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How and When to Negotiate a Strong Startup Package

Module by: Susan Cates. E-mail the author

Summary: Presentation in the 2006 Rice University NSF Advance Conference entitled “Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position”. This presentation introduces the reader to the things to consider when negotiating a start-up package. The original presentation authors are Rebekah Drezek (BioE) Behnaam Aazhang (ECE), Barry Dunning (Physics), Jim Kinsey (Chem), Marcia O'Malley (MechE), and Michael Diehl (BioE).

Workshop Authors: Rebekah Drezek, Behnaam Aazhang, Barry Dunning, Jim Kinsey, Marcia O'Malley, and Michael Diehl

Slide 1: Our Plan for This Session

  • Components of a Start Up Package
  • Faculty Member Perspective
  • Chair/Dean Perspective
  • Q and A - Our Primary Emphasis

Slide 2: Negotiating Your First Position

Slide 4: A Day in the Life of an Assistant Prof (2/17/06)

  • 8:30-10:15
  • Meeting at MDACC on ovary study. Our protocol was approved (Yay!). Did we mention it has to be absolutely pitch dark?
  • Try to get back to Rice on time for nanobio training review. Hope it is not raining (irritates my Segway…)
  • Nanobio student No. 1 review (I am co-supervisor on joint project)
  • 10:30-10:45
  • Nanobio student No. 2 review (I am supervisor on joint project)
  • 10:45-11:00
  • Meeting with postdoc No. 1 on paper revisions due last week.
  • 11:00-11:30
  • Meeting with student project team No. 1 for BIOE 572
  • 11:30-12:00
  • Meeting with grad student No. 1 on fl project.
  • 12:00-12:30
  • Meeting with grad student No. 2 on job search.
  • 12:30-1:00
  • Meeting with grad student No. 3 on protocol for R21 (Did I mention we have a R21 due today? By 5:00.)
  • 1:00-1:30
  • Forage office for food.
  • 1:30-2:00
  • Meeting with student having HW trouble in BIOE 572
  • 2:00-2:30
  • Meeting with student project team No. 2 for BIOE 572
  • 2:30-3:00
  • Meeting with grad student No. 4 on paper submission
  • 3:00-4:00
  • Weekly teleconference on RO1 No. 1. Curse each other (as always)for choosing mouse model for colon cancer. Learn more than you ever care to know about strategies for colonoscopy in mice.
  • 3:45-4:00
  • Leave teleconference early to hook up computer for this seminar.
  • 4:00-5:00
  • Give seminar.
  • 5:00-6:00
  • Teleconference to discuss competing renewal of RO1 No. 2.

TIME is the new MONEY. Negotiating start up is not about maximizing dollars but maximizing your opportunity for success.

Slide 5: Example: A Bare Bones Offer Letter

Figure 1: Bare Bones Offer Letter
Letter 1
Letter 1 (drezek_letter1.jpg)

WHAT IS HERE

  • salary
  • start-up fund
  • initial summer salary
  • graduate student/yrs
  • moving expenses

WHAT IS MISSING

  • raise to reflect late start date*
  • teaching relief
  • how long do you have to spend money?
  • when can you start spending?
  • where is space?
  • how much of it?
  • renovations?

*if not incorporated into offered salary – will be difficult to figure out if only 1 year delay

Slide 6: Example: A More Detailed Offer Letter

Figure 2: More Detailed Offer Letter
Letter 2
Letter 2 (drezek_letter2.jpg)

Slide 7: Faculty Member Perspective

  • You are in your most powerful position during the negotiation process (almost impossible to add to once you arrive).
  • The Chair is your advocate.
  • Teaching reduction buys you time – this is critical!
  • Flexibility helps a lot as your needs evolve. Can you change people into equipment? Graduate students into postdocs?
  • Talk to as many junior and senior faculty as possible to get advice on what is a reasonable package in your subfield before you start.
  • If there is someone at the institution you trust to ask about what a typical package in your field is like that is even better.
  • Cannot compare offers w/o understanding a school’s overhead and tuition policies. Need to find out how much a graduate student costs and if it changes throughout PhD.
  • Also need to understand school’s overhead return policies and academic year buy-out policies to compare offers.
  • And if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist…

Slide 8: The Chair/Dean Perspective

DO

  • Realize this is when your chair/dean are forming their impression of you as a future colleague
  • Have and communicate a very clear idea of what you need (2-3 pages)
  • Differentiate between what you absolutely can’t live without and what would be very helpful
  • Know what equipment could be shared with others
  • Be prepared on the initial visit for your meeting with the Dean
  • Be prepared during the dept interview to say which courses you can teach in the dept. you are interviewing in
  • Know your space needs (special power, cooling water, etc.)

DON'T

  • Repeatedly change your needs (This was the only comment that every single chair/dean independently mentioned)
  • Try to raise your offer at one school to make another match – it becomes obvious and reflects very poorly on you
  • Wait until everything else is finalized to bring up a two body issue (when to bring this up is a possible Q and A topic)

Slide 9: Potential Q and A Topics

  • Points from Other Panelists
  • When is the right time to bring up “two-body” issues?
  • What is the right approach to handling multiple negotiation processes?

References

  1. Rebekah Drezek, Behnaam Aazhang, Barry Dunning, Jim Kinsey, Marcia O'Malley, and Michael Diehl. (2006, October). How and When to Negotiate a Strong Start Up Package: NSF Advance Workshop at Rice University. [http://www.advance.rice.edu/negotiatingtheidealfacultyposition/agenda.html].
  2. HHMI Resources for the Development of Early-Career Scientists: MAKING THE RIGHT MOVES: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT FOR POSTDOCS AND NEW FACULTY, SECOND EDITION. [http://www.hhmi.org/resources/labmanagement/].
  3. Richard M. Reis. (1997). Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Careers in Science and Engineering. New York: Wiley-IEEE Press.
  4. Peter Feibelman. (1993). A Ph.D. Is Not Enough: A Guide to Survival in Science. New York: Perseus Books, HarperCollins Publishers.
  5. John A. Goldsmith, John Komlos, and Penny Schine Gold. (2001). Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  6. Emily Toth. (1997). Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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