Negotiating the Academic Job Offer Session Notes

Some raw notes on the "Negotiating the Academic Job Offer" panel discussion.


  • Kathy Kash (Prof/Chair, Physics)
  • Bob Savinell (Prof, Chemical Engineering)
  • Jim Kazura (Prof, International Health, Medicine & Pathology)
  • Dave Schiraldi (Prof/Chair, Macromolecular Science & Engineering)


Case to Case in 1994 as an associate prof. Came from industry and had one post doc. They've hired about a dozen people in Physics since she's been there. She was an undergrad in a small liberal arts college.


Been here since 1986. Taught at Uni of Akron for 7 years. Worked in industry for 3 years. Served as Dean for 7 years. Hired dozens of profs. Resigned now back running a lab.


Postdoc at U of Penn. Been involved in hiring and unhiring. Was on committee for tenure and promotions.


Spent 20 years in chemical engineers. Came here in 2002. He's hired three faculty members and offered to 5. Leading search for searches now.

What is a typical job offer? What can they negotiate?

Kathy: salary, teaching load, pre-tenure teaching release, startup package (support for grad students, waivers for grad students, lab space, summer salary, post doc salary). They lost a candidate because they found about them having a partner and they got a pair of offers somewhere else. They didn't have time to counter offer. They now want to know about partners early on. They can't ask about partners legally. She thinks Case is responsive to sponsor hiring. Try to speak to the diversity officer.

Jim: School of Medicine is distinct from the rest of the University. Nobody wants to make an offer without feeling like they are being successful. They know the people to some level before recruiting. Assistant Prof level, if you have access to NIH funding already then you are good. They have a formula for salary in their school. There is less NIH money than in the 2010's so it is more challenging.

Dave: Salary portion and startup portion. Salary fits in some grid. You won't be able to wildly negotiate the startup. You need money to pay people to do the research (grad students, post docs). If you can bring money with you, you are gold. The startup package is to ensure your success. You should know what you need before you show up. Be sure to want things that they don't have already. Get labs in writing. Don't give up lab space.

Bob: Understand your priorities and what you need to be successful. The startup package is a serious investment of the university. Success has some relationship to startup funds. Startup package comes in sections, not all in main dollar amount. Beware that lab renovation or other things may come out of your startup money. Think of it as a startup package, not a slush fund. Negotiate whether you want PhD students or post docs, how many. The chair works with the faculty member on the needs and wants and then that gets passed to the Dean. Mostly the Dean tries to satisfy what the chair asks for. He negotiated for a year when he came. Best to do this face-to-face. Different departments have different package sizes.

Kathy: At her physics council with 35 institutions, they exchange info about how much they are offering among institutions.

How do we find out about what a typical offer is?

Bob: Ask people who've been recently hired. Largest he's offered is 8 million.

Dave: He got offered 100k (second smallest!).

Kathy: Don't ask for things you don't need.

Dave: There is probably a bottom line offer (the ceiling of the start up package). Summer salary should be in the package.

What can you negotiate on?

There are unofficial grids on salary so there is less room to negotiate there.

Jim: Factor in the cost of living.

The startup package is very negotiable. The summer package is. Lab space and if you make a case for certain equipment you can get it.

Dave: There is a bottom line. So you may be able to get a few more % but there may be hard chance to get big change.

What about non-research focused schools?

Bob: Teaching schools may give little start up packages. They may be more controlled in their salary because of unions.

Jim: Here they get 70% of salary from external sources like NIH.

Bob: Understand the expectations of the institutions. Some expect you to bring in a percentage of your salary. Ask about this! to the chair, dean, and faculty members.

At which stage do you mention your partner?

Kathy: They are video interviewing 8 by video, choosing 3 for visits. At the in person interview they need to know what you need, including about the partner. They need to know all constraints on what you need for a good offer. At Case there is a special type of money for partner hires.

How do you start negotiating?

Kathy: They ask for an equipment list when you visit for the interview.

Bob: After the interview they will ask you for a list of what you need.

Jim: If you ask for a million dollar equipment as an assistant prof, you are not going to get it.

Is the teaching load talked about?

Kathy: It is in the advertisement.

Bob: Talk to the other professors about it.

Dave: If done right, the negotiation is done already before you've got the offer. They don't want to take the letter to the President or the Provost more than once, everything must be in line.

Bob: The chair is your best friend in getting the startup money.

Is the tenure offer negotiable?

Bob: you can maybe adjust it.

Dave: 5-6 years for tenure.

Jim: School of Medicine is 9 years.

Bob: You can always come up for tenure early. You probably can't negotiate longer tenure unless you have special circumstances.

Kathy: You can't ask for earlier tenure clock in their department.

How much time is given after offer is given?

Bob: 30 days, 60 days, or rarely several months.

Kathy: Tell them about your competing offer.

Bob: Tell them your other competing offer.

Are you allowed to bring the actual numbers of offer to another school?

Dave: Yes, but it can be distasteful.

Bob: More than just the equipment, salary. It is the environment.

Jim: Look at the mentoring environment.

Dave: If it is about your ego be careful. If more will ensure your success, then speak up about it.


Bob: Most uni's have sabbatical policies. Usually can't get one till after 7 years. Don't bring up retirement, just read the handbook.

Dave: Just ask "Do people take sabbaticals?"

Should I have a list of things that are important to you?

Bob: If it is important, then bring it up.

Housing expenses, moving assistance?

Jim: The can arrange for real estate companies to show you around. Set up times to talk to specific offices on campus to ask about these things.

Dave: Yes ask about these things. Like child care and stuff. Tell us things that are important to you as an individual.

Bob: I gave a bonus to help with moving expenses.

What is applying to national lab like?

Bob: I think it is more like industry. I don't think there is any startup package negotiation.

Dave: They just set the salary.

Bob: Don't forget travel expenses. More universities are being restricted on their packages. There is more oversight on the line items these days.

Dave: Get a discretionary account line item that you can spend on anything.

Should we get it all in writing?

Kathy: Completely in detail all in writing.

Jim: There aren't line items in the School of Medicine. Just a dollar amount.

Bob: Think of a startup package as an investment. How do you invest in yourself in a finite time amount of time to make you most successful.