There are lots of reasons for denying an offer for a TT position. Perhaps the position is not the best fit. Sometimes, the timeline is not conducive to exploring other options, and while you would like to consider it, you can't commit currently. For those out there trying to do so delicately without burning bridges, every word might count. Please share your communications.
Date: 28 Jan 2015 23:27
Number of posts: 6
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"I loved you school/department because x, y, z… I want to consider this position but I just can't make a decision that quickly because of x. I do not want to delay your search, so I have to turn down the offer at this time. However, I really loved the position and would appreciate being considered again in case it doesn't work out with your next candidate before you move on." Or something along those lines. Just really sing their praises and describe the situation as a timeline issue. That said, if it's only a little bit timeline and mostly other stuff, don't let them get sucked into giving you a huge extension if you know you won't seriously consider it (hence the line about "I don't want to delay your search").
"Do you remember that time back in November, when we were strolling through the library, so excited that we had finally met each other? You looked at me carefully, cautiously; and I was wary too, but could feel my heart beating and my voice quivering. Do you remember what I said to you then? I said, 'I've never seen such beauty in a library'. How you blushed! And then we sat under the shade of that Maple tree on the quad, and we laughed at those kids playing hacky-sack, remembering how it seemed just like yesterday that we were those scruffy students. Later that afternoon you led into your great hallway, walking slowly beside me with your quick side glances, silently betraying what I desperately wanted to hear and what you desperately wanted to say.
But you knew that things might not work out between us. I didn't hide that fact from you, and neither did you from me. I knew about your other suitors - no, you never stated it, and I never knew who they were. But I knew that they had been there before me. I knew that they were as 'good' as me - despite what you told me that day. And yes, you knew that I had a history, that my soul was troubled and my mind unsure. You said that you loved my sense of adventure, of my quest for endless possibility … but there is a cost to such a spirit.
Perhaps I should have told you then about my misgivings. Perhaps. It all happened so quickly, and I was so exhausted from the plane trips, the fabulous dinners (and yes, I knew how much that dinner meant to you!), the conversations that we had that extended so long into the night that I would later collapse on my hotel bed, my feverish head filled with dreams of our future happiness.
But in the morning, my heart wavered. And every morning after that, my doubts grew.
And then Yale called.
I'm so sorry, my love."
Love it, Anton!!
And I like this thread too, because I have declined two TT offers already and feel stupid for doing so….because what if I don't get another one?? I just didn't think I'd be happy at those places and would honestly prefer to do a postdoc over work there.
My email was something like: "Thank you for extending an offer for your tenure track position in XX. I really appreciated your hospitality and loved XYZ about your department/school. I especially enjoyed sharing insights at dinner with faculty members (or something else about the visit). After very careful consideration of the offer, I have made the difficult decision to decline the offer due to location of the school/other offers/lack of fit/other reason. I wish you all the best for your department and hope that your faculty search is successful."
I know this isn't what you asked for but the thread above reminded me of it:
"The Ultimate Rejection Letter"
Herbert A. Millington
Chair - Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109
Dear Professor Millington,
Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I
regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me
an assistant professor position in your department.
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually
large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field
of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.
Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in
rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at
this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor
in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.
Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.
Chris L. Jensen
These posts are hilarious. Definitely adding so much humor to the miserable process that is a tenure-track job search. That is all.