching load and higher research expectations than Nazareth, and some of those requests would have raised eyebrows here. We would definitely not have pulled the offer, but we would have wondered how well they understood what they were getting into.

Although, no one should be having to negotiate for maternity leave, because humane institutions should have a decent policy in place already. And pulling the offer is really bad behavior. I hope W landed on her feet somewhere.

Anonymous said...

"It is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that the real reason the offer was rescinded was the request for maternity leave. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that's a blatant violation of anti-discrimination laws."

Possible? Yes. Likely? Not sure about that.

Had W only asked for 1-2 and then had her offer retracted, then it would likely been the maternity leave request that caused Nazareth to balk (though the offer was knowingly made to a woman who, as far as Nazareth knows, might have children at some point). But given the unreasonableness of the conjunction of 3, 4, and 5, it seems to me more likely that the offer was retracted due to the excessive conditions W outlined for making her decision 'easier'.

Now, if candidate #2 or #3 gets something roughly equivalent to 3-5 from Nazareth, and this is discovered by W, then W might be able to make a case. But I suspect that W, in making public her negotiation, has given some perspective to candidate #2 and/or #3.

I think W overplayed her hand (perhaps there is a lot of bad advice being given to candidates on how to go about negotiating an offer?). An offer is not a guarantee or a signed contract, and once negotiations open for any job (academic or not), either party can walk away. Nazareth has to lookout for its own interests, too.

Anonymous said...

Unless one happens to be an academic star, very few people get the requested exceptions to academic policy, with exception of maternity leave (which could land them in legal trouble--they should have explicitly excluded the maternity leave request in their withdrawal). The administration is looking at someone interested in reducing her teaching load to do research. In the absence of 1-5, W could be taken to be indifferent to the offer; with their addition, W would still be deciding whether to accept.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the university on this one.

"1) An increase of my starting salary to $65,000, which is more in line with what assistant professors in philosophy have been getting in the last few years."

Is this what professors that *that institution* have been getting in the past few years? Because that's what matters most. If she wants to be paid more than everyone else getting hired there, she needs to demonstrate why she is that much more valuable than other new colleagues at that institution.

"2) An official semester of maternity leave."

This is reasonable, and may even be legally required. However, this gets buried in unreasonable demands.

"3) A pre-tenure sabbatical at some point during the bottom half of my tenure clock."

Again, do all new hires get this kind of leave? If not, see #1.

"4) No more than three new class preps per year for the first three years."

This is something that can be reasonable negotiated, but without knowing what she was hired to do, it's a tough call. If she was hired to explicitly teach in multiple areas, then it's an unreasonable request.

"5) A start date of academic year 2015 so I can complete my postdoc."

Nope. If you want to finish your post-doc, that's fine. But you don't get to hold up that university's need for a new faculty member so you can not teach (and presumably go back on the market again). They have a need for the following year; if you can't satisfy that need, then you shouldn't be hired for the job. That alone is reason enough to offer it to someone else.

She was offered the job, and told them: I need more money, a research leave (that, presumably, others won't be getting, else it would be part of her contract already), and a year off before I start. Nope. If I'm on that hiring committee, I pull the offer too.

Anonymous said...

I would think that the post-doc request would be tough for my small schools to accommodate. Obviously, they could have said no to this and still upheld the offer. But this does stand as an example of knowing the difference between negotiating with a research school and with a small teaching school.

Anonymous said...

A relevant piece of data:

Nazareth is a 4/4 in sections, but not in preps. The ceiling for preps seems to be 3/3.

ScaryStoryBro said...

I speak from the perspective of having a good deal of experience outside of academic hiring (i.e. in the "real world"). The college's recession was unprofessional and immoral.

I concede that the candidate could have put things SLIGHTLY more delicately. It would have been better had he/she said something like "These are some possible options that I'd like to consider, and I'd be grateful for any flexibility you have." Tone is important in these matters.

Still, it's very hard for me to believe that the college would retract the offer. Do you really want to hire someone not wise enough to try to negotiate him/herself into a better position? Probably not

The candidate might want to consult with a labor attorney, as there are regulations intended to protect workers from these sorts of excesses.

Anonymous said...

"I think W should consult an attorney. It is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that the real reason the offer was rescinded was the request for maternity leave."

Too bad she buried that request in a list of other demands, then. Because now she has no way of proving that maternity leave was the reason. Not dealing with that separately was a bad move on her part.

"I'm not a lawyer"

Not the most comforting opening when providing legal advice.

Anonymous said...

I've been on many hiring committees, quite a few of which I've chaired. I have negotiated with candidates and have been able to provide a variety of sweeteners, including substantial salary increases, deferred starting dates, teaching releases, increased start-up funding, and helping to arrange academic work, at my institution, for spouses. But I've never read a negotiating letter that was quite so blunt: judging by this email alone, the candidate comes across as extremely entitled and as a potential perennial worry. It's more a matter of tone than content: each of the individual asks is reasonable enough, especially maternity leave (which would be mandated by law in any sane jurisdiction). But what is, in fact, a list of requests comes across like a list of demands. There are ways of presenting exactly the same list, with an entirely different effect. For example, about salary, one might write: "I wonder if there's any wiggle room regarding salary. I've done a little research, and my impression is that standard entry-level salaries in Philosophy are more like $65K. I appreciate, of course, that Nazareth College has its own salary structure, and that a reasonable degree of equity among entry level faculty is important for morale across the College. But I would truly appreciate it this something that might be considered."

Anonymous said...

[Summarizing Anon 12:32 PM:]

"I've been on many hiring committees and I expect people to kiss my ass more in formulating their requests"

lowly grad student said...

Forgive the naiveté, but I was under the impression that it is fairly common for new hires to ask the chair or someone on the search committee for advice about what kinds of sweeteners are or are not possible. I don't mean to derail the thread, but is this an uncommon practice?

Oh, btw, I hope W lands a better job after the post-doc!

Anonymous said...

No one should be referring to the items on W's e-mail as "Demands". This is because W was clearly not demanding such an offer, but inquiring about the possibility of such an offer.

People who think that W should not have attempted to negotiate preferable terms are right in one narrow sense: in this instance, it resulted in the loss of an offer. But that is, rightfully, a very unusual reaction to an inquiry about the flexibility of terms.

If Nazareth inferred that W would go on the market before taking up the position, (assuming they were granted the deferral for the post-doc), that seems absurd. Finishing the post-doc before starting a high-teaching load job would be appealing, even to someone who is certain that they would take the job, and happily be a member of the Nazareth community for their entire career. It is eminently reasonable for W to ask whether that is a possibility.

So much of the trajectory of your salary and other terms of employment is established when you accept your first job. To have norms in place which dissuade candidates from inquiring about better terms than they are initially offered is extremely harmful to incoming faculty.

Anonymous said...

other relevant data, the first two from perusing the Nazareth website:

A) professors at Nazareth routinely apply for and get course reductions for research

B) 4 of the 7 or 8 courses you teach each year are the same because of their curriculum

C) asking for something doesn't mean you expect to get it, as W made plain at the end of her email

A+B combine to make asking for a limitation on 3 new preps per year relatively easy to grant, and even if not, it's certainly not crazy or unreasonable to negotiate over.

I think asking for a junior leave and a one-year deferral has to be seen in the context of C and to some extent A. I doubt she expected the deferral -- most places don't grant one -- and asking for a junior leave isn't totally crazy if there's already a policy of granting course reductions for research.

I'm just not sure about maternity leave. It certainly doesn't seem weird to ask for. It's very common for professors. And legally you have to at least grant 6 weeks of unpaid leave after birth (and what if you're due at the beginning of a semester?). But I couldn't find out much on their website about their policies.

In any case, even if these were "demands" and from which it was reasonable to infer that W would be "uninterested" if they were not met (despite what she says), it seems unlikely that it wouldn't be worth speaking with her further. Instead they simply withdrew the offer and apparently (?) refused to speak more about it.

Even if you don't want to grant negotiation terms, a more courteous, professional, and informative way to handle it is...to simply not grant them. For all we know W would have taken the job even if all five requests were rejected, and been perfectly happy to stay there through tenure and beyond. And if she wasn't, she could have turned down the job then. If there were concerns about timing, they could have explained themselves and asked for a response within 24 or 48 hours.

What Nazareth in fact did seems unwise, and, from the perspective of a candidate in a tough market, somewhere between rude and reprehensible.

Finally, I am skeptical of the commenters here who claim to be able to infer something from/about the tone... but I suppose the mere fact that so many people do so, counts as evidence that one should be more careful about tone in negotations than I would be inclined to be.

Anonymous said...

Hello 11:50 AM:

You end by saying If I'm on that hiring committee, I pull the offer too.

I'm curious. Why wouldn't you ask the candidate if they still wanted to come if all of their requests were denied? (This is genuine curiosity, not snark.)

My initial reaction to W's case was that the university was punishing her and setting an example for others. But I'm starting to see the other side of this.

So would pulling the offer be followed by a conversation about with W about whether she's really interested in the position, or does the complete list of requests, or the manner in which they're put, reveal enough to make you want to seek another person for the job?

Anonymous said...

I agree with some other commenters who don't think it was unreasonable to ask (how could it be unreasonable to ask for things that many people actually get?), but that the overall tone seemed a bit misguided. The requests weren't demands, but as a package they did start to sound like a list of demands.
It was probably a miscommunication. Quite possible W really did want to teach at Nazarene and would have been perfectly happy there, just wanting not to "leave anything on the table," as they say. If it had been me, I wouldn't have withdrawn the offer. But it's not all that surprising that the actual decision-makers did.

Anonymous said...

I'm completely floored by the commenters siding with Nazareth. The actions of the university seem both immoral and contrary to their own self-interest.

The actions seem immoral because they, (a) violate a promise, and (b) are cruel. (I'm sure we could come up with lots of other reasons.) Everybody knows how hard it is to get a job offer. To withdraw one due to a *request for information* seems straightforwardly cruel. I understand that some object to the candidate's tone. I don't find it at all objectionable. (I'm sympathetic with 12:49's comment.) However, it seems obviously cruel to rescind an offer due to the tone of an e-mail.

The actions seem contrary to the self-interest of the university because they (a) hurt the university's reputation and, (b) prevent the university from hiring the candidate that they judged--based on almost all of their evidence--was the best. The undermining evidence was this e-mail, which seems flimsy at best. Tone in e-mail is very hard to judge. There are myriad (more likely) explanations for the content of the e-mail besides that the candidate is ill-suited for employment at Nazareth.

Some decent news for the candidate. Nazareth is likely a horrible place to work, given their actions here. The candidate may have dodged a bullet.

Anonymous said...

I too am amazed how many commenters are with the university. I've been on several search committees, and this is a really wrong response to requests. The applicant asked for information to assist W's decision. The correct answer is to reply, if one cannot accommodate any of them, "We must reply in the negative to all of these requests. Knowing that, do you agree to the position?" If W then agreed, then they agree, and the college has the candidate they wanted.

Identifying with administrators of punishment for asking if these requests can be met is not understandable to me.

Anonymous said...

We discussed this a bit at Phil Anonymous. A summation: a) this isn't all that unusual (I was at a relative well-respect uni that discussed doing the same thing and b) it is not at all illegal. By negotiating you are changing your terms and regardless a contract offer is not a signed contract.

Nonetheless, I find it distasteful and argued against doing so myself. But it ain't illegal. By the way the previous experience I'm privy to was for the same reasons: the requests made it seem like the person didn't care about teaching, only about research. This person wasn't a female, so I suspect it's not a gender thing, though who knows. That said, these are negotiations! You should be asking for whatever you can because you don't get many opportunities to negotiate

Anonymous said...

If the offer letter gave a start date, and it should have, then the *real* issue could have been staffing for the year she wanted to start.

If you want a TT job, then take it. If you want to finish a second year of a post doc, then fine. Good luck on the job market next year. We can't wait.

As for the other "requests" I suggest that ALL candidates talk to the chair of the department about what is normal for the university. I would bet the pay request was quite high. At my university, which has a union and a faculty minimum salary at each rank, the starting salary next year for Assistant Professors will be 56K. As an associate professor, I make 68K. So, 65 seems a lot for a small college. And I have a 3/3 teaching load, which is nice.

And sabbaticals are a benefit that are offered to people who have tenure, generally. So it might have seemed a bit odd for her to request one at that institution. Know the culture of where you have applied when asking for things. There might have been people on the committee who waited 10 plus years for a sabbatical. I know I waited 8 for my sabbatical.

So, I can't start when you need me, I want more money than you are offering (and more than most other probably make at my rank), and I want a sabbatical after a few years all equal to my mind a candidate who doesn't know what kind of job they have been offered. And they probably won't like it.

Let's move on to the next candidate. It is a buyer's market.

Anonymous said...

I did a search for sabbatical in the google box at Naz.edu

Here is the letter from the president explaining how sabbaticals work:

http://www.naz.edu/academic-affairs/documents/2013%20Sabbatical%20Memo.pdf

Like I suspected, they are competitive and you have to be there for at least 7 years.

Candidates need to know this kind of stuff. A research leave at an R1 to help you get some publications for tenure is easier to do because they generally only teach two classes a semester and one of those could be filled by a grad student. It's really a loss of one class. At N, it would be a loss of 4 classes. Totally different.

Anonymous said...

Their policy for maternity leave:
http://www.naz.edu/human-resources/documents/benefits/fmla.pdf

Which is standard and the same as the university I teach at. Giving a paid semester in addition seems a bit much to ask. Unpaid is a different story.

Anonymous said...

If you want a TT job, then take it. If you want to finish a second year of a post doc, then fine. Good luck on the job market next year. We can't wait.

Okay, but they could have told her that. Instead, they just withdrew the offer. That's what's so stunning.

I assume you know that lots of places will give you the post doc year if you ask. (There's at least one person reported on Leiter who is clearly doing that in the coming year.) So it's not an unreasonable thing to ask.

Anonymous said...

Observations and lessons:

1. Judging from the comments, most philosophers know absolutely nothing about negotiation, neither why or how one would engage in it. Sensible, I guess, since they don't have many opportunities to.

2. W actually did it quite well, perhaps from experience in another profession, perhaps under advisement from someone negotiation savvy. (The fact that some items were implausible to ask for is irrelevant and normal.)

3. Nazareth had no idea what to do with it.

4. Ironically, given (1), and as we see from Nazareth's behavior, negotiating correctly can really work against you.

Conclusion: apparently philosophers getting job offers can't assume that the people giving them offers are rational actors. (Or moral ones.)

This is really awful.

*Many* professions are buyer's markets right now. This does not make it a good idea to throw away one's top candidate on what is essentially a whim.

I hope everyone justifying Nazareth's actions by saying "buyer's market" have some sort of alternate career plans, in a profession where you the normal practices don't guarantee that you will be treated like dirt. Which is most other professions, by the way. Even the others that are also buyer's markets.

(Also, I detect a whiff of sexism at the eagerness of people to read W's email as being problematic in tone. But maybe not -- maybe philosophers really are just completely ignorant about negotiations.)

Anonymous said...

Some decent news for the candidate. Nazareth is likely a horrible place to work, given their actions here. The candidate may have dodged a bullet.

The flip side is that Nazareth now can make offers confidently knowing that people won't negotiate out of fear the offer will be pulled. That's a big advantage to their institution in what is already a buyer's market.

The sad fact is that so many people feel lucky just to have a job. Nazareth seems to be leveraging that sad fact to their benefit. Now, it may be that the atmosphere there will be toxic, so it's an open question just how real the benefit actually is. But if I'm a typical bottom-line minded Dean, I'm encouraging the department to make these kinds of dick moves.

Anonymous said...

You asked whether X was possible. X is not possible for us to accommodate, so we will summarily remove your opportunity to accept the original offer.

Anonymous said...

Just to point to the salary request: according to CHE, in 2012

- the avg assoc professor made 69k
- the avg asst professor made 56k

(Assuming the likelihood that Naz profs have had no/little raises in two years), asking for 65k was so unrealistic in this context that I don't doubt that it sent a very bad signal. If the avg asst made 56, and I can assure you that phil professors will be on the lower end of this, that means that the avg start is likely in the low to mid 50s. The applicant was asking for a 20%+ raise into the lower pay ranks of tenured professors at Naz. This likely would have meant serious leapfrogging over current colleagues in the job for years.

Whoever advised the candidate to ask for this should not be in an advisory role.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a SLAC, and if I were on the SC I would have supported rescinding the offer, based on the evidence presented in the post.

Many commenters have expressed outrage at a gesture they interpret as capricious, immoral, and cruel. I definitely understand the emotional devastation of losing a TT job, and I don’t mean to minimize that anguish, but I doubt the committee’s decision was any of these things.

On its face, the candidate’s list of provisions suggests a perspective contrary to that of many SLACs. Starting salaries are of course often negotiated, but if the candidate presents 65K as a norm when Nazareth’s own peer group operates on a far lower scale (as my own SLAC does), this conveys a severe mismatch of expectations. Institutions don’t generally assess their salaries according to any national norm of “what people have been getting”; they are tied to things like type of institution, regional peer groups, public v. private, etc. It would be interesting to know where Nazareth’s offer came in, and how much more $$ the candidate was seeking. As a previous poster alluded, I wonder if 65K was far above the initial offer.

Other requests seem to reinforce the impression of a mismatch. A pre-tenure sabbatical is more the province of R1s than SLACs, and an SC might think asking for one suggests you’re more focused on personal research than their teaching and students. Similarly, class assignments are driven by departmental and service needs, and many SLAC faculty/department chairs would chafe at being asked to accommodate a new colleague’s desire for only three preps (which further betrays an R1 mindset and suggests you won’t be happy in a SLAC environment).

As for delaying employment until 2015 -- if I’m in that department, the message I hear yet again is that the candidate cares more about her research than the immediate needs of our teaching and students. A secondary message is that the candidate wants wiggle room for a better offer next year.

Taken together, these issues present enough doubt about the candidate’s suitability to merit the offer withdrawal. Presumably the candidate displayed terrific academic and personal qualifications to merit the offer in the first place. It's extremely unfortunate to subsequently take a drastic step like this, but the department doesn’t want her to arrive and then be chronically unhappy because it's not an R1. Hiring a colleague is a major investment, and they need to be confident in the future of that investment.

Anonymous said...

The ethics of the college's rescinding its offer aside or the wisdom of W's negotiating as she did, I'm a bit puzzled about the absence of any outcry in this thread about sharing "private emails" and outing the institution in question. If this had happened on Leiter's blog, I suspect this thread would look more like this one.

Michael Cholbi said...

As I think Nazareth's withdrawal of the offer is indefensible, I won't defend it. But the whole state of affairs underscores the need for faculty at R1's to have a much better sense of the realities of academic life: Assuming W was getting advice from her faculty advisor(s), then the advisor has a seriously distorted picture of the academic scene. Many of the incentives W sought just aren't available at the overwhelming majority of institutions. W acts like she's negotiating with, say, Princeton rather than Nazareth. And I would surmise that W's sense of what's realistic is distorted by being a grad student at an R1 where such incentives might at least be more realistic. I really wish that those charged with graduate education in our field had a better sense of the institutions to which their students are applying.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a place like Nazareth-- a small department with a heavy teaching load.

I think the first comment gets it pretty much right. What I would add to that comment is that in all likelihood none of the other members of the department received all these things. So requesting all of them might be taken as a sign that W wants to be treated differently than everyone else, and at everyone else's expense (since, as mentioned, they will be the ones picking up the slack). Not exactly something you want in a new colleague. You're telling somebody who's put in a full 7 or 8 years for a sabbatical that you want one in your first 2 or 3 years? Part of me is happy they turned her down. Maybe it will set a precedent for others not to act like entitled jerks.

My guess is that someone at W's university gave her some bad advice. People at research universities generally don't understand how other universities operate. Not everyone thinks on a whatever-advances-my-own-career model, and if you do think that way, you had better hide it when you go visit one of the other places.

Anonymous said...

3:51, actually, it is not uncommon for starting assistant professors to be at around the salary of associate professors, especially at a somewhat ambitious college. You can go look at salaries at some public university and you'll find that this is so. Probably this candidate wasn't going to get $65k, but asking for it wasn't outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Very Christian of them.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the SLAC I attended as an undergrad did have pre-tenure sabbatical, but I'm not sure how common that is.

Anonymous said...

As for delaying employment until 2015 -- if I’m in that department, the message I hear yet again is that the candidate cares more about her research than the immediate needs of our teaching and students.

Oh, come on, that's preposterous. You mean, if you were offered a year of paid leave, you would say, "No, thanks, I can't do that because I care too much about the immediate teaching needs of our department"?

Anonymous said...

4:56

This is 3:51. Sure, if you are in business, or in engineering, or architecture, or something similar, you can start as an asst above the average for an associate. Happens all the time (and adds to the bad blood between Arts and Sciences and professional school faculty). However, you are not going to get a philosophy professor coming in from graduate school at above the average for an associate professor at that college - even if the school is ambitious. This is especially the case at a college with a 4/4 load.

Not. Going. To. Happen. Period.

As I said, W's advisor needs to get out and see the world a bit before giving out more advice.

Anonymous said...

4:56 - like many colleges, Nazareth began religiously affiliated, but is no longer.

Anonymous said...

11:50 here again:

"You end by saying If I'm on that hiring committee, I pull the offer too.

I'm curious. Why wouldn't you ask the candidate if they still wanted to come if all of their requests were denied? (This is genuine curiosity, not snark.)"

Partly because, presumably, I don't have to. At the end of a job search you are generally left with a small group of highly qualified applicants. As commenters here love pointing out, there are always multiple qualified applicants. Unless the other finalists were judged to be unacceptable, the rest of the short list is worth hiring. But in the event I wanted this candidate in particular, and was willing to negotiate, many of these requests seem (as others have noted) unacceptable. The most important one is the final one: you want the job, you walk away from the post-doc. Maybe she would. We don't know. But she doesn't want to. If I agree to negotiate, I drag out the process. This could take weeks, and we still might pull the offer. In that time, we may lose the other applicants we want. If I'm at a small school with immediate needs, I'm not going to risk losing the line by not filling it. Had she asked for 1 or 2 things, maybe we could talk. But a list of 4 items for negotiating (I'm assuming that maternity leave would be granted) is a bit much, when there are others I could hire. Maybe I have to negotiate with them, too. But maybe not.

"My initial reaction to W's case was that the university was punishing her and setting an example for others. But I'm starting to see the other side of this."

Not hiring someone is not punishment. It's just not hiring her. The university's primary goal here is to fill a line. If one of the items on her list of requests is not teaching next year when, presumably, they have classes ready to run and that need to be filled, then they should move on. (Think of any other job scenario. In what other field is it reasonable to be hired for a job and ask for a year off before you show up to work? How is that in any way reasonable? There is a job to do. She's being hired to do it. Her last request made it clear that, given a choice, she would prefer not to do that job next year.)

"So would pulling the offer be followed by a conversation about with W about whether she's really interested in the position, or does the complete list of requests, or the manner in which they're put, reveal enough to make you want to seek another person for the job?"

There's a short list. I see no reason to go to the short list. She was the first choice, but by no means would she be the only option.

Anonymous said...

In the interest of increasing sample size by 1, I just wanted to repeat a couple of things that have already been said above:

1. I believe that what Nazareth did was massively wrong. (And for all the people above who say 'Oh, W and/or her advisors need to understand what Nazareth is like,' I think Nazareth as just as much if not more responsibility to understand the situation W is coming from: presumably, the Nazareth folks were all at a research institution at least for their PhDs... they should be the wise and experienced ones. Expecting someone just out of grad school to 'get' the SLAC ethos is an unfair expectation.)

2. I have taught at both a research university and at a SLAC (where I am currently). I agree with the other comments above that the list, taken together, would suggest that the candidate really doesn't understand the culture of the place, and that we have a mismatch of expectations and reality. So for other candidates who are not placed in this extreme position (i.e. going back to Spiros's original question): even if Nazareth had done the minimally decent thing and said 'We can't meet any of 1-5; do you still want to come?', W's colleagues might still regard her more negatively ("She can't be serious about teaching if she wants 1-5") -- even if there is no basis in fact for that negative appraisal.

Anonymous said...

4:56,

I believe they are not religiously affiliated anymore. Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you need to include the "P" in this particular PFO.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that W is an "entitled jerk"-- just that those demands are the demands of one. Whoever told her to make those demands is at fault here, not her. I wish her only the best.

Anonymous said...

"1. Judging from the comments, most philosophers know absolutely nothing about negotiation, neither why or how one would engage in it. Sensible, I guess, since they don't have many opportunities to."

You are correct, but not for the reasons you suspect.

I left one of the early comments defending Nazareth based on my own experience hiring and negotiating my own employment contracts inside and outside academia. W's tactics outside of academia likely would not have netted her as courteous note of rescindment from a non-academic employer, both on account of its unreasonableness and manifest ignorance of Nazareth's hiring and employment policies.

W's (and perhaps her advisor's) approach actually does underscore your point: philosophers do seem, on the whole, pretty inept at negotiating. Unsurprising, since most of them spend their whole careers in academia.

zombie said...

FWIW, according to , the average asst prof salary at Nazareth is $58K, so $65K was aiming a bit high.

Still, I find it rather chilling that the college just refused to neogotiate at all. I suppose they might have interpreted the requests, taken as a whole, as showing that the candidate was either out of touch with their needs or displaying a sense of entitlement. (I don't get either of those from the email -- W explicitly asked them to consider granting "some" of her requests.) (And I agree that whomever advised W that these requests might actually be granted by a SLAC was misguided -- still, we are all told that it can't hurt to *ask*.)

The immediate rescinding of the offer, without any attempt to negotiate, or even to say "sorry, we can't do any of that," evinces a rather snippy sense of entitlement on the part of the college, IYAM. Even in a buyer's market, the buyers don't HAVE to be bastards.

Anonymous said...

435 is a perfect example of someone who clearly just does not understand how negotiations work. I have known many academics who have gone through the negotiation process (though none in philosophy) and it is absolutely normal to ask for more (sometimes far more) than the university is willing to give. The fact that some faculty didn't do this just speaks to their ignorance of how this works. When I was offered my current position I was able to negotiate for a rather large increase in salary (at my SLAC). I am paid more than anyone else in my position (and am paid as much as others who have been here for nearly a decade).

I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am not as well-published as many of my colleagues but many of them failed to negotiate (at all) and they lost out. This wasn't just a short term gain for me either, salary increases are indexed to current salaries so because they did not negotiate they lose out on quite a bit. Nazareth is the problem here not negotiation (or even the tone of W's e-mail).

zombie said...

Aforementioned missing link: http://faculty-salaries.findthebest.com/l/8359/Nazareth-College

Anonymous said...

If I agree to negotiate, I drag out the process. This could take weeks, and we still might pull the offer.

I can't believe I have to explain this, but I guess I do. You could say, "No, sorry, we can't do any of those things." That doesn't extend the deadline, it doesn't make you wait for weeks, it doesn't have to drag anything else.
This is really, really obvious.


Think of any other job scenario. In what other field is it reasonable to be hired for a job and ask for a year off before you show up to work? How is that in any way reasonable?

What possible difference could it make how reasonable it is in some *other* field? I wonder if Brian Cashman told Robinson Cano that it was unreasonable for him to ask for more than $20 million/year because nobody gets that in other lines of work.

Many colleges and universities will give the candidate a year to take advantage of a really good fellowship before starting work. It happens a lot. I could list some examples, but it's better to keep particular people out of these threads, in my opinion. But look on the Leiter hiring thread.
Since many do it, it's obviously not unreasonable to ask for it.

Anyway, I certainly agree with the common sentiment here that candidates are going to have to be aware of the possibility that a hiring committee might have what Zombie aptly calls a snippy sense of entitlement. What? Fellowship year? NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Anonymous said...

Hey SLAC-ers, please cut the pious bullshit about the candidate caring too much about her research agenda. @ 4:05 complains that her requests show she's "more focused on personal research than their teaching and students."

Guess how she got the interviews and job offer to begin with - no doubt in part by having a sufficiently impressive combination of research pedigree and publications.

Those of us who have prioritized teaching over research and focused on doing 'the job' are stuck in adjunct hell and can barely get interviews, much less job offers.

You don't get to set up a system of incentives that places a premium on research at the level of candidate selection (and tenure!), then 'tsk-tsk' the chosen candidate who has successfully internalized those professional norms.

Anonymous said...

I just want to second 6:10's basic point.
In my case, I was unable to negotiate until I had something to negotiate with (that is, a competing offer). But then I did ask, and I got, and in fact I now think I should have asked for more (because the dean gave in very quickly).

And as 6:10 says, even a few thousand dollars per year is going to add up to a whole lot of money over your career, and (though this is a slight oversimplification) the extra salary you get at 30 is going to increase by the same percentage your salary increases, and you'll be working for 40 years.

Do it. I mean, as the sage says, maybe have a little chat with the chair first so you don't step on anybody's toes, as apparently this wannabe Nazarene did, but negotiate for the money. It's not bad manners and it's going to matter.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate this happened.

BUT.

EVERYONE needs to understand:

Anytime you make a counter-offer, it is as if you have (legally) rejected the offer on the table and that offer can be pulled.

That's just how it works.

Furthermore, whoever W is, they are completely clueless about things. They did the right thing in negotiating, and they negotiated properly (firmly and confidently), but they were COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY clueless about their requests.

65K? You're kidding right? There are people who start at R1s or far more elite SLACs than Nazareth and who might not even get 60K. And pre-tenure sabbatical? Again, simply looking through the Handbook would have revealed the audacity of that request.

Those two are HUGE, and I think all of them combined together painted a picture of a candidate who was going not to fit in at Nazareth. That's first--what's second is that I suspect the SC probably had many of these suspicions ALREADY, PRIOR to making their offer and so this just confirmed it.

Finally, it is obvious that Nazareth did W a favor. W would not have been happy there and it is not the place for W.

Time to move on. Best of luck to W (that's not facetious, but serious -- this sucks, but in the long run it will be better for W).

Anonymous said...

"I can't believe I have to explain this, but I guess I do. You could say, "No, sorry, we can't do any of those things." That doesn't extend the deadline, it doesn't make you wait for weeks, it doesn't have to drag anything else. This is really, really obvious."

I can't believe I have to explain this, but I guess I do. The department is under no obligation to negotiate. None. Zero. Losing the offer is a risk when you try to negotiate. This is really, really obvious.

"What possible difference could it make how reasonable it is in some *other* field?"

Because this is a job, not a classroom exercise. This is how job offers work.

"I wonder if Brian Cashman told Robinson Cano that it was unreasonable for him to ask for more than $20 million/year because nobody gets that in other lines of work."

No, he didn't. But then again, the hiring department didn't say that to the applicant, either. (I was providing another way to think about the issue. A better analogy would be if Cano asked the Yankees to provide something that MLB players don't normally get, like the month of July off, etc. Both W and Robinson Cano were told to find work elsewhere. And, lest we forget, W *has* a job already. She's on a post-doc.

"Many colleges and universities will give the candidate a year to take advantage of a really good fellowship before starting work. It happens a lot."

Right, but many don't. It's denied often.

"Since many do it, it's obviously not unreasonable to ask for it."

No one of those requests are terribly over the top (except maybe the salary, as it's so out of line with the university's own pay scale). But listing them all together is a bit much. Yes, some schools allow a year to finish a post-doc. Some give higher salaries. Some allow for an additional sabbatical opportunity. Some guarantee a low number of preps. The question here is not, can we find a school that will grant one of her requests, but can we find a school that will grant them all? And is that school one with a 4/4 teaching load?

"Anyway, I certainly agree with the common sentiment here that candidates are going to have to be aware of the possibility that a hiring committee might have what Zombie aptly calls a snippy sense of entitlement. What? Fellowship year? NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

This is not a snippy sense of entitlement on the part of the hiring committee. The committee offered a job, the applicant asked to change the terms of the contract, and the department pulled the offer. This isn't entitlement. This is a completely reasonable result of asking to change the terms of the contract.

Anonymous said...

I've worked at a community college, a Big Ten U, a medium-sized state U, and a SLAC. None of them were wealthy or odd. All of them hired someone who requested deferring a year for a post-doc. Post-docs are increasingly common. If your top choice is also successful at garnering a post-doc, this is ultimately going to benefit the college, as every employer I've had realizes. It is simply not the case that deferring for a year is an outrageous request, and a school respectably ranked in The Princeton Review and the WashMo, as Naz is, knows or should know that.

Anonymous said...

I work at a SLAC, I'm on a hiring committee right now, and there's basically no daylight between a pretty long list of amazingly qualified people at the top of our list. More than we can interview, for sure. I'm sure any of them could do the job extremely well. And the background here is a lot like many other SLACs in particular: we're a small department so we have to divvy up teaching responsibilities as best we can, none of us are making a heck of a lot of money, and faculty lines are very competitive with no guarantee for replacement if lost.

So what do we want? A sharp philosopher with promise, yes. But that's not really a worry. Basically the top half of our large applicant pool qualifies. So what else? Mostly, we're trying to divine as best we can who really is excited to be here, who buys into the mission of the place, and who will make a good colleague ror (hopefully) a long, long time.

What Nazareth did here was highly unusual. But I can't say I blame them. You get a sniff of something that sets an alarm off, why not cut bait? Yeah, the fish may be /rightthere/, but the ocean is freaking teeming. Maybe this one would be fine, but if something seems a little off, better to go with the next one who looked EVERY BIT as good. And there's many more down the line.

This is the market we are in. I've been in my job for a number of years now, and I think I've done well. But I don't for a second forget that it very easily could've been someone else, who would've been every bit as good, maybe better.

You negotiate when you have some leverage. An offer is not leverage.

Anonymous said...

"You don't get to set up a system of incentives that places a premium on research at the level of candidate selection (and tenure!), then 'tsk-tsk' the chosen candidate who has successfully internalized those professional norms."

I agree if the "system of incentives" is fair. However, the system of incentives is unfair, and is based on the deception that "...the enormous price in time and income forgone it takes to get the degree" will not only provide "...access to the resources of scholarship and to the networks of scholars that circulate their work around the world..." but will lead to employment as a professional research scholar. The promise is held out indefinitely, and withdrawn, again and again--in this case explicitly..

Anonymous said...

11:50

I'm coming in late, but wow is that ever ignorant.

I was a candidate *just like* W, I asked for very much of the same things (more, in fact), and still go the job.

My counter salary was 12k higher than their offer (and I gave reasons), I asked for a pre-tenure sabbatical, a course release, extra research money, more moving funds, teaching reduction, tenure clock reduction, and a year to do a postdoc…

However, I had the fortune (perhaps many) in being able to do this over the phone, so it didn't come across as a list of demands. It was a conversation, and I was able to justify my requests and engage in give-and-take.

Anonymous said...

"You don't get to set up a system of incentives that places a premium on research at the level of candidate selection (and tenure!), then 'tsk-tsk' the chosen candidate who has successfully internalized those professional norms."

We don't know if this is what happened. Without W's CV, we won't know.

"Guess how she got the interviews and job offer to begin with - no doubt in part by having a sufficiently impressive combination of research pedigree and publications."

Sure, but how big a part did it play? We don't know. It was, of course, "sufficiently impressive," which for all we know could mean "minimally qualified, given the strength of the rest of the application."

Eliza said...

My understanding is that *any* negotiation can be interpreted as declining the offer that was made, and therefore legally, the college does not have to "withdraw" the offer (even though Nazareth presents themselves as having done so); they can view it as having been declined and move on to another candidate.

I also think it is immoral for colleges to operate that way, since of course when we negotiate we're not declining an offer. And we are the vulnerable party.

The advice I've gotten, in situations where there's any reason to think an offer might be pulled, is to never negotiate in writing. You negotiate over the phone (aiming for the sweet spot between being enthusiastic about the job -- you want them to still want you -- and asserting your own needs). Then when that's done, you get the agreement in writing. That lets you feel out some things and get feedback on what's doable or not, and on how the requests are being taken.

I think it's really helpful and humane when universities have a structure whereby the Chair of the department is effectively the candidate's ally in the negotiation with the Dean. But not every university does it that way. Sometimes (at smaller schools) it's a fixed pool at the department level, so you're negotiating with the Chair, who has an interest in limiting what you get; other times the Chair just stays out of it.

I was very lucky: I had a really great Chair. She told me that I was very unlikely to get a salary increase but that there was room to move the start-up. I asked for both anyway, and sure enough, was denied a salary increase but got significantly higher start-up (which I can use for summer salary). The kicker? The Chair spotted something I never would have thought of, which qualified me for thousands of dollars extra. That's what can happen when the Chair is your advocate and is paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Naz made exactly the right call. After determining on the basis of her requests, quite reasonably, that W was not the candidate for them, they would only have been wasting W's time with further negotiations or a politically correct chain of PFO emails. They wisely decided not to waste their time or W's.

I can't even get into the headspace of those who think Naz is acting immorally or indefensibly. I suspect that attitude comes from the same overinflated sense of self worth and entitlement W's requests had. I would recommend getting over yourselves, but then again, keeping your attitude only serves to open up the job market for more sober minds.

So, please, continue to trash your prospects for me!

Anonymous said...

Several things are irritating about the defenders of W. Just because there are some Leiter posts about people getting an extra year for a post doc doesn't translate to this case.

I went and looked. There are three cases of post docs getting the year before they start. They all happen to be women. But one of them is the University of Penn. A big department that can absorb the loss for a year. The other two are at small sounding schools. I looked them up. One has 14 full time faculty and several adjuncts. The other has 9 full time faculty and 6 adjuncts.

Those situations are far and away different than the case at N where they have only 4 faculty members.

And to the person who said that philosophers don't know how to negotiate. Perhaps they are right. But the Dean and VPAA (vice president of academic affairs or Provost) do these sorts of things all the time. They more than likely know what they are doing in this regard. Don't make me defend administrators more than that!! Please!!

Finally, you all don't know how the vote went down in the department. Perhaps W was a close call. Perhaps she was picked by the dean over the wishes of the department and when the additional requests came in, the dean then relented. (I was the dean's call in my department as a tie breaker. So this does happen.) There is so much we don't know.

But what everyone should pay attention to is WHAT kind of school they are getting an offer from. Look at the faculty hand book and go to the benefits page to see what is standard. As for stuff that is reasonable and not pie in the sky crazy talk. Which is exactly what W did.

Eliza said...

p.s. I should've also said that I find this INFURIATING because women are told over and over and over again that we have to negotiate aggressively because -- and this is true! -- we get paid less than men because we don't.

And so this poor woman followed the advice that we are always, always given. She got punished for it in the worst possible way (in the context of possible negotiation outcomes). And now many people on this thread are saying it's her fault.

Anonymous said...

I think it was stunning/shocking that Nazareth rescinded the offer without even a "no, we can't do any of that."

However, I think the demands were a bit crazy for the most part, especially all at once over e-mail like that. The salary request was WAY too much for a school like that and shows ignorance and selfishness (she thinks she is worth more than all of the other faculty there). Things like the pre-tenure sabbatical are probably unheard of, and rightfully set off alarm bells because if you're a 4/4 type of place then what is the use of a pre-tenure sabbatical if research is not an emphasis? The postdoc deferral I suppose was worth asking for but probably the hardest one to accommodate. And she should have realized how bad it would look (would she just apply for jobs again and jump ship before even starting?)

Maternity leave was worth asking for / asking about and the 3 new preps per year was VERY reasonable. I didn't ask for this at my 3/3 institution but the chair has said to me repeatedly that he will limit me to no more than one new prep per semester. I negotiated when I was on the market and got my modest (well under $65K) salary increased slightly, plus startup funds & space for research, etc. But I knew not to ask for things that would be out of line at my institution, such as a sabbatical that no one else gets, a reduced teaching load, a paid research assistant, etc. Even though my friends at R1s or elite SLACs got those things.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: those representing the College behaved badly, flouting the norms of civilized conduct in higher-ed hiring. They may not be alone in this, but that doesn't change the fact that they've displayed their institution in a contemptible light.

The correct response to the candidate's request would have been to matter-of-factly decline any requests they weren't prepared to meet. They could have even pointedly suggested to the candidate that she might be happier elsewhere. Or, more maturely, they could have given her the benefit of the doubt and explained what they needed/expected from the hire. But to abruptly revoke the offer like that is completely beyond the pale.

Yes, the candidate's request was clumsy, and yes, it showed that she didn't understand the local culture. But the culture she didn't understand was itself an outlier in the community of civilized institutions. Even with the job market being as horrendous as it is, it sounds like the candidate dodged a bullet.

Anonymous said...

I saw something very similar happen while serving on a search committee for another department at my home institution (another SLAC). The candidate gently asked for several deal-sweeteners -- some of which were very similar to those requested by W -- and the Provost rescinded the offer almost immediately. Internally, the reason given was that the candidate had demonstrated that he was a poor fit with the institution. The requests were indeed so far beyond what my institution could provide, it was a bit startling.

I don't know if this was the right call and my own reaction to W's situation is that Nazareth acted a bit harshly to say the least. Moreover, I thought W's message sounded perfectly cordial and I think there's nothing morally problematic about candidates negotiating.

That said, there's a lot of good advice about negotiating buried in the comments above. (Eliza's remarks were particularly good, I thought.) Approach the Chair for advice first. You should treat the Chair as your ally. Begin by gathering information and feeling out members of the search committee by phone. Keep in mind that having an offer is not leverage and if you don't have leverage (e.g. another job offer), most institutions will be a bit amused (at best) or put off (at worst) by your request for deal-sweeteners. Most importantly, try to appreciate the vast chasm that exists between diverse academic cultures. I suspect that graduate students and faculty members at PhD-granting institutions read W's email and think it sounded utterly reasonable. I'm at a SLAC that does offer a pre-tenure sabbatical and the teaching load is 2/3, but W's email made me wince. Again, I think it was perfectly polite. It just comes across as a bit … clueless. (I'm not happy with the last word but nothing more apt is coming to mind.)

Try to use the comments above as a practical tool. Even if you violently disagree with those sympathetic to Nazareth, take note that the sympathy appears to be sufficiently widespread and that those sympathetic all seem to be located at institutions with a similar profile to Nazareth. This is useful information to have when interviewing, interacting, and negotiating with schools who aren't R1s.

Best of luck to those hunting for jobs. I think it was probably unwise of W to permit this blog to post fragments of her email correspondence with Nazareth, but there's no doubt that thread like this will be very useful to future job candidates.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I have to explain this, but I guess I do. The department is under no obligation to negotiate. None. Zero. Losing the offer is a risk when you try to negotiate. This is really, really obvious.

That is not responsive to what I actually wrote. I didn’t claim that the department is under an obligation to negotiate.
You had written,

“If I agree to negotiate, I drag out the process. This could take weeks, and we still might pull the offer.”

I pointed out that there is no reason whatsoever that your response to the requests had to drag out the process. None whatsoever. Now in reply you say something non-responsive.

Similarly, I asked,


"What possible difference could it make how reasonable it is in some *other* field?"

Your reply is:

Because this is a job, not a classroom exercise. This is how job offers work.

Sorry – how does that make it relevant what is reasonable to ask for in another field? The way job offers work is not that employers hold candidates responsible for standards in other fields.

Anonymous said...

You get a sniff of something that sets an alarm off, why not cut bait?

I think it would be intriguing to go fishing with you some time.
Scary, but intriguing.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for W, but I've been on several search committees and I think Nazareth did exactly the right thing. I suspect everyone in that department, unanimously, thought the person would be a bad fit for their small, teaching-focused school.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a SLAC in a much more expensive area than Rochester, NY. I think this person's demands are a bit unreasonable.

1. At least I make about $20K less than $65,000!

2. Why does she need a pre-tenure sabbatical?? Naz doesn't have such rigorous publication requirements that this is needed.

3. Expressing an unwillingness to prep for more classes is unwise.

4. A small college can't wait for someone to start a year later.

I think this person asked for too much at once.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone,

For those of you who complain because you have no idea what "fit" means...here's your example.

This if fit. Get a good look at it. Because this is what SCs will be thinking.

SCs will be asking themselves "will this person be happy here?" If it's a small teaching college with little to no research support, they will ask, "will this person be happy in a job that doesn't focus on research?" If it's a school in the middle of nowhere, they will ask, "will this person be happy in this location?" Etc.

Whatever you think of W's audacity or Nazareth's refusal to negotiate is, ultimately, irrelevant. Because most of you are misreading the situation. This is not an example of the dangers of trying to negotiate. The university did not pull their offer because W attempted to negotiate.

This is what "fit" looks like, Nazareth decided that she wasn't a good fit, and opted to move on to (in their opinion) a candidate who "fit" better.

Most often, the decision to cut someone for "fit" comes earlier than this (often right at the start, if the application letter makes it clear that the applicant is applying for a position other than the one advertised, or just after the campus visit, after meeting the applicant in person). However, this is not out of line with standard SC operations. What stands out about this example is that the decision was made after the offer. That is, what makes this a unique case is the timing of the SCs decision, but not their deliberations or their decision.

Next year, when you are wondering about "fit," remember this case. Because here it is.

Anonymous said...

The salary request was WAY too much for a school like that and shows ignorance and selfishness (she thinks she is worth more than all of the other faculty there).

I wonder how people think they know things like this.
This page shows that assistant professor salaries at Boston College are *well* above what some people seem to think is ‘unrealistic’. $66K is the very bottom of the range. Admittedly BC probably has to pay higher salaries, being located in such an expensive place, but asking for $65K in the present environment is plainly not unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

Suppose one is Nazareth's next choice and gets made an offer. Does that person now have to worry about negotiating at all? Moreover, should that person be worried about having to go back on the market in a year or two due to an atmosphere she may not like?

Anonymous said...

"I should've also said that I find this INFURIATING because women are told over and over and over again that we have to negotiate aggressively because -- and this is true! -- we get paid less than men because we don't."

Aggressively? Yes. Imprudently, without tact or exhibiting familiarity with the institution's hiring and employment practices? No.

W was unreasonable with that conjunction of requests and provided little by way of offering secure return to Nazareth (telling Nazareth that fulfilling these unreasonable requests would make W's decision 'easier' was probably the biggest insult).

Negotiation is give and take -- W should have come back with a 'counteroffer', not a list of sweeteners that will only ease her decision. W sought to take much and give nothing. Nazareth saw this as evidence of W likely being a poor colleague and fit, and Nazareth took the opportunity to dodge a bullet. Probably the best for both parties involved.

Fortunately for W, it appears she has a postdoc through the next year. Perhaps she even has another job offer in hand. In any event, let's hope that W -- and those of us who think W was making reasonable requests -- learn how to be a bit smoother at negotiation. It's not just what you counteroffer, but also how you counteroffer.

Anonymous said...

6:32.

Umm, no.

You are showing yourself to be just as clueless as W.

First, Rochester, NY is in no way comparable to Boston, MA (the latter being one of the most expensive parts of the country, the former one of the cheaper).

Second, there is readily available data here:

http://chronicle.com/article/aaup-survey-data-2013/138309#id=193584

The average salary for *all* assistant professors at Nazareth is $58,000…that includes salaries in fields (presumably) like Accounting and Computer Science, which pay much more than philosophy, which likely pays the least. So, figure that the average philosophy salary there is closer to 53k or so. Asking for 65k is asking for more than a 20% increase, which is just insane.

Again, Nazareth acted in the best interest of both parties and W should use this as a valuable learning experience -- I really do wish them the best of luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

Asking for 65k is asking for more than a 20% increase, which is just insane.

It might be insane to expect that she'd get it, but it certainly isn't insane to ask.
You do know how *negotiating* works, right?

Jaded, Ph.D. said...

I would like to request that we stop trying to judge the characters of "W" and Nazareth on the basis of the perceived tone of one e-mail.

What we can ask is: (1) Were W's requests perhaps shooting a bit high for the institution? (2) If so, was Nazareth justified in withdrawing the offer without discussion?

Any feelings we might have about tone and how it reflects on the characters of the parties involved probably reflect just as much on us as it does on them. There might also be other factors independent of character that might explain more plausibly the perceived "tone."

We don't know, but we do have the e-mails and any publicly available info. Thanks to everyone who has brought that to light to help further the discussion!

Anonymous said...

I have a few thoughts on this:

I teach at a prestigious, highly ranked institution in the Boston area. My starting salary was 65K. I would be very surprised if a low-ranked SLAC in a low cost of living area like Rochester offered anything close to that.

Somebody mentioned the average salary at Nazareth as 58K. Sure, but that includes fields like economics that have much higher pay. At my own institution, the average for assistant professors is something in the 80s or 90s, but the starting salary for assistant professors in philosophy is mid to high 60s.

I have firsthand knowledge of a couple of negotiations. My impression is that it's fine to ask for substantial salary increases, sabbaticals, etc., only if you have another comparable or better offer in hand. Without a second offer, you might get a slight salary increase--maybe a few thousand dollars. But even that is iffy. You're certainly not going to get anything like what's on that list.

In fact, a few friends who have negotiated with places that are comparable to Nazareth haven't gotten much at all above the initial offer. If you have offers from Princeton and Harvard (or whatever), you can certainly get huge salary increases, sabbaticals, etc. If you have offers from two regional liberal arts colleges or undistinguished universities, in my experience you'll get very little.

Anonymous said...

You do know how *negotiating* works, right?

I'm not the person to whom you're speaking, but it's hard not to answer on their behalf. (Your question is kinda begging for it.) Do you know how negotiating works?

Putting the snark aside, I think the point was that effective negotiating involves making demands that are sensible in light of the strength of your bargaining position. The strength of your position typically depends on what leverage you have. We obviously don't know from the information provided how much leverage W had, but it's hard to imagine she was in a strong enough position to ask for an extra $12K. That's more than many schools give as a raise to associates being promoted to full. This is negotiating I suppose, but not terribly wise negotiating (given the assumptions I'm making, about which I of course have no real knowledge).

Anonymous said...

Do you know how negotiating works?

I think so. Asking for more than you could expect to get is a pretty standard move. The other side then either comes back with a counteroffer, or stands firm.
What is *very* unusual is for the other side to say goodbye, rescinding their original offer. *Very* unusual. Not something one would reasonably expect.
But that's what Nazareth did.

Anonymous said...

8:50 AM writes: "I think [I know how negotiating works]. Asking for more than you could expect to get is a pretty standard move. The other side then either comes back with a counteroffer, or stands firm.
What is *very* unusual is for the other side to say goodbye, rescinding their original offer. *Very* unusual. Not something one would reasonably expect."

Perhaps someone should explain to 8:50 the various ways in which negotiating a job offer for a TT position differs from an episode of Pawn Stars.

Anonymous said...

If W is willing, it would be helpful to know two things: did she have another offer? If so, she's in a stronger position to make all of these requests. Also, what was the initial salary offer? If they offered 45000 and she asked for 65000, I can see why Nazareth would be concerned. If they offered 60 and she asked for 65, things look different.

Judging from what others posted about the rules at Nazareth (no automatic sabbaticals, no sabbaticals before tenure, average salary of 58 across all fields, and so on), it does seem that this request is out of line. I'm not sure if I would withdraw an offer on those grounds, but I can imagine scenarios in which I'd be tempted. For example, if it was a tossup between two or three top candidates; if the vote was split; if we had other reasons for concern about the candidate. I'm not saying that I'd actually vote in favor of withdrawing the offer--I"m not sure--but one thing that candidates sometimes don't appreciate is how close these decisions are. I've been involved in four searches so far, and in three of them there were really no significant differences between the top candidate and the second choice candidate. As a result, very minor, inconsequential factors ended up playing a role in each decision. So I can understand why someone would want to factor in responses like this--if the candidate seems this out of touch with the realities of the hiring institution, that's troubling.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the audacity of that job candidate; valuing themselves and their priorities, and attempting to negotiate more favorable terms. Fuck them, right?

Anonymous said...

I think so. Asking for more than you could expect to get is a pretty standard move. The other side then either comes back with a counteroffer, or stands firm.
What is *very* unusual is for the other side to say goodbye, rescinding their original offer. *Very* unusual. Not something one would reasonably expect.


I think you're over simplifying in a way that matters here. "Asking for more than you could expect to get;" yes, but within reason. The person to whom you replied was suggesting that W's counteroffer wasn't reasonable and risked putting off the college. (The person's actual word was 'insane'. I'm being charitable here and trying to look past the hyperbole.)

I agree entirely that it was unusual for Nazareth to rescind the offer. I also think it was a bad call. You won't get any argument from me on that. But I didn't take that to be the point here. It seems perfectly consistent to hold both that Nazareth College acted poorly and that W negotiated poorly.

Anonymous said...

9:19,
Perhaps you could do it.
I had never heard of Pawn Stars before you mentioned it. So by all means, explain away.

Anonymous said...

I'm the original anon who posted the salary details for Nazareth.

And, yes, I do know how to negotiate. I've negotiated two offers. To the person who asked me: how many have you negotiated?

Generally -- and take note here -- you will not ask (nor get) more than 10%. Period.

You can ask for whatever you want, sure--why not ask for a 50% increase then? Or 100% I mean, they can just say no, right?

Finally, the idea that Nazareth -- a place where the average assistant salary (again including much, much higher paying fields) would offer a philosopher 60K when the average is 58K is absurd. I would bet their offer was around 50K. And they expected--perhaps--to negotiate up to 53K or 54K, which would roughly be the starting average for fields like philosophy.

I should also point out: if you have no experience negotiating t/t offers in academia, you really shouldn't be commenting on how to negotiate t/t offers in academia, unless you are talking about how thinks ought to be (making 'ideal' claims).

Anonymous said...

This is Anonymous 1232 replying to Anonymous 1249. Anon 1249 summarized my remarks as follows: "I've been on many hiring committees and I expect people to kiss my ass more in formulating their requests" In fact, I neither said nor implicated anything about my own personal expectations. I did say that the email was blunt, and that the candidate came across as extremely entitled and as a potential perennial worry. I stand by these remarks, not as claims about my own expectations, but rather as claims about the effects this email is likely to have on a typical reader -- as is evidenced by Nazareth's reaction and the reaction of many people on this board. I also offered a softer way of making the same requests. This again is not a statement of what I expect; rather, it is a suggestion about how to make a request without raising red flags in a typical reader. In a similar vein, I would advise a candidate to dress conservatively on a campus visit, even though I personally do not care how a candidate is dressed when doing a campus visit at my institution. I once told a candidate, who was concerned about this before a visit, that I personally did not care how he was dressed but that some of my colleagues might, so it was probably best to wear a suit.

Anonymous said...

While I think there should have been more courtesy shown to W, the combination of demands raised a definite red flag for an institution. The only request that I see as being reasonable is the first request. The second request is also reasonable, but most colleges have a set maternity leave policy and therefore the request should not need to be made. It is illegal to ask an applicant if they plan to have children, but my wife was asked this question in every interview. This is particularly common in the sciences. My point is that it is better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission. By asking pre-hire, she given the college a way to not hire her and not have to disclose why. Had she been hired, taken maternity leave, and then fired; then she has the ability to effectively sue. Also, this is why many women wait until they have tenure before having children. I think it is horrible, but unfortunately, this is way if often happens.

The big issue is that she has not even stepped on campus but has already asked for between 1 year and 1.5 years of leave before she has even started the job. My impression is that sabbatical was something that had not been discussed at the interviews. Sometimes a college has a pecking order of who does and does not get sabbatical. If the applicant did not try to get an impression of the culture of the college before making this request, I can see how it would be out of line for the aims of the college. Some colleges do not even have sabbatical.

Next, the applicant has not even started the position and the applicant has already started making an issue about course load. It gives the impression that the applicant, despite how great they may have been in an interview, is going to be a constant set of demands.

In my opinion the final nail in the coffin is asking for a delay of employment to finish their post doc. This is not an R1 position and the reason the college did a search this year was because they needed someone for next year, not 2015. In a small institution the line of funding for the position may disappear by then and be reallocated to another department. So, by asking for a delay of employment not only is it putting undue pressure on the teaching load of the department, it risks them even being able to have the position.

No single demand was necessarily bad, but the combination of them makes the applicant seem like a disaster waiting to happen for the department. This is not to imply that this applicant was any of those things, but I have seen a seemingly excellent applicant become a major problem by not reading the signs. IThis hurts to say but if I was on the search committee, I probably would have done the same thing. The key to negotiating is picking your battles. These were all big things and many of them unreasonable for a small college. Some small colleges do not offer sabbatical pre-tenure. My impression is that the applicant did not gently probe the committee to figure out the culture of the department before requesting these things.

Anonymous said...

I had something similar happen to me about ten years ago. I was offered a job verbally by the department chair after a campus visit. I then asked (on the phone) about the possibility of a spousal hire but made no other requests, partly because that university's faculty was unionized and had a fairly rigid but fair salary scheme. I had been told and had read that one has to act serious when negotiating, so I may not have sounded as flexible and ingratiating as was expected. I was very soon after told that the offer was rescinded because the "dean hadn't been impressed" when I met with her. Why the dean hadn't weighed in before the offer, I never learned. I was crestfallen, and still don't know if the offer was rescinded due to my request or not.

By the way, I do have to agree with those who were put off by the tone of the negotiating email from the candidate. The numbered list of big requests is just too much for a little college to accept (maternity leave excepted). I recently served on a search committee and had discussions with colleagues about whether a candidate "seems high maintenance" or not. This is a real concern for a teaching-focused institution that really needs colleagues on board who aren't going to expect special treatment. We're all overworked, and don't want a newcomer's special deal to force the rest of us to take on even more.

Anonymous said...

I would second 8:50 AM - it is very unusual to withdraw an offer in the face of even quite unreasonable counter-offers; if Nazareth wants to justify the morality of their decision (not just the self-interested rationality), they need to say why this is the unusual case that warrants this. I doubt they could. Even if these would be extremely unreasonable demands in aggregate; they are (a) not demands but requests; and (b) requested disjunctively rather than conjunctively. Often it will the case that it would be unreasonable to demand A and B and C but not at all unreasonable to request A or B or C. To me this looks like that kind of case.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps someone should explain to 8:50 the various ways in which negotiating a job offer for a TT position differs from an episode of Pawn Stars."

Here is one difference - the 'buyer' in a TT negotiation has a tremendous amount of unjust power over the seller. Whether this difference makes a moral difference is perhaps not so clear ...

Anonymous said...

Generally -- and take note here -- you will not ask (nor get) more than 10%. Period.

I doubt that you know this. You said you have been involved in *two* negotiations. From this vast experience you draw a conclusion about what *generally* happens.

Anonymous said...

The search committe believed W was the candidate they wanted, then gained more information, leading them to change that belief: they came to believe W was not actually the candidate they wanted. The belief-changing information was gained after their offer had, if information in this thread is accurate, been rejected, legally speaking.

Suppose that, in interviews, they had asked how W would respond to an offer of [whatever their offer was], and W had replied as she did to their actual offer. I gather it would not be a problem for the search committee to factor this information into their decision; it would lead them to regard the candidate as not interested in their kind of school, just as it evidently did with the way things actually occurred. People are rejected for less all the time.

So clearly, those who feel Naz acted inappropriately consider the relevant difference the fact that the job had been offered to W. But I don't think I yet understand why. I think it is obvious that some information gained after a job offer has been made could make it morally permissible to withdraw the offer; the background checks many universities conduct prior to officially making a hire are an example of this. Obviously, "not being a good fit" isn't like having a criminal record, but since "not being a good fit" can certainly take you out of the running for a job before an offer, I'm puzzled at the outcry of it being used after an offer (which had been rejected, recall, as those weighing in on the legal status of a counteroffer have said). Or are those who considered Naz's action inappropriate arguing that the attempt to negotiate did not convey a poor fit, and Naz misinterpreted it as doing so? (This claim seems to be what some have expressed, but it also seems weak, considering the information others have provided about the plausibility of W getting what she wanted. Considering how out-of-line with the university's policies some of the requests were, it seems dubious to claim we can infer nothing about poorness of fit from her requests.)

Anonymous said...

It strikes me that most of the comments here are looking at this the wrong way. What you want to ask is not what BS statement the dept made about why they are withdrawing the offer, but rather, what was their real reason for withdrawing the offer. It is hard to believe that what they were really thinking was "will this person fit with our department" or "is this candidate student-centered enough?"
Deans and administrators deal with a non-stop flow of entitled academic prima donnas (of all genders, races, creeds, colors, etc) and the last thing they need is another one. While I may have no issue with the tone of the email (I don't, it sounds sterile enough), the real question you have to ask is how did it sound to the dean that it was forwarded to? I'd bet that the first administrator who saw it said to him or herself something along the lines of "If someone is coming to me with a list of demands now and the contract hasn't even been signed, what will she be like with tenure? Do I want to deal with another faculty member who will expect more from the college that I can give for the next twenty five years?. . ."
The demands might sound reasonable to you or I, but to an administrator, the person who made them must sounds like someone who will be difficult to deal with. Which dean wants that headache? Easier to just pick the next name.
The school can pick the next qualified philosopher (and I'll bet that they can even pick the next qualified female philosopher, if that is what they were going for) and get someone who looks just as good on paper sans initial combativeness.

Anonymous said...

This is in response to 12:56. I do think you are asking the right question. We can all agree that it is morally permissible for a search committee to decide not to make an offer based on fit. Furthermore, I'm willing to grant that W's e-mail gave them information that she would not fit. (In fact, I'm quite skeptical here, but that's another discussion.) So, the key question is why a university/college is acting immorally in rescinding an offer based on this new evidence, especially give that some sorts of evidence could reasonably warrant rescinding an offer.

Let's, first, set aside a red herring. It may be that negotiating constitutes legally "rejecting" an offer. This is irrelevant. We all know that legal definitions of terms are often not co-extensional with the actual English terms. W did not reject the offer. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the school did anything illegal. That's not the key issue. The key issue is whether the school did anything immoral.

Here is a simple view, and I would love feedback from some ethicists. Promising and verbal contracts generate moral commitments. These commitments can be overridden by others. For instance, a school has a commitment to protect its students. If a school learned that the candidate was dangerous, this would've overridden the commitments it incurred. However, merely learning that a fulfilling a contract/promise will be inconvenient or learning something that would have (in the past) lead to never incurring the commitment, does not override the commitment. So, the school did something morally wrong.

I would love somebody to poke holes in this and/or offer a better argument. The main idea, though, is that even getting some information that you've made a mistaken moral commitment (i.e. one you wouldn't have made if you had all of the info) is not enough to make it morally permissible to shirk the commitment.

Anonymous said...

If that was an entire email from W, and not just an excerpt, then I thought it was amazingly rude. I particularly dislike the business-speak "make the decision easier for me" language. It actually reminds me of entitled undergraduate grade-grubbing.

I'm not making any comment on whether rescinding the offer was wrong (I do think it was abrupt, and also a bit rudely done). But W's tone definitely conveys the impression that the candidate has several other jobs to choose from, so losing this one offer shouldn't hurt too much.

Bottom line, I guess -- you start to treat it like an abrupt business negotiation, you leave yourself open to the other party doing the same.

Anonymous said...

In response to 11:46AM. Again, how many offers have you negotiated? Yes, I'm the anon who negotiated two, and I have dozens of friends who have negotiated multiple offers…which, of course, is still a tiny sample size…but I can pretty much assure you that our experiences are not atypical. But hey, you can keep negotiating however you want.

Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

1:42 PM writes: "However, merely learning that a fulfilling a contract/promise will be inconvenient or learning something that would have (in the past) lead to never incurring the commitment, does not override the commitment. So, the school did something morally wrong.

I would love somebody to poke holes in this and/or offer a better argument. The main idea, though, is that even getting some information that you've made a mistaken moral commitment (i.e. one you wouldn't have made if you had all of the info) is not enough to make it morally permissible to shirk the commitment. "

Where your argument goes wrong is in assuming that the school has made a commitment/promise to W.

You're picturing it like this: The school agreed/promised/committed itself to employ W. Subsequently, W did certain things that made the school wish they hadn't agreed/promised/committed themselves to employ W. And so the school decided not to make good on their promise/commitment.

You should be picturing it like this: The school offered to give W x amount of dollars and perks in return for doing a certain job, extended their hand for a handshake and asked, "Do we have a deal?" Instead of shaking their hand and saying "Yes, we have a deal," W keeps her hand in her pocket and asks whether the school would give her x, y, and z (along with p, q, and r). At this point, the school puts their hand back in their pocket and says, "Nevermind, we'll find someone else to do the job."

No agreement was reached. No promise/commitment was made.

Anonymous said...

No SLAC wants to put all that time and effort into a search only to have the person never show up or not pull their weight around the department for the first couple of years so they can publish their way out.

I bet the people at Nazareth thought that they couldn't take the risk of W bolting ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Again, how many offers have you negotiated?

What difference does that make? I’m not idiotically generalizing on the basis of a small number. You are.

Yes, I'm the anon who negotiated two, and I have dozens of friends who have negotiated multiple offers…

Bullshit. You have not interviewed your dozens of friends who have negotiated multiple offers. You just made that part up.
Christ, people say the stupidest shit in anonymous comments.

…but I can pretty much assure you that our experiences are not atypical.

Oh, good. As long as you can assure me. That’s what I was worried about, that you wouldn’t be able to assure me. But, since you can, great!

Anonymous said...

On the appropriateness of W's demands, I'm sympathetic to the negative replies, but they overlook two obvious points:

1. They weren't "demands," but opening requests in a negotiation.

2. There is no basis for inferring that she expected to get any of this, or felt entitled to, and at least some reason to infer otherwise.

The department acted in bad faith, by treating a negotiation request as though it were an admission on her part as to what she feels entitled to, or what her interests her. In effect, they deceptively lured her into one context, and treated her as though she were in another. Shame.

SLAC-er said...

Two hypotheticals:

Scenario 1: W talked with the chair at N, raised all five of those points, gently and carefully, and the chair said, "I'm happy to see what we can do. Send along an email and I'll talk with the dean."

Scenario 2: The department at N was split in opinion between two candidates, W and X, with those who favored X thinking that W didn't fit with their teaching profile and worrying that W wouldn't be happy at N. Everyone in the department is concerned about covering courses (maybe there are leaves or retirements coming). The department only got the line because they made a case that they desperately needed coverage for some classes over the next few years. The department has been burned by failed searches and are utterly frantic that this search is going to fail too, leaving them all even more burdened than they already are.

I suspect that there are fewer folks who can reliably rule out both scenarios (and others like them) than there are folks who are voicing their opinions about whether W or N are in the wrong.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a place just like Nazareth. And to all the people who have expressed disbelief at W's cluelessness, I have to say: if this is her first round on the market (assuming this would be the case if she is on a postdoc), how could she possibly anticipate what the "culture" of a place is supposed to be? Say this small, student-centered teaching college is in a small, perhaps unattractive town with little intellectual draw, and a fresh, enthusiastic PhD shows up for a campus visit with oodles of potential. Your search committee is on best behavior and trying their hardest to show off their institution. They obviously make no promises, but certainly paint everything rosy (in sometimes contradictory fashions). And no one breathes a word about money, period. If you have a PhD, you don't have one from a small teaching college, and right out of school your grad program might provide your only professional context.

You get a job offer at all because you have developed a research profile of some sort, because you got the fancy post-doc. I have been on SC's at my institution and in all cases, the research shine of a prospective candidate is what gets them to campus in the first place. Nazareth brought this presumably recent PhD from a presumably prestigious institution (post-docs are hard to get) to campus instead of someone who had adjuncted half their life away at similar colleges and therefore was not polishing up their book manuscript or publishing articles.

It is certainly fair for an institution to deny a request, but I can't fathom a justification for rescinding. And I am shocked that so many comments would agree with or applaud the college's actions. A job candidate is offering their labor. To call believing you know what your labor is worth "entitled" is a really sad commentary on the state of our profession. If an institution can't or doesn't want to pay you what you think you are worth, fine. If they want to offer you less, fine. If you want to accept it or not accept it, fine. But all any of us can do is act in good faith, and this--rescinding the offer--was not a good-faith act.

Because: the claim that an offer is connected to an implicit respect for the high premium placed on teaching is a joke. Such colleges right now are so strapped for cash, faculty would be psyched if all they had to care about was their 3-3 or 4-4. Instead, most of their time is re-directed toward mountains of bureaucratic or administrative work, required of them because administrative staff and budgets have been slashed. The teaching part is the best part of the day, and frankly, the part that is the easiest to outsource to adjuncts. What is difficult to outsource is the complete running of the department/major/program with no staff support, with the unending anxiety about how attractive your liberal arts discipline might appear to the board of trustees, with the entire higher admin breathing down your neck that your enrollments suck or the thing you teach with all of its student-focused-ness doesn't get them jobs, i.e. "promote student success." There is some realpolitik issue at play here concerning governance, finance, hierarchies of power, departmental dysfunction, etc, not a "good taste" issue about a candidate's correct or incorrect tone or response.

Anonymous said...

In reply to 12:56 PM:

I am fully on board with the notion that, if Nazareth perceived (reasonably, I think) that W's of demands showed that she was a poor fit for their institution, they were justified in rescinding the offer.

However, I think even if you accept that, it still reflects enormously poorly on Nazareth to remain at the stage of assessing fit *after* extending a job offer. I realize that in practice, assessing a candidate's priorities and likelihood of being happy in a certain setting is an inexact science, but if it really mattered to them to ensure that they got a candidate whose emphasis was on teaching, who would not be a "flight risk," etc., shouldn't they have done ample due diligence on exactly those questions *before* offering the job to W? The abrupt response to the list of demands suggests that they were sufficiently unconvinced of the candidate's degree-of-fit that it took only one e-mail to convince them that their sweepstakes winner had the wrong headset for the job. If those aspects of fit are a significant criterion for hiring, how could you not make sure to have vetted the candidates on that point before offering them the position?

One possibility, of course, is that the dean and administration took a different read of the candidate than the department. Perhaps the department was sufficiently convinced that W would be a good colleague and contributor to the school's mission, but the e-mail sufficiently convinced the admin otherwise to the point that they revoked the offer. In that case, it seems to me that much of the blame *still* falls on the SC, for failing to prep the candidate adequately for negotiations. It seems to me that they did not give the candidate an adequate sense of the college's priorities and resources. If that information was relevant (and it clearly was), how was it *not* shared on the fly-out?

Perhaps I'm being uncharitable, but even in finding Nazareth's decision to rescind the offer justified, I'm left with a general impression that a significant part of the search process was not conducted competently: either W should never have been offered, or, in being offered, she should have been made much more aware of what kind of institution Nazareth is and what kind of negotiating position they would likely adopt. Perhaps that is not such a galling criticism: those of us who have been on the hiring side know how difficult it is to get an adequate impression of a candidate, and to convey an adequate impression of a school, in the limited facetime that an interview and fly-out afford. Be that as it may: for all that we demand of job candidates these days, we ought to demand minimal competence of search committees. The evidence available is far from probative, but this circumstance does not do much to inspire confidence in this one's process.

Anonymous said...

232

Your case uncharitably portrays W. It is *absolutely* normal to negotiate in fact, I would say that it would have been patently irrational for W to simply accept the offer without requesting concessions. It is such a standard part of the process that I'm seriously confused by those of you who seem to think that W should simply have accepted the job and kept her damn mouth shut.

If negotiations were universal (except for the chumps) then that changes your example in some pretty obvious ways. The problem disappears and, once again, Nazareth looks like a jerk. They look like a jerk because they acted in a jerky way.

Anonymous said...

Too many commenters seem to be missing the point. The issue is not whether the attitudes apparently expressed by W's statements give reasons to change one's mind about hiring her.

No - the issue is whether to treat her starting point in a negotiation as expressions of her attitudes. And the answer is no; the rules of decency, law, and common sense already license people to ask for things in a negotiation context that don't express what they really believe they're entitled to, or can expect. They're not demands.

Offering someone a job invites them to negotiate in this context, and to play by these rules, which differ from ordinary speech.

The department then has no right to switch, mid-game, and interpret her statements as expressions of her beliefs or attitudes. That's bad faith, deceptive and wrong.

Anonymous said...

8:09 PM writes: "Your case uncharitably portrays W. It is *absolutely* normal to negotiate in fact, I would say that it would have been patently irrational for W to simply accept the offer without requesting concessions."

I don't see what's uncharitable about it. It wasn't meant to include any kind of editorializing, just a purely descriptive account of the exchange.

Also, I didn't suggest that it isn't "absolutely normal to negotiate." My point (for anyone paying attention) was simply that no agreement had been reached. In pulling (or deciding not to re-extend) their initial offer, they are not thereby failing to honor some commitment/promise on their part, as 1:42 (you?) suggested.

Anonymous said...

"No - the issue is whether to treat her starting point in a negotiation as expressions of her attitudes. And the answer is no; the rules of decency, law, and common sense already license people to ask for things in a negotiation context that don't express what they really believe they're entitled to, or can expect. They're not demands...The department then has no right to switch, mid-game, and interpret her statements as expressions of her beliefs or attitudes. That's bad faith, deceptive and wrong."

8:33: Imagine that she had asked for $100,000 salary, a 2-2 teaching load, and a reserved parking space with her name on it.

Question: Would the department in this case have been justified in thinking that these requests indicated (or expressed) certain beliefs or attitudes held by the candidate?

Answer: Of course.

So everything you wrote above is false. What else you got?

Anonymous said...

"The department then has no right to switch, mid-game, and interpret her statements as expressions of her beliefs or attitudes. That's bad faith, deceptive and wrong."

Of course they do. In fact, they did. And broke no law in doing so.

Here's what So Many graduate students misunderstand about the job market. The job market is Real Life, not a thought experiment.

Here's some Real World advice about negotiating (and I speak as someone who, before he was an academic now serving with his local union, worked for a labor union and who helped union members negotiate with management):

Negotiating is a process of give-and-take. Nazareth offered a job. W inquired about additional perks. But she did not offer anything in return. Step 1 of the negotiating phase in this situation is: she offers her services, they offer a job. She then asked for additional perks, but offered nothing in return. More often than not, successful negotiating involves giving the other entity something in return. All W offered in return was the *possibility* that she would take the job ("make my decision easier"). She was asking for something without offering anything in return (in fact, her language suggests that, even if Nazareth had agreed to all her requests, she still may not have accepted their offer).

This is where leverage comes into play: the more leverage you have, the less you have to offer in negotiations. Because she had (and still has) no idea how close the vote was, how strong the other applicants are, and how much they desired her, she took a risk when she entered into negotiations without offering anything in return. Unfortunately, there is likely little she could have offered in return, at least explicitly. Big name scholars, for instance, can trade on their star power when negotiating. But at the very least, she could have allowed for some possibility, made some gesture along the lines of "and please let me know if there is something I can do for you in return."

Asking for something and not offering anything in return is not negotiating. We often use that term to describe these actions on the job market, but it's a mistake to do so. The point of negotiation is compromise. W was asking Nazareth to change their offer, but was not offering any concessions on her end. That's not negotiating, because she wasn't working toward a compromise.

Yes, I know, many people have made requests - and have been granted them - without having to concede anything to the hiring university. However, that should not be taken as a sign that such an outcome is either legally or morally obligatory. As a thought experiment, as an object lesson for an introductory course on business ethics, perhaps we point to Nazareth as an entity that acted in bad faith. But in the Real World, they are allowed to do so, regardless of whether or not we approve.

Anonymous said...

To March 12, 2014 at 3:33 PM:

Great -- I'm glad you've finally made your way to: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Anonymous said...

Just a note of caution for grad students thinking of applying to UK jobs: I suspect the reaction of this SLAC would not be atypical in the UK.

In the UK, I think it's fair to say that negotiating is not the norm for junior faculty positions. First, universities are public institutions with standardized, union-approved, publicly accessible pay-scales. Second, the hiring process is accelerated, with departments typically under pressure to interview all candidates and make a decision on a single day, in order to have the appointment done and dusted by the end of the week. Third, there is just no culture of it.

So I think many UK institutions would look at W's list of 'provisions' and see W as a nightmare colleague in the making.

Anonymous said...

W's primary failure was the failure to recognize that we are living in a buyer's market in the vast majority of disciplines, including Philosophy. W's secondary failure was to assume that some arbitrary salary figure she found somewhere was actually applicable to the college in question. It was an unfortunate result for W, but in my opinion tragically clueless on W's part. FWIW search pools are almost always deep and I've hired dozens of PhDs over the years. As we used to say in the 80s, "Homey don't play that."

Anonymous said...

As a recruiter, I can tell you that W did make one big mistake: doing this in writing. Technically, what W did was decline the offer given and respond with a counter-offer. This, as a matter of employment law, actually takes the previous offer off the table and puts the onus on the employer to either accept or decline her counteroffer. If they decline, then there is in fact no offer on the table.

It is very, very risky to negotiate a job offer in writing. My strong advice to any candidate would be to conduct such negotiations via phone, and always in the vein of "asking about flexibility" rather than dictating alternative terms.

Anonymous said...

The retraction is indefensible.

However, I'm wondering what would be the minimum. Let's say the candidate has already had some time to think about the offer before the counter. How about "No on everything. Accept the original offer within 3 days or we move on to the next candidate?"

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Nazareth violated hiring conventions, though they obviously didn't violate the law. But here's an important question: did the candidate have another offer? If she had another offer, and sent an email like this, Nazareth might very well have thought that even if they did their best to increase the salary and respond to the other conditions, she'd still turn them down. And in a case like that, I don't think Nazareth would be doing anything wrong in deciding to just move on to their second choice.

It would be interesting to hear what successful negotiations look like. Anyone care to share their experiences?

I'll do my part: I've only had one job offer, and it was straight out of graduate school. The school offered a particular salary, and I asked if there was any possibility of increasing it. I got $1000 more. That's it. I was happy with it; after all, I was going to accept regardless of whether they increased the salary, so even a very minor increase like this was nice. I asked over the phone, not via email.

Anonymous said...

"As a recruiter, I can tell you that W did make one big mistake: doing this in writing. Technically, what W did was decline the offer given and respond with a counter-offer. This, as a matter of employment law, actually takes the previous offer off the table and puts the onus on the employer to either accept or decline her counteroffer. If they decline, then there is in fact no offer on the table."

This is mostly right, except it misses W.'s second big mistake: W. didn't extend a counteroffer at all. Rather, W. put together a list of conditions that would make her decision 'easier'. That's not a counteroffer, which would have looked something like this: "If you can meet all or some of these requests, then I will take the job." Give AND take. Instead, W. unwisely offered no security to Nazareth should the latter meet all these requests. At best, this is inept negotiating.

Anonymous said...

I have three thoughts:
1. I would not send an email like that, and I hope my advisor would coach me not to send an email like that.
2. The way the email was written just screams, "I have another, better offer and am probably not going to take your offer unless you perform a miracle." I would bet the hiring committee read this and decided they would be doing her a favor by eliminating/simplifying the "decision" (her word).
3. I admire this person bravery for sharing the exchange and making it a topic for rich discussion. I hope that I would be that brave.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody seriously believe that Nazareth, looking at this list of requests, wouldn't be right to conclude that the candidate simply would never be happy at their institution? Most likely Nazareth couldn't accommodate any of the requests. Wouldn't the reasonable inference be that she would start deeply dissatisfied and never much improve?

If Nazareth had had this information about the candidate's desires before it made its offer, almost certainly it would not have tendered it.

Whether or not Nazareth was "morally" right to rescind the offer, even given this additional information, is one question. But it had every reason to be unhappy at its end with what it found out about the candidate, and to expect a tenure from the candidate that was unpleasant, entitled, and short.

Eliza said...

I don't understand all the comments about how she "asked for more without offering anything else in return." What could she have possibly offered "in return"? I don't think that's really how academic negotiations work.

Perhaps this is what the comments are trying to get at: it is a good idea, in negotiation, to phrase what you want in ways that are about your shared goals with the institution, rather than your personal needs.

For example, when I negotiated a deferral so I could do a postdoc, I made the case based on a specific, ambitious research project that I wanted to launch which was far more realistic for me to begin in the postdoc setting than as a first-year assistant professor teaching courses. My institution agreed with me that it was in their interest to have me come with this research agenda underway, or at least, they found it convincing enough that it contributed to their decision to let me do it.

For W, that would have meant framing her email in terms of a vision of what she wants to offer the department in research and teaching, and explaining how these requests would help to make that possible. For example, the request about only three preps could have been couched in terms of the innovative teaching that she hopes to do, and wanting to ensure that she will be able to do it in the ambitious and exciting way that she envisions. (This would be most compelling if animated by some pithy specifics, of course.)

I do think that W could have benefitted from far better mentoring on negotiations. That said, I still think that Nazareth acted unconscionably. Most of us receive little training in how to negotiate, and having gotten bad advice doesn't mean we'll be bad colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Since we're all just speculating and generalizing anyway, I'll say that Nazareth's reaction is structurally very similar to my virtual reaction the first time I tried, as manager of a smallish club, to buy a top prospect in Football Manager. You scrape together the funds to pay the transfer fee, and then negotiations start and it becomes clear that the player's expectations are drastically different from your own. My highest paid player gets 65k pounds a week and this 19-year-old with only a handful of first team action wants 85k a week and a 350k signing bonus?! It appears I miscalculated, so I'd better just end negotiations and get back to business before the window closes.

Obviously there are myriad ways in which that analogy doesn't work, but I do suspect that the hiring dept. might have been in a similar situation. Perhaps they were very excited about the large number of extremely qualified applicants they had, many of whom would have been out of their league before the economy tanked, and they made an offer to someone they thought was a real hot-shot who'd they be lucky to get. Then she opened negotiations with some requests that were so out of line with what they could offer that they realized they'd made a mistake. No time to go through the motions, they need to move on before the window closes.

I can understand N's actions if something like that is true, in part because the story requires that W be a hot-shot future international who will be more than fine, and so it just makes me feel better because there wasn't much real harm done. If something like this isn't the case, and W is really not going to be better off and so really was harmed by this, then it is a really shitty thing to have done.

Anonymous said...

As someone not in the teaching field, I don't know all the aspects of job offer negotiations, but it seems W blew it. Regardless of what many of you think, the manner in which her "sweeteners" were requested made them sound more like demands. The adding of the maternity proviso was also a red flag. If the college rescinded her offer, as they did, then you have the unspoken threat of lawsuit, which many commenters said W should consult an attorney on. It is very evident from the "tone" of her negotiating letter that she was looking down at the college as if they were a substandard organization. The demands (yes they were demands), even if met, would merely make her decision "easier", which means she would still have to think about it. What hubris! In my profession (sales) I have used real numbers to negotiate my terms. When the owner of a company is shown I can quadruple their income, I have leverage and earned the right to make demands. So why are the provisos demands? Because the candidate wants them. By asking for the provisions the candidate has expressed a great deal of displeasure with what was offered and made it clear that there would still be reservations in her decision even if they all were met. I just Googled the average national salary for this position and she was 30% off (50k not 65k). Does W think the hiring committee is stupid? I know I would never hire someone with this attitude.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 11:26, March 11.

Re: successful negotiation.

I was hired by a SLAC out of a postdoc. I had no competing offers, i.e., "leverage," but I still had a year remaining on my postdoc, so they knew I wouldn't starve if I didn't take the job.

I asked for a 10% salary increase, and received a 7.5% increase. As best I could, I used the method outlined in Getting to Yes, by the Harvard Negotiation Project. I negotiated directly with the Dean, and did it over the phone, NOT in writing.

Everything else was standardized in the faculty handbook, so I couldn't negotiate much else, other than credit toward the tenure clock, which I declined. I didn't ask to stay at my postdoc, mostly b/c it wasn't tempting. It was a teaching postdoc, and I wasn't getting much research done.

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that Nazareth is not a SLAC, per se. It is a regional master's granting college. It does not have a traditional liberal arts curriculum and has majors you would not find at a clear SLAC like Vassar College or Swarthmore College. Its peer institutions are places like Fairfield University, Siena College, and Canisius College.

Why is this relevant? Look at the AAUP report on the economic status of the profession and the average salaries at these schools for Assistant Professors is below $60,000 (at Narazareth, it was $55,000 in 2010). In the humanities, starting salaries average around $50,000. I know this because I teach at one such institution (not any of the ones mentioned). I will add that these schools typically do not grant mid-tenure sabbaticals.

The job candidate clearly did not do his/her homework. What the candidate was asking for was a starting salary closer to what one finds at some lower-tier R1 universities and HSLACs like Vassar. I am quite confident that the withdrawal of the offer had nothing to do with the maternity leave request. I discussed this case with my spouse who is an attorney and she does not think the candidate has a leg to stand on if she considers legal action. She would have to prove that they rescinded the offer on account of request for maternity leave. All NC would have to do is show that no one has ever been hired in Philosophy or the other disciplines in the humanities with that sort of salary, etc.

Anonymous said...

The best comment on this whole thread was

March 13, 2014 at 6:58 AM

Emails are as legally binding as any other written instrument. Never negotiate in writing. This thread is a perfect example of why not. I saw 3 comments already advising W to consult an attorney.

zombie said...

Eliza (8:33): That was really constructive and helpful advice. Thanks.

zombie said...

A negotiating experience:
Via phone, with department chair.
- Asked about flexibility in the salary and was told it would be possible if I had a competing offer.
- Asked for an extended deadline to decide, because I had other campus visits coming up. Granted.
(It was a really good offer, so I eventually took it.)

Anonymous said...

We once had a candidate who accepted our job in March, and then told us in August that they were taking another job and thanks but no thanks after all. So we had just been a negotiating tactic about which the candidate had not been entirely forthcoming. Left us a little bit in the lurch, but it turned out for the best (#2 on the list was a great candidate). My guess is that W was weighing offers--plus had another year to go on the postdoc--so decided to play hardball and see who bit. That list of requests might have been what he/she was getting from another school and was hoping to get matched at Nazareth (who knows, maybe N was located somewhere he/she wanted to be more). Not saying it was handled as well as it could have been (don't do it like this over email. Make a call!). In any case, this isn't something anybody in a less fortunate position would do unless they were nuts or actually were totally naive about the market. If this had been W's only job offer, or there weren't a postdoc, then I doubt it would have happened quite like this. As to the legality of rescinding the offer--you can bet they checked before they did. They were offended by the tone and yanked the offer...because. they. could. A place like Nazareth with a 4/4 is going to laugh out loud at somebody making those requests. Mind you, they should have realized that before they made the offer, but it might have been a forced offer that they really didn't want to make...or a close call...or who knows. What seems clear is that they didn't really want to make it work with this candidate.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked at how many people are siding with W in this mess. As a department chair at a somewhat higher ranked SLAC (3/3 load, modest national rep) I would be appalled to get this sort of email from a candidate. My response would be "No, and you have 48 hours to accept our offer before we move on." (except for maternity leave, which is a simply matter of policy)

Everything about this screams precious prima dona to me. NOT the sort of person I'd ever want in my department. Why didn't W talk to the chair first? Why doesn't she realize that these demands are outrageous? (The median AP salary at Nazareth is $58K, so starting salaries are probably in the low $50s.) If I granted these sorts of requests to a new hire all of my existing faculty would lose it entirely.

She needed *much* better advising from someone. These sorts of inquiries should probably not have been made in the first place, but if she insisted they would have been much better handled through a phone call to the department chair.

Ultimately my reaction to this would exactly mirror that of the email she received. While we'd probably not actually rescind the offer in such a manner, this would have certainly spelled the end of any negotiation and would have started her off on very bad footing should she have accepted the job. I'm sure once this email went around the entire SC immediately said "Oh no, we should have gone with #2."

Anonymous said...

"What seems clear is that they didn't really want to make it work with this candidate."

Really? The university offered her a job. They attempted to hire her. It seems clear to me that the candidate didn't really want to make it work with the university, given that she provided a list of requests the university would need to offer before she even *considered* taking the job. You know, they job they offered her.

Anonymous said...

Zombie, any chance of a new thread for advice on how to negotiate? There are some good tips here amongst the discussion of W's experience with Nazareth, but a dedicated thread would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

When I got my first T/T job offer, I was thrilled. But I had the two-body problem: partner in one state, job offer in another. The commute involved weekly flights. I wasn't sure whether or not to take the job, but was assured by my graduate placement advisor and thesis committee that this problem was very common in philosophy, to mention it to the new dept, and that the new department would be accommodating. What a laugh. They were sooooo not accommodating. I was assigned the worst possible schedule for commuting flexibility, and was persistently called out for "not being around" and "not doing my job"--sort of odd, since I had a schedule that kept me 'around' 5 days a week! I was lucky to get out of there. MOTS: faculty at shit schools with high teaching loads are going to be very defensive about someone who asks for things that none of them have ever had. They're senior people, you're junior, and "you're acting like a superstar" if you so much as ask for a flexible schedule--"your job is to do what you're told" (I was scolded). You're walking on eggshells...and if you make their already fragile egos snap by getting insubordinate (yeah, they said that)...shit will get ugly. W dodged a hail of bitterness and is well out of it.

NazCrit said...

Nazareth sets a very bad precedent here by refusing to negotiate in good faith. It's hard for me to overstate how unacceptable the college's behavior here is to the eye of someone outside of academia. (Obviously, a lot of people in academia find it unacceptable was well.)

Nazareth is a mediocre college, barely offering a living wage to its new professors. Not only will it not negotiate, it won't even listen to negotiations. It'll go so far as to punish (presumably really screwing up W's life) someone with the "gall" to look out for herself and her family.

Why? Because it can. Because our economy and academia have been mismanaged by greedy idiots. All the power rests in the hands of employers, who apparently feel no compunctions about using that power to pursue their own narrow self-interest.

What's especially amusing are these comments about how "Real Life" functions. Take it from me, someone who has spent plenty of time working in the "real world" and who has negotiated job offers--my own and others'--in the past. The behavior of Nazareth is unacceptable. Shameful, in fact.

Anonymous said...

NazCrit,

>$50k/year is not barely above a living wage.

Anonymous said...

As someone that has hired post-doc researchers in both industry and academic staff, I think that the SLAC's response is completely justified, and that W doesn't understand the culture of a small liberal arts college, as someone pointed out.

To be quite honest, her list of "deal sweeteners" comes across with a very entitled attitude. As a recruiter, the words "high maintenance" were what sprang to my mind. I'm not saying she should not have entered into negotiations, but her exhaustive list in and of itself was a signal of unrealistic expectations. I would say she should have stuck with salary and the sabbatical.

Anonymous said...

Christ, people say the stupidest shit in anonymous comments.

The above is a nice example.

Anonymous said...

Several people have suggested that Nazareth was trying to set an example or send a message to its other finalists. I read the OP as suggesting that the candidate herself circulated the email she sent and Nazareth's reply. In other words, she thinks either (a) that her requests were unreasonably denied, (b) that Nazareth terminated the negotiation unfairly, or (c) both.

Nazareth probably isn't thrilled that this has become public, but I seriously doubt they're the source of the leak (among other things, it might be illegal for them to leak this information).

If the candidate did leak the story, her decision seems ill-judged: lots of people are likely to know who she is or to go to the trouble of finding out. But then, her requests seem ill-judged -- in the aggregate and for the type of institution -- too, so perhaps it's par for the course.

(That said, Nazareth should've at least tried to work with her to explain why her requests were unreasonable in the circumstances.)

zombie said...

FYI, there are some essays over at IHE on negotiating job offers. (They are not specific to philosophy)

http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/02/19/essay-negotiating-academic-job-offers

http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2011/03/14/essay_on_how_to_negotiate_during_the_academic_job_process

http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2013/11/25/tips-new-faculty-members-negotiating-terms-their-positions

W said...

This is W — I thought I would just offer a few more facts.

Up front: I agree with those arguing that I made a mistake in negotiating. It was a clear case of a miscommunication between the institution and myself. This is how I thought negotiating worked, how I learned to do it, and, for that matter, how I think it should work: you ask about a number of perks and maybe get some of them. I was expecting to get very few of the perks I asked about, if anything at all, given what would be possible for a small college like Nazareth. I certainly did not expect to get either a junior leave or a year for my postdoc. I just thought there was no harm in asking.

Since many commenters seem to be interested in the salary increase I asked for. Maybe two things will be helpful.

1. I asked for a less then 20% increase in salary.

2. When I negotiated for another tenure track offer in philosophy I asked for a more than 20% increase in salary and was offered it. In that case, too, I was not expecting it to be offered. I have also been involved in negotiating in non-academic contexts and (maybe wrongly) got the sense that it works along the “there is no harm in asking”-lines as well. Of course my limited negotiating experience by no means provides data about the right or best thing to do in these kinds of situations.

On maternity leave:

I had already had discussions with someone at the college about maternity leave, and understood that what I was asking for was already unofficial policy. In other words, I was asking for what they were verbally offering me in writing.

I would also like to stress that I was very excited about the job and in general about the prospect of teaching at a small college with a high teaching load. If the offer had been upheld, and I would have chosen to not accept the offer, it would certainly not have been because I want a more research intensive job — I don’t.

The reason for asking about the perks (especially about the course reduction and about limiting the number of preps) was not only to make room for my research but also to ramp up to doing a good job teaching a number of classes that I have not taught before. When I visited I did get the sense that continuing research at a reasonable rate would be expected for tenure. All that said, I think that doing a good job with both their teaching and research expectations is most likely possible without being granted any of the perks I asked about.

There was plenty of much warmer emailing going on between Nazareth’s philosophy department and myself before I sent the negotiating email you saw on the Smoker. And I had hoped to have sufficiently communicated my excitement. Earlier in the day before I sent the email posted, I sent another email that was meant as a warning that I was now switching to what one might call a “negotiating tone”. I obviously didn’t do a good enough job communicating that, though.

All this said, I am flabbergasted by all the moralizing in the comments on this thread. Hopefully a few philosophers on the market can learn from my mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Several people have suggested that Nazareth was trying to set an example or send a message to its other finalists. I read the OP as suggesting that the candidate herself circulated the email she sent and Nazareth's reply. In other words, she thinks either (a) that her requests were unreasonably denied, (b) that Nazareth terminated the negotiation unfairly, or (c) both.

Nazareth probably isn't thrilled that this has become public, but I seriously doubt they're the source of the leak (among other things, it might be illegal for them to leak this information).

If the candidate did leak the story, her decision seems ill-judged: lots of people are likely to know who she is or to go to the trouble of finding out. But then, her requests seem ill-judged -- in the aggregate and for the type of institution -- too, so perhaps it's par for the course.

Anonymous said...

On the 'quickness to judge in the Colorado case' meme that Jaded brings up, this is interesting:

http://laughingphilosopherblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/how-the-site-visit-team-were-invited-to-colorado-the-scoop-from-professor-tooley/

Anonymous said...

"When I negotiated for another tenure track offer in philosophy I asked for a more than 20% increase in salary and was offered it."

Let me get this straight: you have a post-doc and were offered TWO tenure-track jobs?

My heart bleeds for your troubles.

Anonymous said...

(Yes, I double-posted at 7:09 and 8:27. I'd hit the back button at some point and a helpful member of my household hit "post" before rebooting the computer. Sorry! For whatever reason the 7:09 post is more complete.)

Jaded, Ph.D. said...

Anon. 9:19:

I don't get the sense that W shared her story to for you or anyone else's heart to bleed for her. Seems to me it's more cautionary tale than sob story. So lay off.

I take it that she decided to share her story - at some risk (on a broad definition) and with little or nothing at all to gain - because there are important things for other candidates to learn. She was told something about negotiating; what she was told turned out to be false or misguided maybe just in this case, but maybe more generally.

That's important information for people to have and she needn't have shared it with us. I think it's great that she did.

Anonymous said...

The unstated premise behind so much of the posturing above is that the initial offer made by the buyer is more or less just. This is false. The initial offer is just the institution's attempt to pay as little as possible for the labor it is buying. It seems that many have internalized the platitudinous moralizing of such institutions whereby the attempt to minimize labor cost is valorized as merely reflecting the "culture" of the place. This is bullshit.

It doesn't help matters, of course, that the administration of most such academic institutions is composed of the least competent and most venal ranks of the faculty, who often actually believe the absurdities they spout about "fit" etc.

What W did was to try to respond to this initial offer with an offer that represented the highest amount she could ever have expected to sell her labor for. It is clear to anybody who has ever engaged in this that the point is not to get everything you ask for. This is how salary negotiation in a labor market works.

At this point, I can no longer tell if the Dean and VP at Nazareth are sadistic, or merely too stupid to engage in a rationally self-interested way.

Anonymous said...

On the 'quickness to judge in the Colorado case' meme that Jaded brings up, this is interesting:

http://laughingphilosopherblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/how-the-site-visit-team-were-invited-to-colorado-the-scoop-from-professor-tooley/


Boy, that was not interesting. Did anybody think that Colorado had more than one or two individuals at most who were engaged in serious harassment? Is that news? As to whether CU has a climate problem, I strongly suspect it does -- since pretty much every graduate department in philosophy has a climate problem, it's a safe bet CU does as well.

(The "laughing philosopher" is just the worst.)

Anonymous said...

I am pretty familiar with colleges like Nazareth. It's probably wise from the start to differentiate them from Bates or Swarthmore, which are elite SLACs, or frankly any SLAC on the list of top 100 liberal arts colleges. Past that list of 100, there are tons of SLACs that are good regional level liberal arts schools, or masters-level colleges, and then there are lower ones than that (I'd put Naz in the middle group of good regional LACs).

That said, it's wise to make those differentiations first when thinking about how to negotiate. (Ignoring the maternity leave request which shouldn't even be on the list, since it's obvious), a few of the requests - the salary bump, the post-doc postponement, and the teaching load requests - these are probably fine to ask for at elite SLACs - perhaps possible at ones lower on the 100 list and then below. As you drift down in prestige level, any of one of these requests might be simply unacceptable, but definitely the combination of them will likely not be acceptable.

Remember, Naz has an endowment of 53 million dollars, and a student population of 2k. This means that they are struggling to get by. I don't work there, but I can imagine that if they have 4/4 loads, they cannot put off teaching needs for a year, or hand out large salary increases at an institution where people have quite possibly not seen raises in years. Compare to Bates College, a top 100 SLAC. a 220m endowment, with 1.7k students. They're in a substantially different world. I suspect some of those requests are possible there.

So I don't think this is an issue of "don't negotiate". It's an issue where candidates need to be sensitive to the contexts of the institution when they do. So in Naz's case, a 10% bump request by itself might not have been an issue (though I doubt you'd get it, but you'd get something), and perhaps some leeway on teaching preps.

But this isn't the candidate's fault - as a recently minted PhD I had no clue what those different contexts were. This is, IMO, a problem that points to the need for better advising from one's graduate advisor - even if it is general level advice like "talk to the chair on the phone and get a feel for what would be possible to push for".

(and, in advance, because I'm sure someone will say they negotiated at a Naz-like place and got all those requests filled and then some, and then advise to ask for the moon - that's fine, good for you, but you are, I'm sure, in the extreme minority, and that means that entering into such a negotiation means again to be incredibly sensitive to the context of that specific institution).

Anonymous said...

This is a horrific story on a number of grounds. I can't help but think that this had something to do with the fact that she is a woman. My research indicates that there is signficant backlash against women, but rarely men, who negotiate their job offers (Bowles and Babcock, 2013, Psychology of Women Quarterly.)

The consequences of this incident are four-fold. First, the college lost the candidate that they themselves preferred. Second, W lost a great job. Third, other people and especially women will take away that they can't negotiate and this will perpetuate the gender wage gap. And fourth, people will look to this event and conclude that it is ok to discriminate against women. Really? Haven't we come further than this as a society.

Linda Babcock
Author of Women don't ask: Negotiation and the gender divide
Carnegie Mellon University

Anonymous said...

I find myself torn re: the merit of the "it doesn't hurt to ask" justification that many--W included--have given. I can think of many scenarios in which this rule is true. It doesn't hurt to ask my neighbor for a ride to the airport, even if I think it's doubtful that she can give me one. But there are other scenarios in which it does hurt to ask (use your imagination). My question is: does anyone have a principled guide for distinguishing when it's permissible to ask? I imagine a lot of pragmatic norms are in play.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why anyone would be flabbergasted by the moralizing--what was the purpose of releasing the emails in the first place? I certainly don't know for sure, but it seems like the initial impetus has been "OMG look at N's (immoral/outrageous) behavior!" Now I don't know this, but it appears as though that was a foreseeable and likely the intended outcome.

As I said elsewhere--every Dean and Provost owes W a beer for helping them out by releasing the emails. Gonna be a lot easier to lowball those offers!

Anonymous said...

One thing that's really bizarre about this is Nazareth's claim that they're rescinding the offer because W's requests indicate that she'd prefer a research institution. Who wouldn't prefer a research institution to Nazareth? Do the Nazareth faculty really think there are candidates who prefer to teach at a mediocre 4-4 college to a 2-2 research position? Do they really think their second choice candidate, if faced with a choice between Nazareth and some 2-2 research institution, is going to choose Nazareth? The whole line of reasoning just strikes me as ridiculous.

bjdubbs said...

Professor is some combination of guild and vocation. When you join a guild, you join on the guild's terms. Especially at the lower tier institutions, the "negotiation" is more of a polite fiction or courtesy to the candidate than a real negotiation. Candidates that negotiate may be signalling that they do not see the job as a vocation and therefore are not fit to join that particular guild.

Anonymous said...

Linda Babcock,

Reading your comment, I can't help but wonder if it wasn't some disciple of yours who advised this student on how to "negotiate".

Worked great, didn't it?

Can't read captchas said...

Eliza has it right. The college behaved poorly in bluntly rescinding its offer without further ado. If this is how they treat prospective employees, maybe the student ultimately is better off not landing there.

On the other hand, while some negotiation of a contract is normal and should be expected, the student could have benefited from better mentoring about how to negotiate in the academic-hiring context. The email could have included consideration of how the requests benefited the institution as well, especially completion of the post-doc or a demand for early sabbatical time. Many teaching-oriented institutions don't even grant sabbaticals until post-tenure, and 65,000 is often a tenured professor's salary at such schools. So the requests may make the student come across as primarily focused on her own research and not well-informed about the kind of job on offer. They may have decided she wouldn't want to do as much teaching as they knew they needed, and if they never had pre-tenure sabbaticals and earn closer to $65k themselves, they might perceive those requests as unreasonable.

I think a pre-tenure sabbatical is a perfectly reasonable request, for what it's worth. It's a matter of having sensitivity to where your audience is coming from, so that they see your negotiation requests as worth reaching for rather than obviously out of the question.

Anonymous said...

"Who wouldn't prefer a research institution to Nazareth?"

Me, for one. Yeah, it would be nice to have a 2-2 and high salary and time off. However, I got into this profession because I loved teaching students, and I prefer undergrads and the "small liberal arts college experience" to teaching grad students in a top PhD program. The public face of our profession as represented by some - not all - of those who occupy those supposedly lofty positions is embarrassing to me. I'm not eager to be part of that game. I'm busy trying to help my undergraduates develop their greatness. I don't know anything about Nazareth college, but if their faculty are committed to SLAC teaching, perhaps they feel similarly. Faculty at such schools may be keenly aware that some philosophers consider their jobs undesirable, and are on guard against wasting a major investment in a new hire on someone who wants to get out of there as soon as possible. Every time we hire, at least, a major consideration is how likely the person is to love the job and stay in it long-term. We want everyone we hire to succeed and earn tenure.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 6:17 again-- I wrote "Who wouldn't prefer a research institution to Nazareth?"

Anon 8:04 responded: "Me, for one. Yeah, it would be nice to have a 2-2 and high salary and time off. However, I got into this profession because I loved teaching students, and I prefer undergrads and the "small liberal arts college experience" to teaching grad students in a top PhD program. The public face of our profession as represented by some - not all - of those who occupy those supposedly lofty positions is embarrassing to me."

Let me clarify this. I didn't intend to suggest that teaching-focused jobs are inherently undesirable. They're obviously not. I'm sure there are many people who prefer teaching at a selective liberal arts college to a research university; I myself know lots of people like this.

With Nazareth, though, we're not talking about Wellesley or Amherst or even a school lower in the national rankings. We're talking about a regional university that, according to USNews, accepts 71% of applicants. It's located in an area that few people would consider desirable and has a 4-4 teaching load. So, in terms of working conditions at teaching-focused institutions, it's hard to deny that Nazareth is going to end up on the bottom tier of most people's desirability characteristics.

I'm not trying to disparage anyone by saying this. It's tough to get any job at all, and certainly anyone who gets a tenure track position at a place like Nazareth has reason to be happy with it. I'm just saying that I find it odd that a school like Nazareth would assume that some people would PREFER teaching there to teaching somewhere with lighter loads, etc. It's not like your teaching experience is enhanced by having to teach 4 classes a semester instead of 2 or 3.

Anonymous said...

"With Nazareth, though, we're not talking about Wellesley or Amherst or even a school lower in the national rankings. We're talking about a regional university that, according to USNews, accepts 71% of applicants. It's located in an area that few people would consider desirable and has a 4-4 teaching load."

I'm not the same anon as the person you're responding to here, but I just want to suggest, without rancor, that you may not realize that your post comes off as snobby, in more ways than one.

Many academics went into academia because they want to teach. They got through their PhD programs because that's what they had to do to qualify to teach. They keep up with their field -- and perhaps publish -- because it helps them teach more effectively, but they're not driven by a desire to produce bleeding-edge research. (Heck, let's be honest: most people at R1s don't produce cutting-edge research. Sturgeon's Law applies there, too.)

As for Rochester, plenty of people want to live in places like that (I've never lived there, so I'm not pitching my hometown or anything). It's in a beautiful part of upstate New York. It's a midsize city with an adequate variety of restaurants and shopping for most people. For other needs, it's just as connected to Amazon and the interstate system as other places. Millions of Americans grow up in places like Rochester and find them more congenial than crowded, busy places like New York, Chicago (where I have lived), and San Francisco, or mammoth glorified suburbs like Los Angeles (where I have lived) or Phoenix.

Personally, I have a 3-3 load and modest research expectations at a lower-top-tier national SLAC, and for me that hits the sweet spot. But if I had to choose between 2-2 with intense demands and 4-4 with minimal demands, I would choose the latter. I suspect I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

"With Nazareth, though, we're not talking about Wellesley or Amherst or even a school lower in the national rankings."

I fucking love how ranking come into play. Let everyone take notice: rankings matter! Which is precisely why it's a good thing when search committees place significant value on the ranking of the PhD-granting institutions, right?


"We're talking about a regional university that, according to USNews, accepts 71% of applicants. It's located in an area that few people would consider desirable"

True, Rochester (NY) doesn't have the same geographical appeal as Wellesley (MA). I mean, Wellesley is known far and wide as a cultural capital of the east coast.


"and has a 4-4 teaching load."

Yeah, teaching sucks.

"So, in terms of working conditions at teaching-focused institutions, it's hard to deny that Nazareth is going to end up on the bottom tier of most people's desirability characteristics."

Those poor souls, forced to accept the indignity of teaching at Nazareth. Honestly, we should all be chastising W for even applying there in the first place. I mean, what on earth did she find appealing? If nothing else, this case proves that W doesn't deserve a job because she isn't capable of figuring out which jobs are worth applying to. For shame.

Anonymous said...

Good Lord, 8:34, is it hard to get why Nazareth expressed its rejection as it did?

Don't you think that Nazareth would NOT want to hire someone who wouldn't be happy there? If everything W asks for is something that she could reasonably expect only at a research university, isn't it reasonable for them to conclude that she would not be happy at the likes of Nazareth?

Now no doubt that isn't all that might have motivated Nazareth to rescind their offer -- the entitlement issue may well have been another, which, let's say, out of politeness they didn't bring up.

But their stated reason is certainly plenty enough to prefer another candidate, even if rescinding their offer still wasn't called for.

Anonymous said...

"I fucking love how ranking come into play. Let everyone take notice: rankings matter! Which is precisely why it's a good thing when search committees place significant value on the ranking of the PhD-granting institutions, right?"

If you don't think there are significant differences between teaching at an elite liberal arts school like Swarthmore or Wellesley, and teaching at a place like Nazareth, then I don't think the argument can be continued productively. There are vast and obvious differences between the average student at these places, and that makes a real difference in what your teaching will be like at each place. I got my PhD at a very selective school and now teach at an unselective one. Trust me, it makes a difference.



"True, Rochester (NY) doesn't have the same geographical appeal as Wellesley (MA). I mean, Wellesley is known far and wide as a cultural capital of the east coast. "

You do realize that Wellesley is a suburb of Boston, right?


"and has a 4-4 teaching load."
"Yeah, teaching sucks."

Even if you think teaching is wonderful, you might think that it's more wonderful and more beneficial for the students if you're teaching 2 or 3 courses instead of 4.

Anonymous said...

re: quality of students

I just want to point out that some teachers--at all levels--enjoy teaching students who are not the cream of the crop. There's a certain joy in getting someone who hasn't thought deeply about anything in his or her life to see a philosophical problem, or to learn to express himself or herself w/ more subtlety. No doubt there are advantages to teaching more prepared students. But I tend to think that focusing on these advantages belies a self-centered attitude towards teaching, i.e. a concern for how teaching can be worthwhile to the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Wow. W, I thought your tone and your requests completely reasonable, and know from having a tenure-track job at an R1 that you only get what you ask for on the way in. Once they have you, there's no reason to ever give you anything ever again. I think Nazareth's response is appalling and utterly inappropriate and maybe even sexist. Good luck to you, W. If this is how they operate at Nazareth, then I think you may end up concluding that you've dodged a bullet!

Cheryl said...

Don't negotiate over email. That's really the only thing anyone should take away from this email thread. Tone is inferred/implied, you have no context like facial expressions, body language to let you know if you if you are overstepping your bounds. Phone is better than email, but in person is best.

Anonymous said...

She put "maternity leave" in writing and they responded with a written withdrawal of offer?? Lawyer up, Nazareth.

Anonymous said...

As woman, I myself am dismayed at the rampant accusations of sexism on N's part. Sexism DOES exist in our profession, and it NEEDS to be addressed, but there is no evidence that N acted because of the maternity leave demand AT ALL. In fact, W even admitted that a semester long maternity leave is their unofficial policy. I myself think that a 3 new prep load at a teaching college with a small department is highly unreasonable, as is a pre-tenure research sabbatical. Those were most likely the culprit here. Let's not cry wolf so often than when real sexism happens people ignore it.

Anonymous said...

Smaller universities with teaching at the core of their tenets see people like W come and go all the time. Her list raises major red flags about whether there exists an interest on her part at teaching at the institution, and her follow-up response (linked here) tells me that the institution really dodged a bullet.

Anonymous said...

The comments comparing Nazareth to the Wellesleys and Bateses of the world only serve to underscore why they had excellent reasons to be suspicious of a candidate who made these requests. They are used to this kind of snobbery and misunderstanding of the value of their educational mission.

I think this person has absolutely no chance of winning a lawsuit about the maternity issue, because the maternity leave is already their policy, and they had so many other reasons to rescind the offer. I think they should not have done it so bluntly, but this is what happens when you negotiate in writing.

I too find it annoying to have this response labeled as sexist. There's no evidence whatsoever that the college was being sexist. They already have a policy to grant maternity leave. What else makes it seem sexist, exactly?

R. Kevin Hill said...

Her statements could be construed as a counter-offer, which amounts to a *rejection* of the college's offer, leaving them with no further obligations. And yes, she may have a case for employment discrimination despite the fact that the maternity leave issue is buried among many other issues. The employer need not be entirely motivated by a discriminatory reason; they need only be partially motivated (see "mixed motive discrimination").

Anonymous said...

I have a sightly different concern:

If one is negotiating for a new t/t job, while currently employed at a different t/t, what kinds of requests are "reasonable"? Specifically:

1. What percentage above the standard starting salary at the new institution might one reasonably request/expect?

2. How many years towards tenure are reasonable to request? For example, if you are coming in with three years, would it be reasonable to ask for a two year deduction?

3. What might the "max" moving bonus be (assuming a *maximally* far move)?

4. And, lastly, am I correct in assuming that *having* a job counts as something like a "competing offer"?

Any advice on these matters, from hiring-type folks, would be very helpful.

Anonymous said...

"1. What percentage above the standard starting salary at the new institution might one reasonably request/expect?"

Forget about "standard". Consider 10% over the offer the high end of what is reasonably likely.

"2. How many years towards tenure are reasonable to request? For example, if you are coming in with three years, would it be reasonable to ask for a two year deduction?"

This depends greatly on institutional focus and tenure requirements. At a minimum, the years you request credited should meet or (more likely) exceed what would be expected at the institution in question. For example, if about a quality paper is expected per year, you should preferably have 3 good pubs to ask for two years credit. At a teaching-oriented school, the focus will be on the quantity and sort of teaching you did. Two years credit for three years of full-time teaching isn't unreasonable

"3. What might the "max" moving bonus be (assuming a *maximally* far move)?"

Money is money. Whether it's moving expenses, a starting bonus, extra guaranteed research funds, etc. Here's where an ally (most likely the chair) can indicate where to push. Don't tie yourself to one sort of bonus - the institution may have an inflexible policy there, but leeway elsewhere.

"4. And, lastly, am I correct in assuming that *having* a job counts as something like a "competing offer"?"

Yes, if it's plausible that you'd remain in your present job rather than accept the offer. The key is to have a plausible alternative option - there's nothing special about a competing offer over and above this.

Anonymous said...

Moving expenses are the sort of thing that should give no one any heartache. The employee should not try to elevate them to pocket cash, and the employer should provide the full amount so that the move can be effected.

If the employer has lowballed you, go get two quotes from moving companies and include them in your response. Say something like this:

"I appreciate the offer of $1,500 to cover moving expenses. I've reached out to two different moving companies, which have quoted me $1,900 and $2,400 for the move. Would you consider increasing my moving allotment to $1,900 so that i can go with the cheaper alternative? I'm also open to any low-cost options available to your university. Many thanks"

That's the sort of request that only a twisted weirdo could say "no" to.

Anonymous said...

7:39,

A safe way to begin negotiating is to ask what wiggle room there might be for the school. In some cases, there is no room to negotiate. At my school, for instance, we cannot negotiate salary because of our union contracts. Nobody gets a pre-tenure sabbatical, and no matter how many years' experience you bring, nobody gets more than 2 years' credit toward tenure (to ensure that everyone goes up for "3rd year review"). We can't budge on those.

However, other things can be negotiated. Moving expenses, for one. Another is "start-up funds" which usually are awarded to people in the sciences, but can be negotiated by any new faculty member (someone in my department used those funds for a scanner and to buy expensive books not held by our library, but necessary for his research). Instead of a salary bump (which our contracts prohibit), you can ask for a one-time internal grant for conference funding; one recent colleague in another department got her department to award her $2,000 for conference travel (she pays the expenses, and the department reimburses her until she has exhausted the $2,000).

W did a poor job of negotiating. She opened with a list, and basically asked the department to meet her requests. A better starting point (and, as others have noted, always do this over the phone) is to ask where the wiggle room exists, and where they are flexible. You could even start with something like: "Can we talk about the salary, and if that's non-negotiable, what else might we consider?" A good rule of thumb is that one-time expenditures (moving expenses, start-up money, technology purchases, conference expenses, etc.) are much easier to get, because the university can write those off easily.

And as someone else above noted, always phrase it in terms of how helping you helps the school. My colleague with the scanner and new books explained how those help him prepare the classes he was hired to teach. Conference funding helps young scholars not only make a name for themselves, but brings attention to the university. (Administration loves seeing the university's name in print at professional meeting.)

J. Otto Pohl said...

I already posted this at Clariss'a Blog where I found the link. But, I think it fits here well.

She had already been given an initial offer by the College. She was countering with her own proposal. The college is of course free to say that their initial offer is final and they are not changing it. But, it is very rare for colleges or anybody else to then completely rescind their initial offer. For instance in getting books published authors are always advised to try and improve the initial offer. Frequently, they can get a little bit better conditions than the initial offer, particularly regarding free copies and sometimes even royalty rates. Getting an advance on an academic book is almost impossible. Even in the one case (I turned it down) where the publisher refused to improve their initial offer in any way they did not rescind it in response to my attempts to negotiate more copies. In another case I got both more free copies and slightly better royalties. What happened here would be like if I went to the market/bazaar/rynok and asked how much for a loaf of bread and then upon asking for a lower price the market woman refused to sell it to me at all. People haggle over everything in most of the world. Often the initial offer can’t be improved, but almost never is it rescinded in the face of a counter-offer.

Yankee Tourist to Middle Eastern rug merchant: How much for the kilim?

Merchant: For you my American friend only $500.

Yankee Tourist: That is too much I will give you $200.

Merchant: I am sorry I must rescind my original offer. I can not sell the kilim to you at any price. Please leave my shop.

You see how bizarre such behavior is in the bazaar?

The Other Prof Karen said...

1. At a school with severe salary compression, there may be no salary wiggle room. You have to tailor your request to the school. At my first job, going into a SLAC, I used data from their comparison schools to get a modest raise. Be really careful here.

2. If you know there's a low bar for tenure, you can speed it up, but in many cases at competitive SLACs, you'll want to reset it given the CV arms race. Rather than playing with your tenure clock, you should ask when you are on site what the options of going up early are. Early tenure bids are better as in some(but not all) places, if you fail an early bid, you can retry again on your regularschedule.

3. Get several estimates in writing and forward them to the provost. You can negotiate this after you accept the offer.

4. Certainly, if the school is usual or better in status and you aren't leaving under duress.

Anonymous said...

"And I had hoped to have sufficiently communicated my excitement."

You did not. When you write that "Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier," you immediately erase any excitement you wish to convey. That reads like you were not, in fact, excited about the job they offered, but were instead open to the possibility of a different job (one with more pay, less teaching, more leave time, and that started the following year). In my opinion, what sunk you was your offer to *consider* taking the job contingent on granting some of your requests. You phrased your email in such a way as to suggest that you were not considering the job they offered you, and would only consider the job if they met some of your demands (with no guarantee that, even if they met all your demands, you would take the job).

Despite what some here suggest, I don't think you come off as entitled. I do, however, think you were not excited about the job, or at the very least did a terrible job demonstrating what excitement you did feel. One thing people need to keep in mind is that many schools (especially small schools) are interested in people who want to work *for that school*, as opposed to someone who just wants a job. Nazareht knows - as many here have pointed out - that they are not a top choice out of the gate. I doubt many people went to grad school with dreams of working at Nazareth, or a place like Nazareth (though some have, I am sure). They want to find the people who want to work there, not the ones who will merely accept work there.

Anonymous said...

"They want to find the people who want to work there, not the ones who will merely accept work there."

There may be no such people. What makes them think there are?

Anonymous said...

When I came out on the market, with 70 letters, eliciting two post-cards of interest, one interview against an internal candidate that I beat out for a TT job--I have to say I dearly wanted, thirsted after, and then loved having a job teaching and writing philosophy, which has been my career.

The word "passion" has been appropriated far too often to even have much meaning anymore. But I had it, got lucky, and am grateful for what I have.

That passion now works in favor of institutions (and thanks to for-profits for accelerating capitalistic forces for privates and publics) unfortunately, and so the loads of slavish adjuncts. Shame on all of us that that happened.

No shame for the passion for philosophy itself. No shame at all. Too bad it is mined for the ends of profit and exploitation.

Anonymous said...

"There may be no such people. What makes them think there are?"

Those people exist.

Spend time with people who teach at those schools. I'm not saying all of them are happy, but many of them are.

It's possible to do some wonderful work at such schools. Honestly, I love the fact that I teach at a small school without a graduate program. I've never met an undergrad half as needy as the average grad student. I enjoy teaching non-majors, and helping them see how philosophy is useful to their majors and their lives, as more than just an academic exercise. I enjoy being part of the community, which is far more satisfying than the circle jerk of most academic communities.

I teach at a small school, with a small program, and a small core of dedicated faculty. I'm so much happier here than I ever was in my Leiter-ranked PhD program, worrying about getting published in the right journal and getting noticed by the right superstar at conferences.

Anonymous said...

2:14,

"When you write that 'Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier,' you immediately erase any excitement you wish to convey. That reads like you were not, in fact, excited about the job they offered, but were instead open to the possibility of a different job (one with more pay, less teaching, more leave time, and that started the following year)."

The problem with her negation strategy was that she came off as open to the possibility of taking a different job? Really?

"I am definitely coming! Please give me more money?"
"I would not consider accepting any other job! Can I please have dental benefits maybe?"

Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to read through all of the comments, but I am a woman in the field who just finished negotiating with 2 SLACs for TT positions and wanted to quickly share my own experience. I tried VERY minimal negotiations - I (very gently - it was gender judo all the way) asked for a salary increase of 8% in one case and only 3% in another. In both cases, this moved the starting salary to just under $50k. I also asked that all of my moving expenses be covered (I'm moving within the States). That is all. In both cases, administrators were quite unhappy and acted shocked that a candidate would even try to negotiate. Both resulted in very slight (in one case, very reluctant) salary increases and an agreement to cover what will amount to a little more than half of my moving expenses. If I hadn't had a second offer, I have the impression I would not have had any success in negotiation at all. I have also, I should note, heard of cases aside from W's where offers have been rescinded. Consequently, in both cases, I waited until offers were in contract form to negotiate. I would definitely recommend negotiating and think what happened to W is awful - I would just move with significant caution unless you're negotiating with an R1/a wealthy SLAC.

Anonymous said...

2:14

I find it impressive that you know that W didn't communicate her excitement in earlier exchanges, given that you haven't seen those exchanges. I wish knowledge came so easily to me!

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of attention here on what the candidate did wrong (correct answer: nothing). And not at all enough discussion on just how disastrously bad this is for a hiring institution to do (including the real chance for law suits).

I see and disagree with many arguments that she did it wrong, including from academics (see also Cedar Riener's blog post). She's described as unprepared and unreasonable. As best as I can tell she did nothing wrong at all.

Arguments range from salary expectations being unreasonable to putting in writing being bad and so forth. Frankly, that is all quite silly. The department can quite easily go back and stick to the original offer. And putting in writing makes things clear.

As for the actions of the college, which in my view actually is where the discussion should be:

There are conditions where a standing offer can sensibly be rescinded (the candidate was found to be deceptive during the interview and the offer was made under false pretenses etc). This case could not be further from that.

If this were me, I would very seriously consider suing. A job offer is not a vacuous act and is endowed with financial expectations. To rescind it based on, in fact rather sensible negotiation requests, is tantamount to treating that offer as vacuous.

In fact, my department indeed treats offers as serious legal matters. Clearly the college here does not.

The expectation voiced in the negotiations are not unreasonable at all. In fact, candidates should be strongly encouraged to try to negotiate their expectations. That doesn't mean that one can get them all, but one can and should surely ask. All of the things asked for are indeed offered at some academic institutions and for good reason, i.e. they are in that very sense not unreasonable at all.

To ask for a salary above the mean is not outrageous. One can ask. Perhaps one is indeed an exceptional candidate with extra market value. The college can come back and stick to their original offer without problems.

Sadly it appears that people do not sue enough in these circumstances, probably due to a fear of getting a reputation of being litigious. However that precisely allows inappropriate behavior to fester.

Lots of people say that if candidates repeat requests like W they are setting themselves up to fail. I disagree with this vehemently. I for one welcome exactly those kinds of candidates!

In fact we routinely see candidates who negotiate their offers, and I can tell you have I actually seen unreasonable requests. Even then that did not lead to a rescind (liabilities!). Usually unreasonable people don't take reasonable offers. Just stick with your reasonable offer and you will hire candidates who fit it.

All I can say is that if I'm in the field I would advise my PhDs to stay away from that college until evidence shows that their culture has been cleaned up. Why waste time and money interviewing at a place whose offers don't mean anything?

It seems to me that W may in a sense actually have gotten lucky not to get stuck at a department that cannot handle people asking for things while being ready to take a no.

Anonymous said...

As a former tenure track faculty member at this institution, I want to emphasize that W's experience is as much a product of issues internal to institution as anything else.

(I've only skimmed the comment thread, so I apologize if my subsequent comments duplicate others':)

At the very least the institution should be reflecting on what happened during the on campus interview that could have inspired the candidate to make such "outrageous" requests.

More importantly, PhD granting institutions should (already have been) include/ing formal mentoring on this topic in job seeker programs, which should include information like where to find salary ranges bench-marked to different kinds of institutions and disciplines.

A colleague made a valuable point (which is probably raised in the comment thread) that this entire episode-- both at that particularly institution and the broader discourse blaming the candidate (the "moralizing")-- is part of a broader trend of disempowering employees (in a corporate setting). This gets lost in the "should she/shouldn't she have [x]." Ironically, academics are always being berated to act more like corporate participants, and yet ...

And also OF COURSE gender is playing a role, from the chair's reaction all the way to the dean's and VPAA's.

Finally (and apologies also for going on so long), I's argue that a lot of the "she deserves it" responses are also about the speakers' desire to place the blame/responsibility on an individual who should have known better. It's easier then to distance themselves from the situation (they would never be so ill-informed; their knowledge would prevent this situation) and also to avoid recognizing the completely (and increasingly) arbitrary and unfair/unjust circumstances under which they/we frequently negotiate our working lives and conditions.

Anonymous said...

3/13, 9:24 pm: "I am quite confident that the withdrawal of the offer had nothing to do with the maternity leave request."

3/14, 3:48 pm: "As woman, I myself am dismayed at the rampant accusations of sexism on N's part. Sexism DOES exist in our profession, and it NEEDS to be addressed, but there is no evidence that N acted because of the maternity leave demand AT ALL. In fact, W even admitted that a semester long maternity leave is their unofficial policy."

3/14, 5:25 pm: "I too find it annoying to have this response labeled as sexist. There's no evidence whatsoever that the college was being sexist. They already have a policy to grant maternity leave."

etc.

I have no idea why people feel so confident that Nazareth's response had nothing to do with the request for maternity leave. And especially no idea why people think that the fact that a term off for maternity leave was apparently unofficial policy somehow proves that rescinding the offer has nothing to do with the request. The worry is not that Nazareth rescinded the offer because the institution is unwilling to grant a semester of maternity leave. The worry is that they rescinded the offer because by asking for maternity leave, W revealed to the department that she is likely to have a child and take that term off.

W said that she had discussed maternity leave with "someone" at the college, but it seems likely that this is the first time she has mentioned interest in having a child to someone in the department. As many people have pointed out re: the sabbatical request, the school has small staffing and large course loads. If W is taking time off, other people will likely need to cover what would have been her courses—significantly increasing the workloads of others in the department. It seems very plausible that this was a factor in the department's decision.

bill said...

I discussed this thread with my cousin, who is a semi-retired math professor at a small college. She laughed at the list of demands and said today's students are consumed with the sense that they are entitled. I can see that, in many of the comments that are "appalled" at the college's reaction. The most severe problem with this issue lies not in the emails or even the negotiations and rescission, but the fact that W felt the need to name the college. That in itself shows a profound lack of maturity and common sense.

bill said...

"Yankee Tourist to Middle Eastern rug merchant: How much for the kilim?

Merchant: For you my American friend only $500.

Yankee Tourist: That is too much I will give you $200.

Merchant: I am sorry I must rescind my original offer. I can not sell the kilim to you at any price. Please leave my shop.

You see how bizarre such behavior is in the bazaar?"

After reading that I have to reply. First off let me say that I am a closer. unlike Glengary Glenross, You don't have to lie and cheat to be a great closer. You do have to be a great negotiator. There is a reason salespeople are the highest paid employees of any industry. I am willing to bet whoever got N that 50 million is the highest paid employee of the college. Anyway your example is completely flawed. To make it even a little more like the actual situation, the Yankee Tourist would have to say. "Well I may be just a Yankee Tourist, but I happen know more about the price of rugs in this territory than you buster." "Tell you what I want YOU to do." "Throw in some dinner, a shoeshine and drop the price by a bunch and most importantly agree to have me move in and interact with all your employees who make less than me for the same amount of work, so I can snicker at them on a daily basis and show how much more I make than them thanks to you!" "Put it in writing and then I will find your offer EASIER to think about."

After that the Yankee Tourist crosses his arms and glares at the merchant.. all of the sudden...

Yankee Tourist: "Woah! Hey! Put down the sabre!"

Anonymous said...

Bill,

I don't see anything wrong with shaming an institution when they deserve it. Anonymity is important for many things but it is also responsible for the continuation of many forms of corruption. Nazareth's decision was made by many people in positions of power who thought W would just roll over. I, for one, am glad that she did not.

Anonymous said...

The "bazaar" example is, well, bizarre. It leaves out the fact that there were other people who wanted to buy the rug. Why would a merchant accept any counteroffer when there were people willing to buy it at asking price?

Anonymous said...

Bill,

You are making the strange mistake of (yet again) construing W as making a list of demands. Anyone who has ever negotiated should know that this is not what W was doing. Please stop construing W's list as a list of DEMANDS. They are not and never were. She has made it clear that she clearly flagged her intent to accept the job offer several times in previous e-mails. As someone who has either participated in or seen quite a few negotiations, I found nothing wrong with W's approach. Your reconstruction of the analogy is so uncharitable that I almost think you are not arguing in good faith.

Anonymous said...

The most severe problem with this issue lies not in the emails or even the negotiations and rescission, but the fact that W felt the need to name the college. That in itself shows a profound lack of maturity and common sense.

I confess, I had a similar thought. I'm not wedded to it (and in general try to approach these issues with a healthy dose of epistemic humility), but I do find it curious that there hasn't been more discussion about the fact that W shared emails and named the college.

Perhaps the fact that so much of the response has been negative towards W's email explains why no one felt the need to criticize W on this score. For my own part, I thought that Nazareth behaved poorly (even if they were justified in thinking that W was a poor fit). But I think W may have cast herself in a bad light by seemingly attempting to retaliate against Nazareth for having rescinded the offer.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see anything wrong with shaming an institution when they deserve it."

First off, it's not clear that they do deserve it. They were under no legal obligation to negotiate their offer.

But more importantly, by "shaming" the university, imagine the difficult position the person they do hire will be in. That person is starting his/her career knowing that they were the second-choice applicant. (Yes, this is true for many, but it's not common to publicly announce that fact.) Second, many here have felt comfortable assuming that the department/university must be a terrible place to work, a den of vipers, and at the very least hostile to new faculty and women in particular. The very short email exchange W provided is not nearly enough evidence to support such a characterization. (Similarly, it's not nearly enough information to paint W as entitled, out of touch, etc.)

The person they do hire is in a no-win situation. He/she will be assumed to be less qualified (by not being the first choice), a bad negotiator (as, clearly to some, the university will only hire those who won't negotiate), and will the subject of much gossip and speculation in a field that loves to tear down its own colleagues. That's a terrible way to start a career.

Naming the school was unprofessional, and can have a negative impact on others. I'm sorry to see that W's having done so will be praised by some as an act of courage. Courage comes from naming yourself, not outing others. Let her stand up publicly and take credit for her actions. Otherwise, she's a coward.

Anonymous said...

@701

Unless of course you live in the real world with real power differentials. Speaking truth to power doesn't have to mean that you commit suicide. Get out of the clouds for just one second. It might turn out that you are simply failing to empathize here. I'd be curious how many of W's supporters are in lower-power/less-secure faculty positions (on the market, adjuncts, lecturers, VAPS, or early-career tt professors who remember what it's like).

W, I hope you realize that many of us applaud you and shame Nazareth. I know you don't need that support to know that you did the right thing but, still, KUDOS.

bill said...

@5:49
My reconstruction of the analogy was not only far more concise in describing the demands, counter-offers, stipulations, provisos, or whatever else you care to call them. (Based on the TONE of the email I choose to call them demands.) My reconstruction was trying to inject humor into an issue that deserved it. Sure I exaggerated haughtiness, but I did add the many points our original analogy maker failed to provide.

Also, I just read a comment that points out the most important fact, which I completely missed.

The Yankee Tourist wasn't the only customer in the store. Johnny Gotbucks was waving a cool five hundred dollars in the merchants face exclaiming "I'm your huckleberry!"

So now the merchant has to decide... does he want to haggle with Yankee Tourist, while Johnny Gotbucks walks out the door?

No, of course not.

So, in closing, I have to say there are many lessons to be learned here, which is why I was so drawn to the discussion.

Here is what I learned and I am 58 years old and have negotiated thousands of deals face to face.
1. Never negotiate via email.
2. Do your homework on the target
3. If you ask for more, justify it somehow.
4. Read that handbook someone mentioned that is published by Harvard on negotiating for a position fresh out of school.
5. An offer can be rescinded anytime, right up to the moment you accept it.
6. How you go about your negotiations can cause the employer to rescind the offer.
7. Naming the institution, along with the email they sent was very unprofessional.
8. Don't send an email to your prospective employer warning them that you are going to turn from Dr Jeckyll to Mr Hyde in the next email.
9. Don't do the Dr Jeckyll/Mr Hyde thing. It tends to scare people.

Anonymous said...

This has been mentioned above, but I think it's worth emphasizing: a good strategy for starting a negotiation is to simply ask whether there is any flexibility in the terms of the offer. Though it's not always the case, some institutions will expect you to negotiate and will be prepared with better terms if they can offer them. If you get a firm "no", you don't have to risk upsetting anyone with specific requests.

At my institution (a public school with a 2/2 but no graduate program), I began by asking this very general question, and the chair immediately responded with a better offer--without my mentioning any specifics and without consulting the dean (he said he had been pre-authorized with a certain amount of negotiating power). I was offered a small but meaningful bump in salary (3%, which is exactly what I would have asked for if I had been prompted to name a number), and a considerable bump in startup (100%, which was also what I was hoping for).

The chair indicated that this was the ceiling for the starting salary (and I was not interested in playing hardball), but since he didn't make the same claim regarding the startup, I detected further flexibility, and was able to get it bumped up to 200% of the original offer, by providing an explanation of how I would use the additional funds (this took a day or so to get approved by the dean). I also asked about moving expenses, but their policy was strict on that.

The negotiations were mostly conducted over the phone, and were extremely friendly. I did have a small amount of leverage, because I was still under consideration for another job (though I preferred the one I was offered), so I could have drawn the process out to see if that progressed, but I never actually had to mention this during the negotiation.

YMMV, but it's worth a try, particularly if you have no leverage, or want to see if you can get what you want/need without coming off as demanding.

Anonymous said...

Jaded PhD is right. The almost pathological need to moralize and render judgment displayed on this thread are staggering.

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