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A Few Thoughts on a Graceful Exit

Every academic leader dreads the next few weeks: resignation season. Contracts are out, but so are offers to job applicants. Nothing creates fear in administrators during these final weeks of the semester quite like the request for a meeting with no explanation or obvious reason. Late-semester resignations mean either quick searches or one-year appointments, or worse yet, overloads for existing personnel.

As a dean, I’ve always appreciated resignations that have been handled well. The person has been upfront and has tried to give us as much lead time as possible. In some cases, there has been an offer of assistance in jump-starting a search or even in teaching a course over the summer to smooth the transition.

Nothing is quite as discouraging as an ill-conceived departure, especially when colleagues are being left behind at a troubled unit or institution. No need to brag about higher pay or lower teaching loads. No need to torch individuals left behind. No need to create a foul taste in the mouths of soon-to-be former colleagues.

What advice would you offer to folks who are in the process of exiting an institution?

[Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user Kalleboo.]

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