Why faculty leave Florida

In the parking lot this morning, I met an assistant professor I know well who told me that he’s leaving USF. He’s going to a public university in another state where he’ll be paid a good chunk more than what he’s paid here (at a place that is definitely not the flagship university), and where he’ll get credit towards tenure for the three years he spent at USF.

I asked him if he was worried about selling his house. He said that the salary differential was about equal to his mortgage payments here (he’s in a small house), and as soon as he sells the house, even if it’s in a year or more, he’ll get the sale price and also an instant bump in effective take-home pay. USF couldn’t match the salary, and that is consistent with the administration’s behavior in the past (which is to match offers very, very rarely).

He said he was leaving because he saw the state “sinking into a hole,” and while we talk up the status of USF, “the pay is far below the rhetoric of Research I.” That certainly is true: according to AAUP statistics, USF salaries for assistant, associate, and full professors are all in the fourth quintile of Research I universities.

So I wished him well and said that while we’d miss him, I certainly understood why he’s leaving. I just hope the legislature understands, too.

Follow-up: Within minutes of writing this entry, I received an e-mail from another colleague: I’m also leaving USF, and what you wrote … could have been a conversation with me.


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