Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Indiana Univ. beats Univ. of Colorado, 14 to 12

As of August 1, 2013 I am starting a new job as an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Division of the School of Informatics (SOIC) at Indiana University (IU). If you're unfamiliar with Indiana University, you might wonder why I'm moving there from the University of Colorado (CU). After all, CU is on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains and some of the best skiing in the world. (And I love skiing.)

There are three reasons why I was open to interviewing elsewhere this year. The first reason is that at CU, I was in the Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering (ECEE) Department, not the Computer Science Department. I was happy to start out as an Assistant Prof. in CU's ECEE department because it solved our two-body problem (my wife Katie is a prof. in the CS dept.) and got my foot in the door of academia. However, I am a Computer Scientist, so in the long term that was just not going to work and an offer from another university would make the switch to CS possible. The second reason is that I come up for tenure at CU in AY 2013-2014, and although my case looks good, one can never be too careful. If the chances are 99% of getting tenure, then I'm looking for how to change that to 100%. I figured that an outside offer would do just that. Finally, the third reason I was open to interviewing was the low or nonexistent raises at CU over the past six years. I realize that this is pretty common around the country, but then again CU was giving enormous raises to some of the people in administration and raising tuition.

In the Fall of 2012, I found out that IU had several faculty positions open in the SOIC and that they wanted Katie and I to apply. Katie and I both got our Ph.D. from IU and have fond memories of IU and Bloomington, IN. IU has a strong tradition in Programming Languages and the current PL group is excellent. So for me, IU is a better fit with respect to research collaboration than CU. Similarly for Katie, IU has a growing group in Health Informatics, so IU is also a great fit for Katie.
Bloomington is a wonderful little college town in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, surrounded by state forest and lakes. It's a good place for bicycling but not downhill skiing.

To make a long story short (the academic hiring process only has one gear, first gear), we interviewed at IU and received an attractive offer that included tenure, a sizable startup package, and a significant raise. CU made a counter-offer that included a moderate package of research funds, a moderate raise,  and me moving to the CS dept. CU elected not to rush our tenure process.

On April 24, 2013, Katie and I had a complex and difficult decision to make. The below picture is the pros/cons list that we created that night to help us make the decision. We divided the items into things related to family (the top three), things related to career (next 6), and then things related to lifestyle. We gave a 3x weighting to the family items, a 2x weighting to the career items, and a 1x weighting to the lifestyle items. To keep things simple, we just gave a + (for +1), - (for -1), or 0 to each item. As you can see written in red at the bottom, IU won out over CU by a score of 14 to 12. So we're off to Bloomington!


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