Hiring A Tenured Associate Professor As An Untenured Assistant Professor

A philosophy professor writes in with a job market question:

I’m wondering whether associate professors with tenure are ever hired for non-tenured, tenure-track assistant professor positions, and if so, what such candidates should do to increase their chances of getting hired for such jobs? 

This has been done, though I don’t know how common it is.

There are considerations about the expense of a higher salary for a more experienced candidate and about “early” tenure that will vary from institution to institution, and perhaps worries that the move indicates that you’re a “flight risk” (i.e., that you won’t stick around, and then the department will have to run a new search—if they even get the approval to do so). On the other hand, such candidates have a longer track record which may make them more attractive as well as make it easier to judge what kind of philosopher and colleague they’ll be. The types of schools and departments involved will also be a factor.

One’s success at such a venture will likely be influenced by the reasons for doing so (and how one pitches those reasons to the hiring department). I would imagine that if a tenured associate professor is applying for an untenured assistant professorship in order to move to an institution at which one’s partner has a position—that is, to solve the “two body problem”—that may help make the move more explicable to a search committee, though I’d be interested in hearing from those who have been involved in such hires (either applying or hiring) to see if that is the case.


M.C. Escher – “Relativity”

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