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Author Topic: An offer straight into the poorhouse  (Read 4732 times)
starfleet_grad
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« on: September 03, 2007, 10:46:48 pm »

I recently found an ad for a T-T job at a university on the West Coast that in many respects could be considered my dream job if not for the salary. In terms of numbers, I live in an area where the cost-of-living index is around 90, and the university is in an area where it's around 160. At the same time, the salary they offer is 35% below what I am making now, and according to CNN Money, they would have to offer me 2.5 times as much as they do now if I wanted to maintain my current lifestyle. I'm going to pass on this job, but I still wonder how these universities can get away with such offers? Has it become so much of a buyer's market that some applicants are willing to accept anything? Or is this a hint that they're looking for a single person fresh out of grad school whom they can abuse for six years and then spit out?
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icurhere2
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2007, 10:57:54 pm »

Has it become so much of a buyer's market that some applicants are willing to accept anything?

In some fields, this is close to true.

Or is this a hint that they're looking for a single person fresh out of grad school whom they can abuse for six years and then spit out?

Generally, no - if the cost of living is so out-of-whack, the institution generally has to run repeated searches well before a tenure year; it was a major cause of turnover at my former, coastal institution.  Searching (and failing) and searching again is itself very expensive and time consuming.

One thing to note - more institutions have implemented limited faculty / staff housing for junior employees in exceedingly high cost areas.  My institution in a low-cost area even has faculty / staff housing.
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minorleaguer
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2007, 11:18:33 pm »

Clearly you are spending too much money on fancy cars.  You probably drive a Toyota - way too fancy.
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starfleet_grad
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2007, 11:24:00 pm »

Quote
You probably drive a Toyota - way too fancy.

I can only dream of a Toyota. My car is actually 10 years old, but it gets 34 miles to the gallon.
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I'm a teacher, Jim, not a customer service representative.
larryc
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2007, 11:27:13 pm »

Is this a good place to mention how ten years ago we paid $48k for a solid house that needed only moderate work in a charming walkable community in the Midwest? No?

Yeah, the schools in high-cost areas are in a tough position. I wonder how long until they hire telecommuting professors who actually live in other parts of the country? I am available.
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I can be happy anywhere I have a little money and the cops aren't after me--I'm still searching for this place.
mintyfresh
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2007, 8:01:50 am »

I recently found an ad for a T-T job at a university on the West Coast that in many respects could be considered my dream job if not for the salary. In terms of numbers, I live in an area where the cost-of-living index is around 90, and the university is in an area where it's around 160. At the same time, the salary they offer is 35% below what I am making now, and according to CNN Money, they would have to offer me 2.5 times as much as they do now if I wanted to maintain my current lifestyle. I'm going to pass on this job, but I still wonder how these universities can get away with such offers? Has it become so much of a buyer's market that some applicants are willing to accept anything? Or is this a hint that they're looking for a single person fresh out of grad school whom they can abuse for six years and then spit out?

I'm in a similar position to you.  Last year, the City University of New York system advertised several TT jobs (in history), but the top of the salary grade for assistant professors is approx. $61,000 (with a 4/4 teaching load in most cases).  It would be very, very, very difficult to live in NYC on this salary--what with rent for studio apartments nearing (and exceeding) $1,000 (even in Queens); student loan payments; city wage taxes, etc.  This year, a couple of schools in the Cal State system in attractive locations are advertising jobs.  After some digging, I found out that the top salary for assistant profs is about the same--roughly $59,000 to $60,000.  Both the CUNY and Cal State systems are unionized.  I am pro-union and would like to work in a unionized system, but not when they can't offer salaries that jibe with the cost of living in the area.

I've discovered that the CUNY schools (and I suspect Bay Area schools) have been able to get pretty far on the "but people want to live in NYC" angle.

I think I'll save myself the dossier fee and the postage and not even apply to CUNY or Cal State jobs.

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trabb
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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2007, 8:15:59 am »

I have two things to add to this conversation.  First, don't count these schools out until you actually interview and find out the details.  I interviewed with one of the Cal State schools, and though I wasn't offered a campus visit, they assured me during my screening interview that if I did get a campus visit, they'd have someone talk with me about the housing situation.  They strongly hinted that they are aware of the problem and that they have ways of giving support for housing.

Second, if you're offered a job at one of these schools and turn it down, tell them why, especially if it's about the money.  It's true that there are people who will work for the money they're offering.  However, departments want to get their first choices - not the tenth choice who will prostitute himself for the paltry sums they offer.  Being able to repeat over and over to administrators that "we can't get our top choices because we're not paying enough" is at least a small step in the right direction.
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innyc
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2007, 9:01:49 am »

I recently found an ad for a T-T job at a university on the West Coast that in many respects could be considered my dream job if not for the salary. In terms of numbers, I live in an area where the cost-of-living index is around 90, and the university is in an area where it's around 160. At the same time, the salary they offer is 35% below what I am making now, and according to CNN Money, they would have to offer me 2.5 times as much as they do now if I wanted to maintain my current lifestyle. I'm going to pass on this job, but I still wonder how these universities can get away with such offers? Has it become so much of a buyer's market that some applicants are willing to accept anything? Or is this a hint that they're looking for a single person fresh out of grad school whom they can abuse for six years and then spit out?

I'm in a similar position to you.  Last year, the City University of New York system advertised several TT jobs (in history), but the top of the salary grade for assistant professors is approx. $61,000 (with a 4/4 teaching load in most cases).  It would be very, very, very difficult to live in NYC on this salary--what with rent for studio apartments nearing (and exceeding) $1,000 (even in Queens); student loan payments; city wage taxes, etc.  This year, a couple of schools in the Cal State system in attractive locations are advertising jobs.  After some digging, I found out that the top salary for assistant profs is about the same--roughly $59,000 to $60,000.  Both the CUNY and Cal State systems are unionized.  I am pro-union and would like to work in a unionized system, but not when they can't offer salaries that jibe with the cost of living in the area.

I've discovered that the CUNY schools (and I suspect Bay Area schools) have been able to get pretty far on the "but people want to live in NYC" angle.

I think I'll save myself the dossier fee and the postage and not even apply to CUNY or Cal State jobs.


I'm sure you're making the right decision for yourself, but I'd be careful to check the data.  The highest end of the salary scale for assistant professors in the CUNY system is $71,000, not $61,000--not that a new assistant professor would be able to negotiate the very top end--and the contractual teaching load is 3/4.  At several of the senior colleges (not all) it is customarily (though not contractually) dropped to 3/3 for all faculty.  New tenure-track faculty get an additional course reduction per year until tenure, so they're on a 2/3 the first 6-7 years.  And in many departments it is fairly simple for advanced faculty to get down to 2/3 and 2/2 loads with service to department or programs.  Still may not be what you're looking for, though.  And the city is expensive.
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aandsdean
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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2007, 9:58:43 am »

Back in the mid-90s, I had an interview at SF State--a job that in some ways I would have really loved.

Then, when there, I checked out the local alternative newspapers (I had some extra time because they wanted me to stay over a Saturday night), and discovered that it would cost as much to buy a parking space as it did to buy my house in Iowa.

I didn't get the offer, and I'm quite glad, because if I had I would have taken it, and would now be living in a tent next to a dump somewhere in South San Francisco.
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starfleet_grad
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2007, 10:04:58 am »

Just to clarify, the job I'm talking about offers an annual salary that begins with a 3.
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I'm a teacher, Jim, not a customer service representative.
aandsdean
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2007, 10:10:14 am »

Just to clarify, the job I'm talking about offers an annual salary that begins with a 3.

You should be able to manage nicely on $300,000.

(!)
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Que scay-je?
pink_
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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2007, 10:17:10 am »

I went to grad school in CA, and I'm not sure how I would have survived had I not had two things:

1) parents who loved me enough to pay for car insurance and any kind of health care I required (thankfully, there were no major issues over the years)

2) a rent-stabilized apartment where I got in relatively cheaply and then the landlords could only up my rent about $25 a year.  I lived there for 9 years. 

If I had to pay the current rents out there and cover my own insurance, I would have been very, very deep into the red by the time I graduated. 

As a corollary, I don't know how new faculty are ablt to manage.  I got a job in the SE, where cost of living is about half what I am accustomed to.  Even so, with all the costs of moving, I am barely breaking even.  I can't even fathom doing it the other way around.

Yikes.
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mittens
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« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2007, 10:45:47 am »

Over the last few years I've looked into three different advertised CSU positions.  On the surface they seemed like a perfect fit, but the financial side of things always ended up looking awful.

I'm in the early years of the tenure track in a small and very inexpensive town, and to take a CSU position in one of the most expensive parts of the country I would have to sacrifice at least 15% of salary.  No matter how I run the numbers, they just don't work out.  After looking into these kinds of things, I've come to appreciate my little town a little more.

Starfleetgrad: I've never even heard of a tt salary in CA under $40K.  These things exist?
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jonesey
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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2007, 11:12:12 am »

Starfleetgrad: I've never even heard of a tt salary in CA under $40K.  These things exist?

They do; it's why I left California after grad school. 

Private schools, many CCs, start at around $38,500/year for a tt slot.  I'm talking Humanities fields, not Business or Medicine or anything.  Still, most of California is out of reach.  I worked for a corporation making mid $50s before moving and I couldn't afford anything.  Oh, and I was in one of the "cheaper" markets...where the average home price is $400K.

Real estate has been ridiculous in California for many years.  Even with the current bubble bursting, prices are still way out or whack withe the rest of the country (outside of, say, NYC). 
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mintyfresh
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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2007, 11:46:38 am »

I recently found an ad for a T-T job at a university on the West Coast that in many respects could be considered my dream job if not for the salary. In terms of numbers, I live in an area where the cost-of-living index is around 90, and the university is in an area where it's around 160. At the same time, the salary they offer is 35% below what I am making now, and according to CNN Money, they would have to offer me 2.5 times as much as they do now if I wanted to maintain my current lifestyle. I'm going to pass on this job, but I still wonder how these universities can get away with such offers? Has it become so much of a buyer's market that some applicants are willing to accept anything? Or is this a hint that they're looking for a single person fresh out of grad school whom they can abuse for six years and then spit out?

I'm in a similar position to you.  Last year, the City University of New York system advertised several TT jobs (in history), but the top of the salary grade for assistant professors is approx. $61,000 (with a 4/4 teaching load in most cases).  It would be very, very, very difficult to live in NYC on this salary--what with rent for studio apartments nearing (and exceeding) $1,000 (even in Queens); student loan payments; city wage taxes, etc.  This year, a couple of schools in the Cal State system in attractive locations are advertising jobs.  After some digging, I found out that the top salary for assistant profs is about the same--roughly $59,000 to $60,000.  Both the CUNY and Cal State systems are unionized.  I am pro-union and would like to work in a unionized system, but not when they can't offer salaries that jibe with the cost of living in the area.

I've discovered that the CUNY schools (and I suspect Bay Area schools) have been able to get pretty far on the "but people want to live in NYC" angle.

I think I'll save myself the dossier fee and the postage and not even apply to CUNY or Cal State jobs.


I'm sure you're making the right decision for yourself, but I'd be careful to check the data.  The highest end of the salary scale for assistant professors in the CUNY system is $71,000, not $61,000--not that a new assistant professor would be able to negotiate the very top end--and the contractual teaching load is 3/4.  At several of the senior colleges (not all) it is customarily (though not contractually) dropped to 3/3 for all faculty.  New tenure-track faculty get an additional course reduction per year until tenure, so they're on a 2/3 the first 6-7 years.  And in many departments it is fairly simple for advanced faculty to get down to 2/3 and 2/2 loads with service to department or programs.  Still may not be what you're looking for, though.  And the city is expensive.

I was a finalist for two different jobs at senior colleges in the CUNY system and one CC in the CUNY system over the last 5 years (pre- and post- new contract negotiations).  With my years of full-time teaching experience (much of it in the CUNY system), I was told that I would command the top salary for an assistant prof. in the humanities--$61,000.  The schools I interviewed at also had 5/4 and 4/4 teaching loads, and they were so understaffed that no one was taking the course releases. 

That being said, I'm glad I wasn't offered any of those jobs  because they would have been tough to turn down, even though I wouldn't have been able to survive on the salary as a single person with mountains of debt. 
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