Ollie123

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Realize many in university settings may not be keeping careful tabs of these things, but curious how other universities/AMCs are handling things right now. We've already had a few threads discussing impact on students/interns, but I haven't seen anything for faculty. I'm in a major AMC right now that supposedly took a ~350 million dollar hit from COVID. So far the only impact on my day-to-day is frozen support accounts and they have halted retirement contributions til next July. I'm guessing the largest chunk of that hit is lost clinical revenue and idle grant effort, but they haven't been terribly transparent about it so I don't know for sure. As expensive as tuition is, I suspect it would be a miniscule portion of overall revenue at a place like this. The idle grant effort could be the biggest killer for soft-money places, but it seems very uncertain how all that will be handled. I see some small schools just flat out closing up shop, but am not hearing much detail about impact at the mid-large (R1/R2) places. In theory, they should be in a better place to absorb but I imagine that varies tremendously. For state institutions I am <guessing> effects may not be felt for another 1-2 years given how budgets are set.

I ask because I'm dabbling a bit in the job market this year. Was considering it pre-COVID, the last few months have made clear the emperor has no clothes, and I figured its worth at least starting to explore even in present times. Just looking to set expectations and see what I might want to be thinking about. I can conceivably fit across a range of departments (psychology, neuroscience, public health, and medicine are all in play). Some of the places I've been talking to vary significantly in type. Trying (as best I can) to figure out how stable the hard-money positions might be. Also not sure the etiquette of asking too many questions along those lines, nor am I confident a typical faculty member is well-poised to assess those. Just curious to hear what others are gleaning from their universities.
 

AbnormalPsych

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Probably not helpful to you, but will add in my experience as adjunct at a smaller pubic school. I serve in some paid admin roles/committees that has allowed me some additional insight.

We are expecting a decent size hit, but not as much as originally thought. Surprisingly with the move to all online courses enrollment has actually INCREASED, from pre-COVID, after an initial decrease. Psych is one of the biggest departments as well, so our classes are not likely to be cut unless something changes. We are seeing a lot of incoming freshman who withdrew from out of state/out of town places to live at home and come to place to do their general ed reqs. We have cheaper tuition than the big names around.

Non social science departments are less lucky, particularly those requiring in person stuff/labs. Enrollment is down there. It is going to be a hot mess the next 1-2 years.

From the top, decisions are not being made yet regarding hiring forecasts and changes in benefits, etc, but I get the sense that is constantly being evaluated. It is tough now to keep being told maybe and we'll see to all questions, but we will have to.

No clue about research funding.
 

Ollie123

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Thanks - this does help. Some of the departments I am looking at vary in size and funding streams. For instance - public health is often graduate-level only and thus tuition is probably a miniscule portion of their budget. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing relative to psychology where its normal to have hundreds of students in a class. The math on how teaching one 10-person class per semester can justify a substantive hard-money salary doesn't make sense to me as the tuition dollars alone (apportioned by # of credits) seems like it wouldn't cover the costs so the remaining amount has to be coming from somewhere (is clinical revenue being funneled to non-clinical departments? Kickbacks from endowment? Is teaching revenue from larger departments being funneled to smaller ones?) All of these make me nervous in different ways.

Perhaps I'm just being a little too paranoid about these things - I'm used to the soft money world where I am used to needing a detailed accounting of <exactly> where every dime of my salary is coming from. There seems a lot of magic to certain university departments with (comparatively) smaller enrollments and I can't quite figure out where the money is coming from and what the net-positive vs net-negatives are for the university. This just makes me nervous in a time when cuts are possible. This may be unrealistic though - not like most people in the corporate world understand exactly where their salary dollars are coming from.
 
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summerbabe

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The math on how teaching one 10-person class per semester can justify a substantive hard-money salary doesn't make sense to me as the tuition dollars alone (apportioned by # of credits) seems like it wouldn't cover the costs so the remaining amount has to be coming from somewhere (is clinical revenue being funneled to non-clinical departments? Kickbacks from endowment? Is teaching revenue from larger departments being funneled to smaller ones?) All of these make me nervous in different ways.
I can't speak to the current environment or how this may pertain to R1/R2 institutions so this may not be helpful for your situation but here goes.

At the private liberal arts college I attended (and then worked at following graduation), departments were definitely not funded solely on direct revenue generated. For an undergrad enrollment of around 1600, we had at least 4 tenured French language profs (to correspond to probably 4 seniors graduating with a French language major each year).

But study abroad in France was popular and learning foreign languages was seen as a crucial part of the liberal arts mission so you needed that kind of manpower to offer staggered and progressively advanced language courses. Plus, we were in a remote area without access to local adjunct talent. While I didn't have direct knowledge to the financials, I'm 100% sure these positions were not self-funding. And I wouldn't be surprised if even the busiest departments also didn't significantly rely on endowment support.

As for future impact, I would expect that pre-existing, healthy departments that were receiving significant commitment from the university (prestige? demand from students? inertia?) are best poised to continue receiving support, albeit with possible changes. I'd be more worried about relatively new programs/departments or departments that aren't identified as 'prestigious' by that university's senior leadership.

I also expect the first line cost-cutting would be to delay anticipated construction projects, freeze salaries, furlough/fire in high COVID-impact areas (see college athletics right now), cut down on general operating expenses (e.g., travel for conferences, catering), expand undergrad course capacity caps for online courses, and other areas and hoping/praying they can maintain their educational and research operations.
 

DynamicDidactic

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Some R1/R2 places are indeed hiring this year. I am sure these position will be even more competitive as a consequence. At the moment, Psychology departments are fairly stable and safe. I chose to teach in person and I have not seen any significant decline in my class enrollments (which are small) and I know a lot of our students are taking online courses. I am serving students that don't want to be home all day and don't want to be at a large institution.

I say just hit up higher ed jobs and see what the market is like. It has been surprisingly more active than I imagined but definitely less active than typical. If you want hard money look for Psych dept jobs.
 

Ollie123

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Yeah, I have been following the market. Its not really an issue finding jobs right now, moreso about how to evaluate financial stability of the jobs I am seeing posted. I expect to only apply to a handful of jobs this year - both because of the market and because I am in a position to be pretty picky since I'm not in a hurry (and might not make a move even if offered depending on setting, startup, benefits, etc.). I'm not dead set on hard money but do want to make sure if it IS hard money that I have some way to evaluate the stability of that hard money. Given the indirects I hope to be bringing with me by the time I'd transition I doubt I would be topping anyone's list to cut, but university accounting just seems a bit of a mystery to me. I'm not really sure how to evaluate it beyond googling news articles about announcements RE: university financial losses due to COVID. Yet if all of a sudden my 1-1 teaching load would expand to a 2-2 because of budget cuts...that would obviously factor into my negotiation and/or willingness to make a move.

Psych is on the list, but I'm arguably a better fit in a more interdisciplinary dept where I could still collaborate with psych.
 
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DynamicDidactic

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I think the teaching load will be what it is for each school. They wont ask you to do more and you can simply buy yourself out if you want less. I wouldn't be worried about financials of any place that is searching.
 

Ollie123

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Well, except some places I know in fact HAVE increased teaching requirements (asking primary faculty to teach extra courses so they do not have to pay adjuncts).

Anyways, it does make sense that if a search is moving fwd they probably aren't too worried. I'll just see how things unfold. If startups are too stingy or other factors don't look good, I can always punt a year or two down the road.
 
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I'm in a large AMC. There is a hiring freeze so there are a million hoops to go through to make a new hire. We were still able to hire someone who had applied for an open position - by showing the numbers and the need- but apparently the salary has to be approved separately than the approval of the hire and her salary is still waht she was making as a postdoc (at this same AMC- we hired her out of postdoc). As you can imagine that feels extremely unfair. Same is true for me - moved up a position right at the beginning of COVID and my raise hasn't been apporoved yet. Supposedly we will get lump sum payments, but ugh. Good luck on the job market if that's the route you take!
 

futureapppsy2

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TT faculty at an R1 here. No increase in teaching load,and the only decrease in benefits was stopping our retirement match for a few months (3, I think?). I asked at one point if cutting TT faculty was on the table, and the dean was literally like "hell no, never." Overall enrollment is down <1% and grad enrollment is considerably up. We did lose some unfilled lines last year, but may department alone has multiple TT faculty and multiple full-time non-TT faculty starting this year.
 
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