The last couple of years my department has seen an outflux of good faculty and a (semi-related) massive amount of unnecessary cost-cutting. There have been a lot of reasons for leaving, but poor leadership, focus, and initiatives have driven good faculty to just say ‘’screw it” and leave. Most have gone to industry where the pay is high and the hours are better, but others have taken this as an opportunity to swap schools. The vibe on campus is definitely different now than it was when I started, and I’m not liking the way things are headed. I know things can change based on the next set of leadership that comes through, but what doesn’t bode well is that the state overall (and the populous within it) is demonstrating to us that higher education (and education overall) is less important. This is not great for me as a university employee and my little one as they will have to enter this failing school system at some point. It makes me less optimistic about the future here.
So I started putting feelers out for areas I can transfer to that align well with how I think a school and state should be run. Four months ago, a school in a very nice area of the country with a highly educated populous and a vision for an education focus approached me about an open position. This is in a state that has had a track-record of caring about universities from more than a sports perspective and a school that is established, but a department that is still establishing themselves. And the city itself has a lot of activities that mesh well with everything we do in our spare time. After a little back-and-forth about start-up, salary, and the service they’re asking from me (leading a new institute they started that I’m pretty well suited to lead), we agreed on a package that is pleasant enough for me to leave my current position. We set up my SO with a wonderful position that will allow them to work on exactly what they have been wanting to work on, as well.
I’m graduating three students in May, and I let the remaining students know that I would be transferring in September and negotiated relocation packages for all four of them that wanted to come. So far, they all seem to be okay with relocating, and I feel like kind of an asshole for springing this on them, but I think this is the better move both professionally and personally. The new school also has some amazing core and testing facilities and collaborators that will make my next grants very shiny.
When I told my department head they put together a competitive counteroffer, but I just don’t believe in the path that my state and university has set us on. The new department has some growing to do and I’m looking forward to arguing about how to grow properly. During my campus visit it was a foreign experience to be surrounded by optimistic faculty that have exciting ideas and energy to match. I’m pretty excited about this, and looking forward to the change. I never thought I would be making this move so soon, and this seems a little rash for what is most likely a temporary situation, but this new school actually does seem greener.