Did this college fail to negotiate in good faith or did this applicant deserve what she got?

From Slate:

This being the internet, it has elicited opinions which range from vitriol aimed at the school for rudely withdrawing their offer instead of simply responding that the terms of employment were not negotiable (and with hints of sexism on the side) to a lot of anger at a naive applicant who got what she deserved for her impertinence.

I wondered where this community stood on this issue, especially since many here are in academia.

I think this is on W. Tenure track positions for philosophy teachers are very much a buyer’s market. If she wanted to get better terms, she should have chosen a field with more demand.

If the applicant was still making offers, then she recognized that no agreement had been made. So the college was free to change its offer as well - including withdrawing its original offer. It was harsh but it was legitimate negotiation.

Yikes! If I were on the hiring committee and got a response like that, I’d take it as an enormous red flag.

The reason they’re hiring is because they need someone to teach for them, not someone who demands a lot of time off and special considerations.

That was my thought, as well. It’s completely reasonable to negotiate, and to ask for more than you want, but the tone coupled with the list is the sort of thing that would make me say “thanks, but no thanks.”

Fit is a huge issue in a university. You are potentially making a lifetime offer (assuming they get tenure), and at least six years before tenure, so you can be stuck with a bad hire for a long time.

The big difference is between someone who is looking for a primarily teaching university and one looking for research universities. The worst fit is someone who resents being at teaching university and wishes they were doing primarily research.

If I saw that reply I would not want to just restate the original offer, but I’d be very wary that I was about to make a huge mistake.

Since she is asking to start in 2015 and asking for a semester’s maternity leave, it sounds like she is asking for her first semester off. That may not fit with the teaching needs of the school. If she isn’t currently pregnant, I don’t know why she is negotiating future maternity leave.

This is it. It sounds like this woman didn’t do her research (heh!) on what the priorities of the school she applied to were, and when she sent that reply, huge red flags went up. I work for a University, and they put their applicants through a whole lot of hoops before making an offer. The fact that you can be stuck with someone who isn’t happy and won’t be a good fit is why … it can take a whole long time to offload that person.

I don’t think she made a mistake by presenting a counter offer (assuming these are all important to her and she wasn’t simply trying to milk it). I also don’t think the college was wrong to rescind the offer if it determined that she probably wasn’t a good match. Their explanation sounds reasonable to me.

It is unfortunate that the maternity leave request seems to have drawn a lot of attention and made some people question if there is sexism involved. The other requests seem more demanding to me than maternity leave and I certainly hope the college’s decision wasn’t based on it (and if it was, then I change my answer about the college).

As an aside - do assistant professors in philosophy really make $65,000?
I would have guessed more like $40,000.

I have heard of negotiating with a university over parking spaces and whatnot. And I could see negotiating with a research university over teaching load, provided you’ve got a decent prospect of bringing in million-dollar grant money.

But dayum. A pre-tenure sabbatical? And she hasn’t even finished her post-doc yet? I wish I had that kind of self-confidence!

I feel bad for her because someone has obviously been giving her bad advice. But this is a good lesson for others.

IMHO the applicant seriously mis-calculated the power dynamics. In both content and tone, the counter-offer comes off as extremely smug. This is not a CEO with years of measurable financial success being headhunted. This is someone going for an Asst Professor of Philosophy. Without specifically denigrating that job, we can say with confidence that society doesn’t value certain academic disciplines highly?

And consider that this is happening at a time when many institutes of higher learning are staffing up with low-paid no-benefits Adjuncts rather than spend money on full professors.

W be whack!

I wonder how much of this was a surprise to them. Did she tell them her availability up front, or was this a surprise? Is a pre-tenure sabbatical standard?

If they had a need for someone for the 2014-2015 year, and she was only marginally better than another candidate, I don’t blame them for dumping her. They might feel that if they refused she’d already be halfway out the door or starting unhappy. I’m sure she could have gotten away with the money request.

A pre-tenure sabbatical is highly unusual in my experience. Bordering on bizarre.

I worked at a small liberal arts school that offered all tenure track faculty a one semester sabbatical between their 3 year review and the tenure decision. So, not unheard of but I’m sure it’s more the exception than the rule. Maybe W had a competing offer from a school that does offer pre-tenure sabbaticals and that’s where she got the idea.

Ah. I’ve never of it before.

Sounds nice. I should’ve negotiated for it!

Bolded for emphasis.

This seems to be what the committee itself uses as the reason. Like ITD said, hiring a tenure-track professor is a pretty long-term decision, I wouldn’t find it unreasonable at all if they are taking the approach of, “if we aren’t sure you in - we know you’re out.”

Now, was the committee merely expressing a legitimate concern as their reason for terminating the offer, or making some kind of witty comeback to her demands as they told her to shove it? That’s a question for… the debate club. :cool:

It was a dick move on the part of the college (they should have said “sorry, but we cannot do these for you; we hope that isn’t an issue for you”), but the candidate handled it wrong by making demands, especially since they weren’t likely to be granted.

In fact, as I reread the points, it sounds like she’s negotiating from ignorance and does not understand what requests are appropriate and which are not. She is not in a position of strength, yet her requests imply she thinks she is.

I agree with the university for withdrawing the offer. Whether she meant to or not she sent up huge red flags and I can see “pre-planned maternity leave” = “future sex discrimination lawsuit” in someone’s mind.

Both types are reactions are missing the point, which most posters here have gotten, but which RealityChuck seems to have missed:

It’s not that she made demands; it’s that her conditions 2 through 5 were all about limiting or reducing her teaching duties, which demonstrated that she’s not a good fit for a teaching job.