Thursday, November 13, 2008

Graduating into a Depression

The number of professorships in the country does not vary much from year to year. Usually the number of positions opening up approximately equals the number of professors dying, retiring or moving to other jobs. Occasionally a new campus opens or there is a major expansion of enrollment, and a bunch of new positions are created. Other times the economy sucks (to use the technical term) and as a cost-cutting measure positions are retired or left vacant for a few years. As an example, the budget problems California has been having ever since the dot com bust have caused UC Berkeley to greatly increase the average time between one professor leaving and another being hired.
Right now, professorships are hard to get and I fully expect them to get harder. Somebody or other, a housing economist I think, was on NPR today predicting that the housing market will hit bottom in another three years. I expect the academic job market to hit bottom around the same time, or possibly a year or two later.

Which brings me to me. I will be getting my PhD in a little under a year. I then expect to spend two or three years as a Post-Doctoral researcher in Germany. That should have me searching for an assistant professorship just about the time there are no professorships of any sort to be had.

President-Elect Obama, I think an investment in our nation's universities and research institutes would be a great way to stimulate the economy, improve education and develop the technologies we need to deal with environmental issues and health care. Sooner is better than later. I have this three-year plan.

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