I’m a relatively new professor, still adjusting to my first year on the tenure track at University X (or UX for short). It’s been a great transition so far. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a grant and have had a couple of nice papers come out recently. I have fantastic colleagues and have developed a good professional and personal support network. I think all of this bodes well for my future success. And lucky for me, I love my job and the place I’m at in life.
However, since I began my job at UX, I’ve noticed something funny.
Several people, at all levels from new faculty to upper administration, have asked me how long I plan on staying at UX. The questions reached their peak of pointedness during a recent meeting with an upper administrator (the first time I had met the person), when he flat out asked me what I was doing at UX and how long I was planning on staying here, given that I had these nice papers.
Granted, I think it’s reasonable to expect that at some point in my career I may contemplate moving to a different institution. And of course no university is perfect, and indeed there are some issues at UX (as there are at many universities these days). But, while I don’t want to underestimate how much the issues will affect my work and my students, I also don’t want to underestimate the value in having great colleagues and a great support network as I navigate the tenure track. So I’m not so naive that I think I’ll never consider moving, but I really have no intention of doing so any time soon!
The big issue for me is that all of these questions have given me a complex. Am I being asked this question because there is a general perception that I will jump ship, or is this just the assumption of a few insecure individuals? Because I’m new at this professor gig, I really don’t have any context for assessing how common this question is. So, wise readers: Are these types of questions normal or not? Is this something I need to be concerned about? Are there any drawbacks (or benefits) to this perception? And do I need to address it explicitly, or do I address it simply through my actions- by staying at UX, enjoying life and being a good colleague?
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