Not long ago I considered some general issues related to faculty moving to other institutions, but consider the following specific situation of an FSP reader who e-mailed me:
- in final year of tenure-track; file to be submitted this summer
- reasonably confident of getting tenure
- salary low relative to peers in department despite (self-described) stronger record of grants & publications (did not negotiate when position started; has not brought up salary issue while an assistant professor)
- thinks there may be more opportunities to collaborate at other universities
- but: overall generally happy at current institution
Questions from my reader:
1. Should I let my colleagues know that I am unhappy about my salary and want to move?
2. Should I let my colleagues know that I want to move all all? or should I keep it to myself?
3. When I apply for new positions, should I apply for an Assistant Professor position or I am limited to associate professor positions?
4. If I move, can I take my lab equipment with me if I bought them from my grants?
5. What will happen to my graduate students? Can I ask them to move with me?
The answers to the first two questions depend a lot on some unknowns: How likely is it that you will get another offer in the next year? Do you have one or more trusted colleagues in your department in whom you could confide? Is there a way you can bring up the issue of your salary dissatisfaction with your chair, in an exploratory way at least? (assuming there is not a salary freeze at your institution). Do you know whether promotion typically comes with a significant raise? (at some institutions it does not, but it's worth checking). If you got a significant raise, would you stay or are you determined to leave because you think you will have better research opportunities elsewhere?
Getting another offer might be your only way to get a significant raise, but you should be prepared to take that offer if your current university fails to provide an appealing counter-offer.
If you apply for other jobs, you can decide whether you are interested in positions that are advertised at the Assistant Professor level, and, if it becomes relevant, later explore the possibility of being hired with tenure or coming up for tenure within the first year or two, if that seems like a reasonable thing to request given the tenure standards. Or, if you only want to consider positions that come with tenure, you can confine your search to positions that are open at that level. Note that some departments will also consider hiring at the Associate Professor level without tenure, but evaluate for tenure within ~2 years of hiring. This doesn't help you avoid going through the tenure process (perhaps for the second time), but the more senior title signals recognition of your accomplishments, and may make a tenureless move more palatable.
If you move, you can take equipment with you if it was purchased from a grant. There may be some exceptions depending on the details of your grants and your institution's policies, but these are things that can be discussed and negotiated.
Re. graduate students, there are various options, depending on their preferences and how deep they are into the graduate program. It may work best for them to (1) remain where they are (remotely advised by you, perhaps with some visits back and forth), (2) switch advisers, or (3) move with you. You can ask them to move with you, but be prepared to find a solution for them at your current institution if that is best for them.
That's my advice, but I posted these questions here because I think a range of answers might be very useful, and I hope that others will chime in with other advice and comments, even if some of it is conflicting. Conflicting advice can help you see which issues have the widest range of possibilities, even if the variable advice makes the situation seem more confusing.
7 months ago