In a previous blog post, I explained that I was given my one-year’s notice that my Assistant Professor job would be non-renewed even though I was on the tenure track. So what happened next?

I turned to my Faculty Senate. I will always be incredibly grateful to that group. They listened and were empathetic and understanding. They worked with me over the entire next year.

It was an incredibly long year of many battles within my university (some of which I won, including getting reviewed for promotion and tenure, which my department tried to block). I felt somewhat redeemed that P&T deemed me worthy of Associate (all “yes” votes with one abstention). But in the end, my contract still was non-renewed.

Over the course of that ugly year, the personal devastation I felt was huge. My self-esteem was blown to bits. I was difficult to live with, and my family would probably say that is an understatement. I had one primary confidante, my husband. I felt shame and told very few people what was happening.

I didn’t recognize my depression until I reached out for professional help, which wasn’t until after the ugly year was over. Around that same time, I started telling a few select friends what had happened, which helped me a lot to feel less alone. Many people have been fired or laid off or set up to fail in their job or work for a bully. Most of us don’t speak of it. When I told a few friends what was happening to me, they then shared their own relevant experiences, which they had not previously disclosed.

My advice: don’t walk this path alone. You’ll need others to fight it, and will need others to hold you up when you are punched down. You are not alone and you will survive this.

P.S. Yes, I found another position (Associate Professor) six months later. Not tenure track, which is fine because tenure no longer means anything to me.

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Hey Liz….I’m waiting to hear more, but where did you find your support tribe? Were they a social media cluster of like minded professors or people in real life?

Dr Liz, PhD says:

Hi, Fighty! My support system was not anyone from academia. The people I turned to for emotional support were a few women I knew from church, who also had kids the same age as mine. So our paths crossed multiple arenas, without any professional overlap. I’m not very involved with social media, and The Edge is one of the first places I’ve ever posted comments. They didn’t need to know about universities to be supportive, because employment obstacles occur everywhere. Did they really understand about tenure? Probably not. But that didn’t matter. They had also had experiences with bully bosses, experiences with needing to find new/different employment, and experiences with separating one’s identity from one’s work.

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