I start a TT position at a state institution (Cal State system) in Fall - a position I'm over the moon excited about. I'm curious how this has been for others. I did my UG at a SLAC and my doc at an R1, so not sure exactly what to expect.
Date: 27 Apr 2016 16:09
Number of posts: 5
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There are many types of state universities (and many of the big ones are R1s) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_research_universities_in_the_United_States
Looks like 2 Cal State campuses are R3, meaning doctoral, but less research emphasis, more teaching. None are R1 or R2. So you are looking at R3 or non-doctoral which brings certain expectations, but the state designation means little. Differences between state and private R1s is something I could comment on, but I know little about the CSU system or those types of schools. I would guess high teaching load, less infrastructure for programmatic funded research, lower salary/start-up vs. R1/R2, and a tenure path that would be less focused on research. If its a doctoral institution you would have mentoring responsibilities that would be higher. At the non-R3s you would probably be expected to do increased undergraduate mentoring/advising. Good place if you prefer teaching, cost of living could be a concern in CA (depending on campus).
In a state system, you have to follow the state regs and trustees are appointed by government. In conservative states, this usually means certain things in the current political climate (campus carry, a strong business influence vs. trad academic, some states have tried to oust university presidents, etc.). But even in liberal states funding for higher ed. has been cut. I know that the UC system is underfunded (as are many state systems) and that likely extends to CSU system. So basically more state oversight, more regs and potentially less funding for the institutions than at some big private R1s/R2s. This will trickle down to salary increases, internal grant funding, monies available for summer teaching, etc.
I think it would help to know if you will be working with graduate students or not?
What @Anon offers in terms of salary, teaching loads, and institutional finances is applicable to most of the non elite SLACs / private universities as well. Right now most smaller private institutions (enrollments under 3,000), especially those in less desirable locations, are facing enrollment and budget woes. Some of these will doubtlessly fold in the coming years and from colleagues at such places, many have frozen salaries. Personally, I'd rather work for a state institution than a private one if it's not an R1 or top-tier SLAC.
Otherwise, in terms of work environment, it'll be like most teaching oriented institutions if it's R3 or non-doctoral. You should know your teaching load right now. If it's a 3/3 load or greater, expect your research program to slow during the first year or two as you adjust to new demands such as advising/mentorship and - especially - service work. Try to forge collaborations with colleagues at R1 institutions and contribute to these as best you are able. This the best way to stay active with research. Also, be wary about saying yes to committees. Committee work can devour time and is truly thankless. You will need to do some service work, but try to get on one or two easy committees - or - one stronger committee that you feel you can contribute to. Ask senior colleagues about the better/worse committees. They should be happy to advise on this. Lastly, set some dedicated time each week for your research and writing. Treat this like teaching and let no one take that block of time from you, not even students. Good luck!
It is very rewarding in one sense since you get to work with first generation college students and other non-traditional students. But personally I find that many state schools engage in really iffy ethical practices such as creating masters programs to help offset a reduction in state funding. This can be very frustrating as many students will enroll in these masters programs and go into debt. Many UCs also aspire to be Stanford rather than fulfilling their mission. So find that many state school generally suffer from an identity crises which leads them to make inconsistent administrative decisions.