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ACLS New Faculty Fellows 2011-2012 UPDATES

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Previous posts on ACLS New Faculty Fellows program from 2011-12 Humanities and Social Sciences Postdocs page: LINK.

LINK to ACLS site: http://www.acls.org/programs/newfaculty/


ACLS NFF Updates and Queries (after January 19, 2012)Edit

Everyone ready for the webinar? What questions do people have to ask?

So during the Q&A, there was some mention that a few schools have converted or are in the midst of converting fellows to TT positions. (The number 10-12 was mentioned.) One of the admins said there was information out there about what schools are doing this. Anyone know what schools might be doing this or have any idea what schools are likely to?

As far as I can tell, it's not much different from the common practice of hiring a VAP for 1 or 2 years while waiting for the budgetary green light to make a TT hire, and meanwhile to encourage the VAP to apply for th TT job (sometimes hiring them, sometimes not). The schools likely to dangle an eventual TT job in front of you are the ones where you'll be filling an important gap that they just haven't been able to fill yet. I'm not sure any of the schools are merely converting the positions; from what I understand, they still have to do a search. So yes, the prospect of a TT opening in two years is a perk you should take seriously in weighing your offers (if you think it's a place you would like to stay), and worth asking about if they don't bring it up, but I would never consider it a promise.

Did the webinar today (Monday, 1/23) address if at this point schools can become hosting institutions if they are not currently listed as participating? I am scheduled for the Thursday webinar due to a campus interview, but I am considering sharing with the selection committee that I was preliminarily selected for this fellowship in part, because as a more peripheral candidate for this particular job, I think they might be interested in me and know they are trying to create a TT in my field in the next two years. Advice? I also don't want to give them an excuse not to offer me the TT if they are tied between candidates.

This was not addressed directly, but I am virtually certain no schools beyond the 49 listed in the FAQ can get themselves added to the list and offer the fellowship. I also don't understand your question. Was this a TT job you interviewed for? If so, the school can't offer change the position to and ACLS postdoc instead of a TT. No way that would fly (or should).
Thank you for the information. It is a TT that I interviewed for but I am more of a long-shot candidate who fits in a field they want to develop a few years for now, and might have a lecturer position in. I would take the TT in a heartbeat and echo your sentiments that they shouldn't convert a TT to this, even if they could. I didn't know if they would be eligible to become an ACLS participant at this point in the process, which you clarified. It seems like SLACs joined later in the process last year, judging by the 2010-11 wiki, motivating my original question. Thanks.
On Monday they told us there would be no SLACs participating this year.

Today (1/31) is the day our dossiers go live, right? Good luck, everyone!​ (x4)

When they were discussing negotiating intangibles in the webinars, did they mention any beyond subsidized housing, like technology, e.g. software and computers? My webinar didn't mention anything & I didn't think to ask. No offers yet, just pondering the possibilities.

-This may often be included in the research allowance.
I assume it's up to the schools who administer our research funds to decide how and on what we can spend them? Presumably the school may allow us to be eligible for other research/travel awards typically offered to faculty...

Has anybody heard anything or gotten any queries? (2/2)

-Too early, I'd say. Don't expect anything until next week at the earliest.
-I know for sure that at least two big state schools start at the dean's level and then distribute names to different departments (and then interviews and back to the dean's office for final approval). May take some time before we hear from schools.
-Yes (2/3) x2 (2/6)
-From 2 schools on 2/3 and 2/6

Are recipients notifying the search committees of TT searches that you recieved this fellowship?

-No. I don't see why it would matter or why the committees would care. (IT's not like there's any competition between them.) And if it's at a school that's one of the 49 on the list, they'll learn anyway.

First contact made, asked for campus visit later in the month, things are happening!

For those who have been contacted: would you mind specifying your discipline?

  • First contacts today, a campus visit and another expression of interest. (Philosophy)(2/7)
  • First contact on 2/7, campus visit or skype, East Asian history
  • First contact on 2/7, skype, history
  • First contact 2/6, Anthropology
  • Phone interview request 2/6, English
  • Still nothing...(2/9-2/12) (x5)
  • All we need is one OFFER. Wait a little longer...
  • First contacts on 2/11, 1 campus visit and 1 skype, Communication
  • First contact on 2/13, 1 skype, History
  • Contacts 2 skype interviews, History (2/13)
  • First contact, Skype interview request, English (2/13)
  • First contact (History), 2/13
  • First contact, French, phone interview request (2/15). (x2), Another in French, phone interview request (2/16)
  • Contact, History 2x16
  • Request of phone interview (2/22) Some schools seem to be running behind...
  • Phone interview request (2/20) and campus visit request (2/22). Some schools are just now reaching out.

How are you discussing and interpreting the search committees' statements around future possibilities of TT options, including plans for "conversion" from the ACLS postdoc into an offer? Presuming that I audition well over the two years and my work fits their hiring line, I am trying to realistically weigh this possibility, all the while knowing no promises can ethically be made, particularly as the institutions with the best intentions cannot control future budget cuts and the politicized process. All options are public R1s: I am vetting their departmental and university strategic plans, as well as trying to see if previous postdocs (of any source) have gained TT, and trying to glean how the schools went about nation-wide searches. Any other suggestions? It feels so presumptuous to be thinking of this, especially with the scarcity of the regular market! xoxo ACLS!

The more I've been thinking about the prospect of a T-T coming as a result of the position the more I am thinking it is less important of a consideration. Even if they are likely to look for someone in your field next year or the year after, they're still going to do a national search, right?

This is a different issue: has anyone been contacted with an expression of interest (but not for an interview) and after reciprocating waiting several days (and counting) for further follow up from the institution? Is it best to just sit tight and assume they will make further contact if they want to pursue things further? Is it too pushy to ask what is going on?

I've had a similar experience. An email dialogue has now gone cold. I'm trying not to read too much into it, but it has me concerned. My plan is to wait until the March 1-11 window and hope that I officially hear from them at that time. I won't contact them again (unless I hear back) for fear of being too pushy.

On the same topic, can we ask explicitly if the school can make a commitment (in writing) to convert a postdoc into a T-T?

This is a comment from a current ACLS New Faculty Fellow (awarded last year): first of all, no school will make a formal commitment to turn your postdoc into a TT position. Why would they? Obviously they will want to see how things work out. Also, this is not necessarily desirable from your perspective either. I know right now you probably feel desperate, as though you would be happy to have any secure position, but believe me, you need to wait until you are at a place and see what it's like. You will not know until you are there, and from the outside it might look great, but it could turn out to be very different from what you think- and you are likely to have other job prospects after a two-year stint of teaching, with more time to publish, etc.

Thanks for that insight (above). It's hard not to feel desparate but I think that's good advice -- to wait and see. Unfortunately, one feels compelled to weight the possibility of a tenure track opportunity more heavily than other criteria when weighing competing offers (or at least that's how I'm feeling). The folks from the ACLS urged us to be "strategic" in our choices. That said, I'm also feeling like the option of having greater latitude in the courses I teach and the freedom to not feel like I'm auditioning for 2 years is worth a lot in terms of peace of mind, and in terms of one's ability to focus purely on teaching and publishing.
I'm conflicted, too. But having done an adjunct stint for a year, I also feel like being considered transient and expendable is not good for your pysche either. Possibile TT conversion means they are serious about you, which is a good thing. I'd rather go to parties and workshops and get to know people rather than not invited.
And if all the social mingling leads to something tangiable, that is great. If not, c'est la vie.

-- I have no dog in this fight (I'm just following becuase I'm curious), but I would second the above poster's attitude. Asking about a TT job now might make you look needy or presumptuous...? Looking at how we've treated our VAPs and post-docs, I'd say that you have plenty of time to get the department interested in retaining you once you're actually there. As for moving to a different post after the NFF VAP is done, I do personally know someone who made that transition and is really, really happy at the TT job that is not at the same place as the NFF VAP....probably happier there. After all, if the school does a TT search, it's because they specifically set out to want someone in your field, not through the convoluted NFF VAP system, which may not as closely match the needs of the host institution as well as the typical TT job search. Just my two cents, but keep in mind that this VAP will make you so much more desirable in the next two years on the market, so you may end up having an even better offer than a TT at the NFF host institution.

-But honestly, it seems odd to me to turn down a very good chance at a T-T: it is well-known that Rutgers is telling NFFs that it will guarentee that postdocs are made into TTs after the 2 years if the department asks. Guaranteed. 5 of their 7 NFFs from 2010 have been converted into TTs already. (At least one has a TT elsewhere.) What to do with this information?

--I'm also wondering what to make of the precedent set by Rutgers with the 2010 cohort. I wonder what the deal is with those who went there in 2011. were they lured to go there with the carrot as well? Was the miraculous turn of event a one-time thing?

--Do schools get in touch with us when they decide not to extend an offer? Do they send rejection emails after March 1? I've been doing competitive interviews and it's starting to feel like a regular TT job hunt.

  • I doubt they would send rejections, because most schools will move down the list if their top pick(s) say no. At one school, a dean explained this explicitly -- although I'm sure different schools do things differently....

--->That makes sense! Thank you!.

  • Sounds like some folks are getting a lot of attention. Anyone not hear much yet? I'm starting to get a little nervous (History). ----->Don't be nervous (easier said than done, I know), it's early yet and schools that have told me that they'll be in touch casually (and will be) are still funneling things through the system. Also, don't forget, they have until March 11th to make an offer, that's three more weeks. Think of all the anxiety we have ahead of us! Save it up. = )
  • Just a clarification: my understanding is that the schools can ONLY make offers b/w March 1 and March 11, rather than that they can make an offer any time up to March 11. Does that sound correct? So in theory the whole process of schools moving down their lists, whether to extend offers to people they have interviewed/talked to during February or to try to do further interviews/conversations during the March 1-11 period or to just make cold offers, will only start happening once March 1 is upon us. If this is the case I've been wondering what happens during that March 1-11 period if you get an offer from one place but still have not heard back from some other (say, if you had more than one expression of interest). Is it just like a normal process of dealing with an offer while not having perfect information about the status of one's place in other searches? Or is it that awardees also cannot accept any offer until after March 11?
  • In reference to the prior comment: it was my understanding from the webinar that we can accept an offer as soon as we receive it (so, hypothetically, you could accept a position as soon as March 1, though that of course is unlikely to occur). I also got the sense from the webinar that the folks at the ACLS were strongly encouraging us not to wait around until the 11th to see how many offers we get before making a decision. From what I remember, they suggested accepting an offer early if it was attractive (and also rejecting competing offers early). The logic here (I think) is that these early decisions enable schools to move down their lists or pursue other candidates. Obviously, this raises the question of how long we should wait around for other offers once we receive our first (3 days? 5 days?), or whether we should contact schools that we've been in contact with once we receive an offer. It's looking like that 10-day period is just going to be crazy for everyone involved--I'm happy that I'll be on spring break that week.

Anyone else out there still waiting for contact? (x2)

Do you think schools will extend offers without having ever made first contact? Does anyone know if this has actually happened in the past?

--> During the webinar, they did say that there had been "cold offers" in the past, though they did not specify their frequency.

  • Based on previous years' wikis and what I've heard, lots of people get these, especially toward the end of the offer period. Some schools, if their first choice accepts elsewhere, will try their second choice and so on.
  • An ACLS fellow from last year told me that all of the Universities of California did cold offers. Don't know if that's true this year....
  • I got contacted by a UC campus and did an interview. But, it seemed like they had already made a decision and just wanted to get a sense, which means that it is very likely that the UCs don't do interviews to decide on their picks (i.e., traditional postdoc selection process)
    • I don't think we can assume that all depts at all UCs do things identically. I had an interview with one and I think they were still comparing candidates. Some may also do cold offers, who knows.

--They also said no one in the last 2 years failed to get an offer. Don't sweat it. Folks in some fields are probably more likely to get offers than those in others. I think I've been contacted by a number of schools thus far because (I found out) that I am the only awardee this year in my field.


I'm curious if anyone know how many NFF offers each institution can give? A couple of departments have told me that they are making thier recommondation to the dean, but there is a limited number of offers the university can make, so the final decision is up to the dean's office. I can't wait for the waiting to be over!

  • they can offer as many as they want -- that is, as many as they decide they can afford. They have to provide benefits for each fellow, so we're not free.
  • Apparently at least some of the schools also cover part of the $50K, which helps to explain why they're limited in how many offers they can make. I was under the (apparently false) impression that ACLS provided the entire $50K...
    • Yes, it works out to about 2/3 ACLS, 1/3 host institution.
  • I was told by the chair of a department that I would be competing with nominees from other depts at the dean's level. (I didn't know we had to jump so many hurdles--selection by the PHD granting dept/by the school/ by ACLS/ by the employing dept/and finally by the dean).

--Tomorrow is March 1! I just wanted to reiterate what they said in the webinar and what people wrote on the wiki last year: I plan to turn down offers I don't plan to take asap so that schools can offer them to other ACLS candidates. Can we all agree to do the same?

Yes! (x6)

Offers (March 1 and forward)Edit

  • Official offer letter received (via email) 3/1 (x2)
  • Phone call immediately followed by official offer letter (email) received from excellent school. I love the ACLS! (3/1) (x2)
  • Offers from 3 schools I'd been in contact with (email); offer from 1 big name school out of the blue (email). (3/1)
  • Offer from 2 schools, plus one that informed me that the offer will be delayed in the Dean's office but will come. I already turned down the last one. Nothing out of the blue yet. (3/1)
  • 2 offers from schools I'd been in touch with, and 2 offers out of the blue (3/1)
  • Second official offer via e-mail (3/2)
  • 2 offers from schools I interviewed at; one offer out of the blue (3/2)
  • 1 offer out of the blue (3/5)

Question: Is an offer officially an offer before the signed letter of offer arrives? I want to make my decision soon for everyone's sake, but don't want to turn down my second choice until I know things are squared away and the ACLS notified (among other things, I'm not sure they will recognize an e-mail offer as binding, even with an unsigned version of the letter). Does anyone have thoughts?

  • That's a good question. I received 2 offers by e-mail (with a pdf of the letter of appointment); only one of the schools followed by sending a hard copy of the letter, and there was no indication that the other school would be doing the same. I'm assuming that the pdf version of the letter is official enough for everyone's sake, but I agree that it's probably worth making sure. I would email the folks at the ACLS and ask about protocol.
    • Thanks! I did just e-mail them. I'll relay any info that might be valuable to others.
      • To follow up on this, any offer, however made, is considered valid and binding by the ACLS. No need to wait for signatures to notify the department, the ACLS and competing offers of your decision.

Any one else worried about rejecting schools too quickly for fear of offending them (ie. suggesting you never took their interest seriously)? What about rejecting schools before they send an official offer? -- I have one that sent an email/called but have yet to send a letter. What about rejecting schools that are still deciding? --I have two that said they wouldn't make their decisions for a few more days, but I already know I'm unlikely to take the positions if offered......

-Seems to me what's important here is to write a very good rejection email. (We should all know what this looks like by now!) Remember, you've been developing a relationship with that department and they may have a permamnent position down the line. I don't think timing is as important.

Question: Does the status of a school as an "Ivy" play into your decision about where to go for your ACLS fellowship? If so, how? I'm weighing such a choice between two schools - where longer-term prospects are equally unlikley. Just pondering how much that prestige factor would or would not aid my career 2 years down the road...

  • I'd suggest that there might be other advantages to an "Ivy" than just the name, more or less depending on what you're comparing it to. Things like access to resources and people (not just resident faculty, but hordes of invited speakers, etc.) that could help you grow more as a scholar, do more with what you have and come out with more connections than you would in a more isolated or low-budget place.

Has anyone had any luck negotiating the promise of a TT position yet? I have talked to a couple schools about it so far and their response has mostly been "we may have something opening up that would suit you, but we would have to do a national search." They are definitely competing for me, but don't seem to be particularly keen to promise anything.

  • To be fair, they barely know us, much less how productive or good a colleague we'll be over the next two years. Asking for a hard commitment is kind of like proposing to them on the first date. Not that all TT hires aren't risky that way, but realistically, considering that none of us got a TT offer this year, it's not surprising that these top schools don't already see us as TT hires. Also, they may not yet have a firm commitment from the dean about when the tenure search can happen or at what rank (mine told me this without being pressed) and they really do, legally, have to do a national search for all TT hires. Prove yourself indespensible and you'll have it in the bag.
  • I've had a different experience. A couple of schools had ACLS reviewers on their selection committees and they really took the peer review process of the NFF seriously. They told me that they turned their NFFs into TTs because they knew it was easier to have NFFs approved by the dean than to receive permission for national searches, for the prestige of the ACLS and the fact that NFFs had been prevetted by multiple institutions and individuals, not just by a department, made NFFs more convincing cases with the dean than national search candidates. What I've learned for the last week or so is being selected by ACLS means a lot to many people in ways that we've never imagined.

Question: Has anyone tried to play the housing card when negotiating between two or more offers, i.e. asking for highly subsidized (or free!) housing in faculty accommodations? Any luck?

I brought it up with a Dean, but only received a promise that I would be put in contact with the school's Housing Office... Of course, this could just be a case of poor/unclear negotiating on my part.
Actually, that doesn't seem to be a case of poor negotiating. I was told up front (intial phone conversation) by a big name school in a location where subsidized housing would be a great boon (if not necessary) that getting subsidized housing would be very unlikely (essentially: we'll put you on the list, but--to be frank--you'll be at the very bottom of the list since you're not t-t). However, I didn't try to come back and leverage with another offer, primarily because it wouldn't have influenced my decision, but given our situation, I'd be very surprised if any school would be willing to prioritize housing for us in that way.

Question: Has anyone successfully negotiated title changes, e.g. from Lecturer to VAP or Scholar in Residence to VAP?

Anyone know when the list of awardees will be made public? I'm really curious to learn who the fellows for next year will be...

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