my employee sent me a “letter of intent” to look for another job

A reader writes:

I manage a small department at a state agency. One of my direct reports, who had been having some issues with other employees (faults on both sides, honestly), just sent me a Letter of Intent to look for another job. The letter itself was beyond odd. It listed all of his contributions to the program (which are significant!) and demanded, if we wanted him to stay, a position that doesn’t exist and can’t be created without involvement at a much higher level, a much higher salary than the salary band permitted by the state, and a fancy title that doesn’t exist in our system.

The letter then asked me if I want him to work until December or through spring. The problem? He’s got a year-long contract that runs through June, and it’s utterly unclear whether a letter of intent to apply for other jobs actually constitutes a resignation or, if he can’t get another job by January, we’re obligated to continue to employ him until June. (Note: the probability that he will find another job matching what the letter says he wants by January is slim to none.)

Now, his demands are so off-the-wall that I not only have no desire to meet them, it’s completely impossible for me to do so, even if I wanted to. I have a call in to the contract person for our agency to figure out if a letter of intent for applying to other jobs constitutes a resignation from his contract or not. If he’s not going to be here in January, I need to start the hiring process NOW. If he is, I don’t want to hire someone else for that time period and have no work for them.

Have you ever heard of anyone issuing a letter of intent to start job searching before? Does it constitute a resignation? Does it mean anything? The letter was clearly written in a state of extreme annoyance, but I’m half expecting him to try to walk it back once his blood cools. FWIW, I ran into him in a common area today, and he avoided interacting with me.


People do not give their employers “letters of intent” to announce they plan to begin job searching. They just … begin job searching.

This is not a thing!

My guess is that either:

1. He’s hoping you’ll respond by begging him to stay, which is what most people want when they issue a dramatic Intent To Flounce … but he’s somehow oblivious to the fact that he has a contract through June.

2. He genuinely has no idea of workplace norms and thinks he’s supposed to notify you when he starts formally looking for other work … ? Maybe it’s connected in some way to the contract, like he thinks the formality of the contract demands this sort of formality when he’s thinking about breaking it? I dunno.

I’m skeptical that he has seemed to have a strong grasp of workplace norms up until this point, so I’m guessing you’ve seen other stuff from him that will let you figure out if it’s more likely to be #1 or #2.

As for whether it constitutes a resignation … it depends on whether your purposes are practical or legal ones. For practical purposes and if there weren’t a contract involved, I’d treat it as a resignation — he’s asking if you want him to leave by December or in the spring, so I’d decide which one you want (advice: December, if not earlier) and let him know. As in, “Let’s plan on December then, and we’ll set December 12 as your last day.” Or, if you judge that it would be harmful to have stick around that long because of his work or his conduct, you could say, “Let’s actually plan to have you wrap up by (insert earlier date).”

But there’s a contract involved, so you’ve got to go by what the contract requires in terms of notice on both sides, etc. You can certainly decide to let him out of the contract earlier (and it sounds like you should), but when a binding contract is in play, that’s going to govern how you can respond, at least to some extent.

All that said … if this guy’s work was good up until now and you’d actually prefer it if he’d stay — and if and this isn’t characteristic of his conduct before now — another approach is to just ask him what’s up. Call him in for a meeting and ask what’s going on. Explain you can’t meet the demands in the letter and ask what he wants to do, given that. Talk to him enough to get a sense of what this is all about. Was there some precipitating incident that pushed him over the edge into weird I Am Writing To Notify You I Am Thinking About Leaving territory? Did he feel mortified right after sending the letter and wishes he could take it back? Did he send these letters at all his past jobs when he was ready to leave? Unless the letter struck you as utterly typical of him, it’s probably worth a conversation to find out what’s going on before you do anything else.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 678 comments… read them below }

        1. KaciHall*

          My favorite was the person who tried to email the regional manager asking for a promotion or at least a transfer but not to tell his boss. He emailed the region, instead. And the Reply All storm that followed meant that absolutely everyone saw it.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            Dang. Sinister was the one above.
            This. This is embarrassment level: showing up to test naked nightmare.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I will buy you a drink of choice, OP, if you would pretty please respond to his letter with this as the header.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I would too, contingent on the OP providing a followup on this. (come to think of it, we could probably raise enough money for a round for the bar)

      2. T2*

        We had a guy try this with us. Put a letter on my desk at the end of the day on a Friday. I happened to go back to my desk before leaving for the day.

        Needless to say, I had his accounts disabled in 20 mins. And then forwarded it to Grandboss. he was let go on the spot.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          linger, this reminds of a line from the movie Blues Brothers, where they are going through all of Jake’s possessions at the prison and they say “One unused prophylactic. One soiled.” Hilarious!!!

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I think my head just spun through every sitcom and came up with a montage of “Dramatic Intent to Flounce/Good Day/My Spot/a few other doozies”. Might have thrown a few ridiculous musical numbers in too.

      Undercaffeinated. I am undercaffeinated and this is how my brain (doesn’t work) when under this state.

    2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      I died laughing at “Intent to Flounce.” That turn of phrase is just – it’s chef’s kiss, standing ovation, ticker tape parade level of delightful.

    3. Cat Tree*

      This is the letter you type in an email with nothing in the “To” field and never send it. But this guy actually sent it!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Which is why, if I feel the need to write anything like this, I do it in Notepad where it cannot possibly be sent accidentally.

    4. quill*

      Dearest commentariat,

      I hereby inform you of my Intent to Flounce, effective on Leap Day. I will be departing my Llama groomer position to move to Ramen Island for a life as a beverage snorkeler. For further information, please consult the cod display at my desk.

      The Office Turtle.

          1. Watry*

            Oh my goodness, I’m crying I’m laughing so hard. Just imagining one of my coworkers slowly air-swimming out of the office while infecting surfaces.

      1. dogmom*

        But according to that LW who didn’t recognize the employee with Leap Day as a birthday, Leap Day is not an actual day and therefore you can’t resign on it!

      2. Candi*

        “please consult the cod display at my desk”

        Cherry. on. top. This is beautiful, a glorious microcosm of site lore beautifully crafted.

      3. DrRat*

        Does Alison need to have a contest for Best Band Name based on a letter or comment? Because I would absolutely go see a band called Flouncing Turtle. Especially if Cheap Ass Rolls was the opening act.

      4. Llama face!*

        Hey, it’s all good just as long as you don’t poop in the potted plant or curse your soon-to-be-former workplace. Though perhaps you could announce your intention to confront your boss by Wednesday regarding the intended flounce for added professional flair?

    5. knitcrazybooknut*

      I really and truly miss all of the drama llama flounces that used to happen on livejournal groups! Another version of petty TikTok.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have seen the occasional attempted flounce in the comments here. I find that extremely weird, because this isn’t really a social networking site, nobody has followers or friends and therefore nobody really has any idea whether or not one commenter leaving would actually make a huge difference.
        Attempted flounces are a lot more meaningful if you know that you’re really valued by your workplace or by an online community. Otherwise, they’re just pointless and a bit sad.

      2. COHikerGirl*

        Oh my gosh, the flounces of LiveJournal were amazing. I have yet to see anything quite so good. Until this. This is LJ-level flouncing.

        1. Windchime*

          We used to have some pretty spectacular flounces back in the IRC channels a couple of decades ago. Combine that with the ability to kick people out of channels …….baby, it was the Wild West.

      3. The Other Katie*

        The good thing about livejournal flounces was that, unlike more modern social media, evvvverybody saw it. My favourite was when they tried to flounce but got their skirt stuck in the door.

    6. ENFP in Texas*

      And the nominees for “Most Dramatic Exit From A Job Or Workplace” are…

      (As an aside, I now have Bluey in my head as a result of reading your username. If that was your intent – kudos! )

      1. Need a WFH policy*

        We had a guy retire by sending an email at 9:30 pm that addressed “all you WH0RE$ and SYCOPHANTS” and included the phrase “my sock is full” with his retirement effective immediately. He sent it to the majority of the company.

        It. Was. Amazing.

  1. Clorinda*

    Have you told him, the things you want can’t happen because of these reasons (as you so clearly laid out to Alison, he wants things that don’t exist)? And if so, what did he do or say?
    I mean, this could well be a self-limiting problem, in that he will simply leave.

        1. A Person*

          Contractor. “He’s got a year-long contract that runs through June”. June! So he’s maybe 3 months into this contract but it sounds like he’s been there for at least one previous contract?

          1. Candi*

            Not necessarily. It’s much rarer in the US than in other countries, but regular employees can have contracts. There’s a few posts in the archives, usually with higher-level positions where (legal) clarity is important.

      1. Worldwalker*

        That sounds like 99 problems right there. If he’s unclear on what exactly his job is, how well can he actually do it?

        1. Candi*

          Judging from the statement in the letter that he’s made “significant” contributions, he’s capable of doing tasks well. But from the other statements, he doesn’t seem clear on what his lane is, and the protocols for when or if he should reach outside it.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            I read the “significant” as employee’s own description of his contribution, but I could be wrong.

    1. Snark*

      The Intent to Flounce is getting all the attention, but it’s also worth noting that most state governments, not to mention the Feds, classify and grade positions and their titled and descriptions. That classification determines job title, pay, the schedule and amount of periodic step increases, whether the employee can unionize, all of it.

      So either this guy is doing whatever the state equivalent of demanding to be GS-9000-20 Grand Poobah, which doesn’t exist, and he knows it because he was hired on the basis of whatever system they actually use, or he’s a contractor and this is somehow even more wildly out of line and weird. Having been a contractor in the past, the idea going to the client and demanding a raise equivalent to their director and a fancy title ranks with showing up to work in a pinwheel hat and no pants.

      I’m not clear based on the letter whether this is a contractor-client or a manager-direct report relationship, but either way, he’s out of line in a way that anyone in either role should know better.

      1. Snark*

        Never mind, I finally registered the discussion below about academia. Even still – this guy’s an adjunct, it sounds like, demanding an assistant professorship on the faculty track and something like an endowment chair? When there’s no such vacant line? AAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.

      2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        ” showing up to work in a pinwheel hat and no pants.”


        This thread is really bringing out the genius comedian in people.

  2. Cards Fan*

    Oh, I seriously believe you need an extra capital letter for Dramatic Intent to Flounce. I’m holding this phrase in my head for the next time I need it.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Or Notice of Intent to Dramatically Flounce?
      I think we need to be very clear whether it is the intent, or the flounce, (or both) which are to be dramatic.

    2. Anon and on an on*

      It reminds me of when I was visiting a friend. Her two year old threw himself on the floor and thrashed his arms and legs. I felt so bad! I started to go over to comfort him, but before I got there, he realized his mom had left the room, so he got his little self up and marched off to find her, whereupon he threw himself on the floor and thrashed his arms and legs.
      I should ask her where he’s working these days.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        My father, when he was about four years old, went in a flounce to bang his head against the wall because he wasn’t allowed a fourth teaspoon of sugar in his tea. His father wandered by a minute or two later and told him calmly, “When you get a headache, and you will, come get an aspirin and go to bed.”

        He got a headache eventually, went embarrassedly to his father for an aspirin, and went to bed. He was four, not stupid. Never tried that one again… and, having heard the story early in my childhood, neither did I. I knew exactly what he’d do if I ever tried to manipulate him via tantrum, so I never tried it.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Oh yes – the op has been updating us and answering questions in the comments – but when all is over I’d love an overall update that gives us the full “this is how it ended” rundown.

  3. Uncle Bob*

    Is this perhaps a non-US thing, like in a country where you need to give 4 months notice by law? Otherwise it makes no sense, contract or not. Or was it instead someone who thought this odd email was an attempt to be super nice and give you 3+ month notice so you can plan ahead?

    1. sunglass*

      I have a three month notice period, but you’d still just submit a normal letter of resignation, and you wouldn’t ask if you should leave in December or June – you’d state what your last day is going to be. This letter seems deeply strange.

      1. anonymous73*

        Just curious but how does that even work? You can’t look for another job because nobody is going to wait for 3 months until you can leave, and in my experience it takes longer than 3 months to find a job and most people can’t just quit without another job lined up…

        But yes, this letter is very strange – sounds like someone is delusional, and it’s not OP.

        1. TechWorker*

          In countries where long notice periods are common, companies do indeed wait three months between hiring you and you actually starting. They might not be ecstatic about it but it’s not unheard of at all.

        2. DistantAudacity*

          In my country, the 3 month notice period is the norm.

          So, the whole work hiring is geared around it – it is expected that if you are hired now, you can start in 3 months. And there are similar timelines for hiring a replacements.

          Parties can agree to shorter timelines if that suits everyone, but usually the departing employer won’t want to do that because of the time it takes for them to get a replacement/continue to get your good work, etc.

          Note that everyone has a work contract. If the contract does not state a notice period, it defaults to the law and that is 6 months. The notice period goes both ways, if your employer should wish to fire you.

          1. NACSACJACK*

            So if you’re fired, you have six months notice that you’ve been fired and you have to work through those six months?

            1. Sleeve McQueen*

              I’ve noticed that Americans sometimes seem to use “fired” to cover any circumstance where the employer lets an employee go, but where I live it, it would specifically mean being let go for serious misconduct, in which case your notice period is void and you would be terminated immediately. If you resign and they don’t want you in the office for your notice, you’d still be paid out, but you wouldn’t be able to work anywhere else for that period either (colloquially, gardening leave). If you were making the redundant you would pay them their notice period, but you also need to demonstrate that you are legitimately eliminating the role (you can’t make a llama groomer redundant and then hire another llama groomer instead). There are laws around unfair dismissal so you’d need to be careful but in a “eh, this isn’t working out for both of us” situation – you’d have to mutually agree to wind it up and you’d either have them serve out their notice or just pay it out. We also have probationary periods for new employees which have much shorter notice periods which allows both parties to test the waters.

            2. Fried Eggs*

              In my country, three months notice is the norm, and it goes both ways. The thing is there are also strict labor laws, so they can’t just fire you for no reason, regardless of the notice period.

              Here are the ways an employment agreement can end:
              – The employee quits, giving 3 months notice.
              – The employment contract has an end date and runs out as scheduled. The company decides not to extend it.
              – The company eliminates the employee’s position or division entirely. Then they must give the employee 3 months advance notice. Usually they will keep paying you for 3 months, but don’t expect you to keep working (or want you in the office bringing down morale). Technically though, they can require you to keep doing your job for those 3 months.
              – There are strict rules about how layoffs like those above have to be handled. To keep employees who got laid off from suing, companies frequently offer a generous severance as an incentive to end the contract by “mutual agreement.” Then it is legally a resignation – you get a big chunk of change and are out of your contract immediately.
              – If the employee does something egregious, like stealing or refusing to work, then the company can fire them with no notice.

    2. londonedit*

      In the UK standard notice periods tend to range from 1-3 months, but this would be absolutely 100% a strange and bizarre thing to do here. Leaving a job works in just the same way as in the US – you tell your boss you’re leaving, you sort out your last day etc and you do a quick ‘To confirm I will be leaving Teapots Inc on October 15th 2021’ email/letter if asked to (but it’s by no means required). No one needs to give any notice of an intention to start looking for another job.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Exactly. And if you want to leave early but have a fixed term contract then you would be asking to agree an early termination of the contract, and I strongly suspect that in Flouncy Mc McFlounce’s case it would be approved.

        (We once had someone tell (not ask)us that their notice period would be shortened.
        They hadn’t a leg to stand on, our employment contracts are clear and specific but we were more than happy to accommodate their request. we were more than happy for them to go and the sooner the better. Although given that the person concerned is a lawyer we did comment among ourselves at their apparently inability to read or understand a simple contract )

          1. Anomalous*

            Another way to phrase it would be “Flouncy McFlounceface”, in the spirit of proposed name of the UK research vessel, the RSS Sir David Attenborourgh.

        1. Candi*

          I’m reading “he made a metric ton of extra work for us, and brought nothing to the table to make up for it.” And a bit of “don’t let the door hit your posterior on the way out.”

    3. Annony*

      All I can think of is that he wants it to be nebulous. Then if he gets an offer he can point to the letter and say that it was him giving notice. If he doesn’t, he can say that he never said he was resigning.

    4. OP*

      It’s academia. He’s either leaving at the end of the fall or spring semester. At least he hasn’t threatened to leave mid-semester! (yet!)

      How he thinks he’ll get a tenure-track position by January is something I will never understand. It’s a hot field, but academia doesn’t work that way.

        1. F.M.*

          I would offer to complete your next sentence for you, but I’m still suck on OH MY GOD too. That’s… wow. That’s. That’s something, huh. This is basically a congressional intern demanding to be seated as a state senator.

      1. Nesprin*

        Wow that makes things even weirder.

        The tenure track job market does not work around your schedule, you work around it. And while asking for a counteroffer is a thing, you don’t do that till you have an offer in hand, and even then you negotiate over a phone call.

      2. just a random teacher*

        Well, being in academia makes it make both more and less sense. I can see it more clearly in my head now, anyway.

        Is Dr. Flouncipants expecting to have a new, fancier job in academia lined up by January (implausible by my grasp of the hiring cycle)? Or is this an exit to industry situation?

        I’d recommend running the letter by HR, and assuming they don’t see it as binding give Dr. Flouncipants a set of directions on This Is How You Resign/End Your Contract Early, Using Precisely This Process Or It Doesn’t Count. Then put the ball back in their court and leave it there.

        (In k-12, it does at least make sense to resign months in advance – I’ve resigned jobs in February or March effective end of June before, and that process did include writing a formal letter. I’m guessing academia is somewhat similar, but that this still isn’t quite the way to do that.)

        1. OP*

          He’s currently a lecturer and wants an Assistant Professorship with a “fancy title” (the “fancy title” is a direct quote from the letter). I’ve told him several times that we don’t *have* an open Assistant Professor line, getting one would mean budget approval and sign off from the President, and, even then, we’d have to do an open search per State regulations. It doesn’t seem to sink in.

          1. rural academic*

            Oh, well, tenured faculty should just be able to turn lecturer jobs into Fancypants Assistant Professorships with no problem, if he just formally notifies you that’s what he wants.

            I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I’d be inclined to schedule a class visit or talk to some students to see if there’s anything similarly off-the-wall going on in the classroom.

              1. TrackingCookieMonster*

                I can only *imagine* the RateMyProfessor reviews.

                Not that those shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt, but if this person’s even as close to exasperating for their students as they are the management…

              2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Yeah – I’m a bit concerned about his teaching given some of the stuff you have posted.

              3. Candi*

                I hope you have some really good assistants. -_- I swear, my professors are sometimes trying to shove 36 hours of work into 18 hours just to have time to breath.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Congratulations: this is the winning entry in today’s contest for “good reasons I’m still working at home so people don’t ask why I’m laughing so hard.”

          2. OrigCassandra*


            I uh.

            WOW. That’s not how this works. Especially for somebody trying to flounce on what isn’t even a tenure-track appointment to start with. (I’m guessing visiting or postdoc?)

            Is Dr. Flounceypants teaching for you? I might run a message up the chain to have some kind of plan if Dr. F flounces mid-semester. Otherwise, yes, see if the contract lets you bounce Dr. F after the fall semester. Because wow, I wouldn’t want to keep Dr. F around for spring. Hard to imagine somebody at that level of Not Getting It is effective in the classroom.

            1. Snark*

              You know what else he wouldn’t be getting? On the tenure track, anywhere. This stuff gets around. Academic fields aren’t that big.

              1. OrigCassandra*

                No joke! My department did some searches a couple years ago, and heck yeah we asked the grapevine for everything it knew about the candidates.

                (I’m very happy with our new hires! They’re pretty great! Zero Flounceypantses among them!)

                1. JustaTech*

                  And that grapevine is old and deep. There’s a guy, somewhere, who is still known as “the guy who bit somebody” after a drunken incident at a herpetology conference back in the 80’s.

                  (Top tip: don’t bite people. Tip: don’t go into herpetology if you don’t want to get bitten at least once or twice.)

                2. Working Hypothesis*

                  Oh my. We have a herpetologist in the family… and one who was already in the field by the 1980s. I am contacting him to beg for more information about the Guy who Bit. I need to know the whole story!

              2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Yup – Dude is cratering his Academic Reputation in style while being totally and blissfully unaware of what he is doing.

            2. Susan Ivanova*

              Even the grad students and postdocs I know who are at that level of Not Getting It for day-to-day life have a pretty firm grasp of Tenure Tracks and Where To Find Them.

              1. The Other Katie*

                Even as a grad student with only vague academia career dreams, I am 100% aware that turning a non-tenure track lecturer job into a tenure-track assistant professor job is like turning an ice cream cone into a taxidermied walrus.

            3. Amaranth*

              I’ve had fantastic professors who couldn’t figure out personal interaction for anything. I don’t know how they managed the politics of academia.

              1. Candi*

                I suspect fantastic assistants handling politics and a bunch of other things, in some cases.

                I know I read a story where one professor kept putting his admin. asst. on his scholarly papers. Turns out she was the one turning his mangled notes into readable prose, so he gave her due credit for her contribution.

              2. Quidge*

                By giving off the impression they couldn’t figure out personal interaction for anything ;)

                My own PhD advisor was a master of the ol’ “Oh deary me, I seem to have mislaid my X, can I get back to you?” *proceeds to cheerfully ignore asshole’s emails about thing he doesn’t agree with as long as humanly possible*

                The “Bumbling professor” archetype is an evolutionary response to the “Brilliant jerk” archetype; most senior faculty I know end up being one or the other.

          3. ecnaseener*

            Omg. Tell him he’s more than welcome to add the word “Fancy” in front of his current title in his email signature

          4. After 33 years ...*

            Wow. I have run into people who think that way, but none who weren’t convinced after one or two discussions that instant promotion to Assistant Professor doesn’t happen. Most of those people chose to depart universities shortly thereafter. Perhaps he thinks he could get promoted to Full elsewhere …
            I’m very concerned that his attitude may be seeping through to students. For that reason, I would be looking at early termination of the contract. Sometimes, it’s better to cancel a course rather than to offer students a bad one. Anyone who regards a professorship as a “fancy title” rather than a suite of responsibilities would give me concern.
            Faculty have indicated that they’re looking for other opportunities during teaching semesters, but it’s usually informal, and understood that our university cannot “outbid” a better offer from another place.
            All sympathy and best of luck!

          5. Srsly*

            I mean, OP, if this is a hot field and you get approval from HR, I’d look for another lecturer for Spring semester. Yes, I know, adjunctification is awful and exploitative and all that, but it’s just so deeply strange that an adjunct, of all people, would not understand that you can’t just *create* a T-T job out of thin air and offer it to someone, just like that!

            Dude has crossed a line, is what I’m saying – and given that you’ve had this conversation before, his staying suggests you run the risk of having it again and again…

          6. Me*

            I think maybe you are giving him too much info. There are people who will hear you say all that and hear “So there’s still a chance”.

            Most people would recognize that means not happening ever. I don’t think your employee is most people.

            1. OP*

              We had to have a discussion about expectations because he kept complaining that his teaching load was too high, and he needed more time for research. As a lecturer.

              1. Srsly*

                Just. No.
                Dude does not get it – which is honestly strange, for someone who’s presumably come up the ranks of a doctoral program (unless this is terminal master’s discipline). And honestly, I’d worry about his bitterness seeping into his teaching.

                Thankfully, cc’ing the Dean on madness like this spells the end for him, but not sure he’ll ever get to see the inside of another department after such a stunt.

              2. Snark*


                Does the dude simply not understand that he’s not a tenured professor or something? The mind reels.

              3. Butterfly Counter*

                At my university, a lecturer can get a grant and use part of the money to buy out one or two classes using a part-timer. But the teaching load is the teaching load. We lecturers are here to teach so that there are enough classes for students and enough time for tenured faculty to research.

                1. OP*

                  Yes, if he got a grant, I’d be happy to buy him out of some of his teaching time. We even provide a small, but adequate amount of $$$ for faculty research that he uses (so long as he involves undergrads), but that’s not part of his teaching responsibilities.

              4. OnceALecturer*

                This is… not someone you want working for your department long-term. (I’m in a similar position – generally the instructors with a poor understanding of how the responsibilities of the job worked also had significant problems in how they dealt with their students.)

              5. Amaranth*

                Is this his first job and someone trolled the heck out of him and gave him a totally unrealistic ‘guarantee’ of his job conditions?

              6. PT*

                My guess is this dude will end up fired from his adjunct gig for his ridiculous behavior and then be all over Buzzfeed and Medium writing stories about how mean and impossible academia is and how hard it is for adjuncts to find tenure track positions.

                When the reason he did not succeed was because he did not understand his career path and refused to follow it and instead was off skipping around in the daisies.

              7. AES*

                Omg OP I am dying from this. I am a department chair and have had to have similar convos with some of our adjuncts (“no, you cannot just be hired into a TT role because you have taught here for seven semesters”) but this is SPECTACULARLY batshit. Bless this dude’s heart; never hire him again.

                1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  I think he has shown all and sundry who he is – and he seems to have given the institution all they need to mark him “ineligible for rehire” that they could ever need.

              8. PlantProf*

                My eyebrows just go further up each update, although they’re probably at their limit now. Wow. This is seriously delusional.

              9. Who knows?*

                Is he possibly (and this is a generous reading of the situation!) confusing his title of “Lecturer” with the way that other countries use the title? Lecturers in the UK generally do have time for research built in to their schedules, unless they’re on a ‘teaching track’ specifically, so maybe that’s where he’s coming from with this request/demand/expectation?

              10. Not Tom, Just Petty*

                Ow. I worked in STEM departments in universities for years. My eyebrows when up so high and hard that my glasses are now crooked.

          7. AngryOwl*

            I’m sorry you are dealing with this, but I’m having a rough day and the fact that “fancy title” is a direct quote has helped a lot.

            1. Empress Matilda*

              Same. Also I am going to write to my boss immediately, and ask for the word Fancy to be added to my job title as ecnaseener suggests above. I feel like it would add a certain amount of gravitas, you know?

              Empress Matilda
              Fancy Manager of Teapot Management

            2. L.H. Puttgrass*

              What kind of “Fancy Title” does Lecturer McFlouncypants think he’ll get, anyway? I mean, I still think “Assistant Professor” is pretty darn fancy, myself, and you generally don’t get “Wakeen Endowed Chair of Teapot Studies” type titles unless you’re a full professor. The fanciest titles I’ve seen in academia, aside from named chairs, are things like “Director of the Applied Teapot Studies Institute,” which you get by bringing in loads and loads of money to found the thing.

              I’m really curious what this guy’s field is that he thinks he’s so hot that he can jump tracks from “Lecturer” to “Fancy Assistant Professor.” Does he have a multimillion-dollar grant in his pocket or something?

          8. ArtsyGirl*

            I am a graduate student whose academic work has been assigned TA positions and even I know this is not how hiring cycles and positions work at universities. How he got so far either tuning this out or willfully ignoring it because he is a special snowflake is insane. I actually stated outloud “is he high” when I read this.

            1. Lurker*

              I am not even in academia (and never have been, other than being a grad student – but had no TA responsibilities) and could use common sense to determine that what he is demanding is not how things work.

            2. Splendid Colors*

              Same. I think I knew this by the end of my first month in a Master’s program (because my PI needed to correct a lot of misinformation I’d gotten at my previous program… maybe Fancy Lecturer didn’t have that kind of PI?)

          9. Bagpuss*

            I’d be inclined (Subject to running in past your HR / Legal team) to respond and treat it as a resignation.

            Get them to OK the wording but something such as
            “I acknowledge receipt of your letter confirming your decision to leave, and the request to di so prior to the end of your current contract. Having discussed this with Legal/HR, we are able to agree this request and confirm that your last day will be [ I’d go with the earlier date because he he doesn’t sound like someone who you want around, but if you won’t be able to get cover by then then give the later date] ”

            that way, if he doesn’t actually want to resign he will need to explicitly say so, and if he doesn’t come back and say that’s not what he is doing then at least you know where you are and can plan ahead.

            If the contract is with his agency not him then you can presumably simply confirm to him the date and to them that you need a different lecturer

            1. SykesFive*

              I would definitely run this past HR/Legal. If you treat something as a resignation that was not a resignation, then you may have just terminated or constructively terminated someone, breached the employment contract, etc. This kind of thing may also lead to bad blood and negative publicity. “I just wanted to let my dean and chair know I was unhappy, but they fire me and said I had quit.”

              The contract is surely with the individual. The point of specifying the employee is contractual is that there was not an expectation of working longer than one year. Term contract hires like this are pretty common in academia and distinguish the contract faculty from tenure-stream faculty.

              1. Moxie*

                Running things past Legal and HR is the way to go.
                Fergus, the annoying accountant where I worked in the 80s, was doing a lot of strange stuff with respect to other employees including a couple of more senior folks. I wondered why they did not get rid of him but suspected, given the work of the organization, the Fergus had been let into to some info that was the accounting equivalent of knowing where some bodies were buried. (I knew enough through my work to make this plausible.)
                Anyway, Fergus came in one Monday morning, tossed the Sunday want ads on his boss’s desk, points to a couple of the accountant ads he circled and announced that he would leave if he wasn’t given an immediate raise to match the salaries stated in the ads. His boss said it would not be possible and ended the conversation, whereupon boss promptly ran into my boss’ (HR head) office and told what had just transpired. She then ran over to grandboss’ office, told him what had gone on, and after grandboss made a call, the two of them ran out to consult the company’s lawyer. When they came back, Fergus’s boss and the HR head called him in and informed him that it was his last day, had hi dsign an NDA that the lawyer drafted, and told him he was to leave immediately He was handed a box with his hastily gathered personal items and asked to leave the premises.
                The company’s lawyer said that, based on the jurisdiction’s law at the time, Fergus’ demand was a de facto resignation and that it was in the company’s interest to get him out immediately given the other nonsense he was pulling.

          10. Overeducated*

            This actually seems simpler and easier then, because the dates really aren’t arbitrary. It seems like you should just talk to him and say “I received your letter and unfortunately cannot change your position, should I understand this as your formal notification that you intend to leave after the fall semester rather than maintaining your position through the end of classes in June?”

          11. HarvestKaleSlaw*

            This can’t possibly be a career academic. Was this a lecturer you pulled in for a professional program because they had experience in the field they are teaching?

          12. Betty Broderick-Allen*

            How on Earth did he get this far in academia – even if he’s just got the bare minimum of 18 graduate credit hours under his belt – and still harbor this wild belief, this bizarre fantasy, that such a request could work? How can he not understand the job market to this extreme degree? I am flummoxed.

            He must have worked very hard to avoid knowing that just isn’t how any of this works.

          13. Just The Lipstick Tooth Stain to Your Interview Condom*

            I’d be sorely tempted to make a placard for “Lecturer, fancy title” at that… I mean, people might want fancier sounding titles but normally give an example or something other than fancy.

          14. WhatTheCinnamonToastF*

            Boy, this is familiar territory. I worked for several years with a TT prof who *really* wanted to work FT for a major international agency, not the uni we were at. He finally told the uni if he didn’t get what he asked for, the agency would meet those demands. The university held the door and invited him to flounce, and because he’d rather backed himself into a corner, he did indeed flounce.

            The interesting bit? I don’t know what he was asking for, but he went to work at the agency for his usual 3-4 month contract, and nothing else ever materialized. We all speculated there was never actually an offer, just used that side to keep trying to leverage more from the uni. Which, like most unis, wasn’t going to be able to meet impossible demands.

      3. Not really a Waitress*

        I was an instructor in Academia at a State University, I left mid contract (at end of fall semester) with no issues ( I needed to move for family issues). Someone else in my department in a previous year was invited to end their contract in October at the end of the semester (that’s a whole nother letter.) If you want him gone by December plan that he is leaving and look to covering his sections for next semester.

      4. AFac*

        I’ve just realized that because it’s academia that when you said he sent it to your boss and your boss’ boss, that meant he sent it to the Dean and the Provost (or their rough equivalents).


          1. OP*

            I’m the Chair (and, yeah, maybe I should send this to their writing team). He sent it to the Assistant Dean (my boss) and Dean (my boss’ boss).

            1. DrRat*

              The Dean. He…sent this. To. The. Dean.

              I would just like to point out the bright side of this, which is that you can dine out on this FOREVER. Next time you’re at an academic party or dinner or conference and people start talking about their clueless people, you have One Flounce to Rule Them All.

              1. EmmaPoet*

                Seriously, people will invite you just to get you to tell this story so they can scream with helpless laughter.

              2. GlitsyGus*

                Hey, at least he’s getting that fancy title he was looking for! Dr. Flouncypance, the One Flounce to Rule Them All, PhD.

            2. Lizard Breath*

     the Dean…asking for a fancy title….

              I mean, I left my PhD program with a terminal master’s and my current academic appointment is mostly just to let me grade medical students, and even I know that this is wildly out of all norms.

              I would honestly not be surprised to find out that either A) he got suuuuuuper high and decided to self-actualize, or B) he’s off the meds that normally keep him on a more even keel.

              1. Holly Handbasket*

                Hi Lizard Breath. I’m sure it wasn’t your intention, but b continues to contribute to the stigma of mental health and taking meds. It’s perfectly possible that this guy is just an idiot, rather than being on meds.

            3. Industrial Tea Machine*

              Trying to imagine a dean being like, “Look at this letter! A lecturer is unhappy! This will not stand!”


      5. High school teacher*

        I am a teacher, and when I worked in private K-12 education, we were required to submit a letter of intent every spring so that admin could begin advertising our positions early. Perhaps this person comes from a similar background?

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Huh, I’ve worked in several K-12 private schools and have never heard of this. We get new contracts every spring and either sign them or not. The administration encourages us to share our plans earlier if possible (like if you know in January that you’re going to retire at the end of the school year) but even then it’s just “have a conversation with your division director”, not “write a formal letter.” (Not saying your way isn’t also common – I’ve only worked in a couple schools, not vast numbers of them.)

          1. just a random teacher*

            In public k-12, some districts will have financial incentives if you let them know you’re leaving by a certain date so they can more easily hire for your position. I got a $300 “retirement bonus” once for resigning in March effective end of June. (I was not retiring, I was running away screaming, but they gave me a potted plant and a framed photograph of the school at the end of year retirement party anyway. Half of the “retirees” were in our twenties, and this was not acknowledged in the slightest by the admin, who acted like we all were going to spend the next year at home gardening and catching up with our grandchildren.)

        2. AMM*

          I had absolutely no idea that a Letter of Intent could be anything other than a formal notification between companies of the intention to do business together. Thank you for educating me!

      6. Wants Green Things*

        Oh that just puts a whole new spin on things. Academia isn’t exactly known for moving quickly, or pulling new titles and positions out of thin air. I would definitely consult with the contract person and start treating this as a resignation.

      7. Where’s the Orchestra?*


        Um, yeah sorry, but that is not remotely the way any of this works.

        Federal Gov’t employee married to another Fed Employee whose SIL is just starting the tenure process at a state university.

      8. DancinProf*

        I read AAM religiously because I am a career academic and I appreciate the level-setting to broader professional norms that this column provides. Of course, the majority of my friends & colleagues in academia are impeccably professional in their words and actions. But there are always those few who vastly overestimate their importance and wear their ignorance of professionalism as a badge of honor.

        In conclusion, and to sum up, bless his heart.

      9. Worldwalker*

        As I understand it, things like that move at the pace of a fossilized snail in molasses in January. And he expects….

        Yeah, I know academia is weird, but nothing is *this* weird.

      10. Butterfly Counter*

        Wait wait WHAT.

        I too am a non-tenure track and contract worker. I have applied to tenure track positions and have helped my department hire tenure track positions. The decision to add a tenure line is a hugely fraught issue, especially with higher education budgets getting slashed left and right. And then the process to hire for these lines needs SO MUCH time to implement correctly, especially in publicly funded universities.

        Honestly, this person is just so out of touch I wouldn’t trust them to teach anything.

      11. kitkat*

        This being academia explains a lot! I worked for a state university for a long time and honestly, some academics really do operate in this weird parallel universe of That’s Not A Thing.

      12. NamelessOne*

        I used to work in admin at a university and my head is spinning right now over this situation.


      13. Velawciraptor*

        That’s….that’s just not how anything works. I’m just a humble lawyer, but I know enough about academia to know that’s not how anything works. How… How can someone in that world think this is how anything works?

        I feel like that one Firefly gif where Mal keeps trying to find something to say and just winds up resting his chin on his hand because…HOW?

      14. tra la la*

        Oh my God. If he’s just out of graduate school, his advisor/doctoral program has seriously failed him. If he isn’t just out of graduate school, he has somehow managed to live in a delusional bubble for however long because he has NO idea of how academia works. At all. Wow.

        Definitely keep an eye on his teaching, because I’d wonder if he’d be trying to recruit students to promote his cause.

  4. Nanani*

    Does the letter signify an intent to break contract, and what are the penalties on him for doing that?
    Maybe an email from a very stuffy department about the ramifications of breaking contract, should he proceed, would get him to come clarify things for his own sake.

    1. Jennifer*

      It for sure sounds like something I’ve said in my own head before about a job that I thought was not paying me adequately or whatever but I would never threaten to leave, I would just…leave.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Maybe he already did? And he’s spent the last week yelling SHOW ME THE MONEY into his phone to psych himself up?

    2. Mockingjay*

      Most contracts for state and federal agencies are awarded to companies to provide broad services, not individual staff members. There are exceptions for subject matter experts. If he’s a SME, then his letter could be construed as notice. If he works for a contracting company, then he should provide notice to the company, who then informs the government agency.

      Note: most contractor employees have NO idea how the contracts came to be; usually only a small group of writers and senior managers do proposals as company proprietary business. They’ve never had to learn the nuances of government contract law and policies. They’ve never seen a labor category list (which defines duties and required skills) or learned that a Cost Plus Fixed Fee contract leaves very little wiggle room for raises. So they don’t understand why they can’t be promoted or move into a different job until the next contract is awarded.

      If Flouncer is directly contracted by the agency as a SME, lack of knowledge of contract language, plus his state is likely At Will (all but Montana, correct?), might leave him to believe that things are more flexible than reality.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        In another thread, the OP clarified that this is academia and Flouncer is a lecturer who is demanding an assistant professorship “with a fancy title”. Having worked for government agencies and watch friends go through professorship/tenure/etc stuff in academia, I’m pretty sure that academia is even less flexible than government agencies about jobs and hiring schedules (i.e. they have hiring and tenure application seasons and if you miss then, you’re SOL but governments tend to hire year round).

    3. CmdrShepard*

      There may not actually be a “contract” but rather it is still technically employment at will but the person was hired with a specific time frame that the job would run 1 year, 6 months etc… I think people often use the word contract for short term or temporary work assignments when the employer is not actually obligated to keep them on for that long.

      It really depends if there is an actual contract of work for a specific set of time, with terms/penalties for breaking the contract.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        I’m also a lecturer like the OP’s problem employee. My contract does set up a time frame around the school calendar, usually a 9 month of the year employment for 2 years starting in late August and going until May of the year after next. The department sets the number of classes considered “full time” for lecturers and it does vary by department and college. I don’t think there’s any penalty for ending the contract early, especially for things like moving or some other job opportunity coming up. But it is expected for you to finish out your classes for the semester before leaving. Otherwise, you’re going to have major issues when it comes to if the class will continue, and if not, how do students get their tuition back and get back on track for the credits they need to graduate in a timely manner? Leaving mid-semester for anything less than a crisis is going to get around academic circles and really hurt that person in the long run.

        1. Candi*

          The students on FAFSA… the Financial Aid office and the students’ advisors will not be happy -they’ll be cleaning up that mess. I think the Registrar’s office is in there too, but I can’t swear to it.

          My university (non-traditional student) is offering minimal questions asked shift from grading to S/NS for students who have trouble in their classes due to covid. (Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory). It’s not something they’re entirely happy about but regard as a necessity. It makes it easier for the students to deal with FAFSA and the college when sorting out how to get their full credits, and it lowers the impact on their grade average.

          To have to do that because a lecturer popped off mid-semester because he couldn’t get a “fancy title” and a non-existent position, and getting a sub in proved problematic? They are not going to be happy. At all.

          1. OP*

            That will NOT happen, even if I have to teach 2 classes outside of my specialty. Those classes will be taught, and, if even remotely possible, taught adequately. I’m not leaving my students hanging, no way, no how.

            1. Just The Lipstick Tooth Stain to Your Interview Condom*

              Just want to say that I admire your dedication to your students. I’ve dealt with far too many who didn’t have it, and this is wonderful to see. They are lucky to have you!

  5. Rage*

    “Hello, Dramatic Flounce Agency. This is Rage, Flounce Intent Specialist. How might I over-react with you today?”

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      NTJP: “Hello, I’d like to speak to some…”
      Rage: “Please hold” clicks over to Jim Croce:

      Well, I should be sittin’ in an air conditioned office
      In a swivel chair
      Talkin’ some trash to the secretaries
      Sayin’, “here, now mama, come on over here”
      Instead, I’m stuck here rubbin’ these fenders with a rag
      And walkin’ home in soggy old shoes
      With them steadily depressin’, low down mind messin’
      Workin’ at the car wash blues
      You know a man of my ability
      He should be smokin’ on a big cigar
      But ’til I get myself straight I guess I’ll just have to wait
      In my rubber suit rubbin’ these cars
      Well, all I can do is to shake my head
      You might not believe that it’s true
      For workin’ at this end of Niagara Falls
      Is an undiscovered Howard Hughes
      So baby, don’t expect to see me
      With no double martini in any high brow society news

      1. Catalin*

        Oh, you wanted Flouncing Intent Coaching? No! This is ‘How to be an adult at work seminar.” You want two doors down, just past the, “Demand the manager 101 poster”

      2. Rage*

        Yes, in Great Britain it would be “The Ministry for Dramatic Flouncing”. Individuals would come for grant funding to work out the details of their Silly Flouncing.

  6. learnedthehardway*

    Honestly, I would start a search for this person’s replacement now, and exit him when you’re able to do so. He is already at odds with other employees, and while he is contributing a lot, it sounds like he is a flight risk.

    While your company can’t likely (and probably won’t want to) make the changes this guy wants to his contract, what is the market like for his experience / skillset? Is there a talent shortage for his kind of expertise? If he’s actually a hot commodity, I would assume he has other opportunities that he’s looking at. If he’s simply got an inflated sense of his own importance, I would be worried that he might simply quit, believing he can find another role rapidly.

    I guess you could also look at whether his contract is fair, but really – the job is what it is, and if he’s over-qualified or under-paid for it, that is really not the company’s fault, if he agreed to take on the role.

    1. Candi*

      OP’s answered elsewhere. It’s academia, the guy is close to the top of his pay band, a lot of what said institute runs under is set by the state, it is genuinely a hot field, but the guy is more middle-of-the-road in his demonstrated skill set, including work done at a previous federal research job.

      And he sent the letter/email to OP’s boss and grandboss.

  7. Retro*

    Part of me wonders whether this letter of intent was written while this employee was impaired by alcohol, wrote it as a way to blow off steam, and never actually meant to send it and accidentally did as if this is all part of a sitcom scenario.

    Regardless of the circumstances, it can’t be ignored, so OP should face it head on. I would also reevaluate his past issues with this new piece of information. His expectations of what work can provide him and workplace norms are completely skewed, so can OP confidently trust that his judgment in those tifs with other colleagues was also sound?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is why I neverrrr do the “write the email just to get your feelings down” exercise because woof I would do that

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Which is why I compose mine in Word or Google Docs. If I realllllly want to send it the next day, I can always copy-paste.

      2. Just Another Zebra*

        For me, it’s the act of hitting SEND that is satisfying. So I send them To Zebra Email #1, from Zebra Email #2.

        And then I wait twelve hours to see if it needs to be really sent. Usually, the answer is no.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Curious about this. When I read that OP received a letter, I pictured a printed document left in is office, on his desk or handed to him, not an email.
      An email I could understand. But printing it is next level, err umm odd.

      1. OP*

        It was an email. I did wonder about the alcohol-impaired judgement. His salary demands (which ranged from my salary at the low end to my boss’ at the high end) actually differed in two places.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Thank you for the follow up. Curious-er and curious-er!
          You sound like a very reasonable person asking a very straightforward question, only interested in the facts, “what does he want?” so I hope if it was liquid courage, he can own up to it and try to move on, not double down and bluster himself out of a job.

        2. Is he George Costanza?*

          It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where George quits his job then shows up back at work pretending he never quit. The episode is called “The Revenge”, it’s the 7th show in the second season.

  8. Librarian of SHIELD*

    I might go for a combination of the two approaches Alison laid out. Call the employee in for a meeting, explain that it’s not possible for you to meet the demands in his letter, and given that, you’ll reach out to the legal team to find out if it’s possible to end his contract early so he’ll be free to pursue work that will be more suited to what he wants. And then see what he says after that. It’s possible that he did intend this as a pre-resignation letter and will cooperate with the process, but it’s also possible that he’ll be mortified and realize that he acted without thinking it through.

    Either way, though, I hope you send us an update, OP!

  9. Granger Chase*

    This is so odd to me! Granted, I’ve never worked a contract position before, so maybe in his experience he has had to turn in a similar letter to get out of contracts at previous workplaces. But the whole section on “pay me all this extra money and give me a title for a role that doesn’t exist” is just downright bizarre. Especially for a government position! That comes across to me like someone with no prior working experience and/or no grasp on professional norms. I feel like unless this person’s work had been absolutely stellar & the issues with coworkers could be resolved easily, I’d be figuring out how to end this contract early and send him on his way.

    1. Worldwalker*

      The OP clarified that it’s academia, and Flouncy McFlouncyface is a lecturer. So it’s quite possible he *doesn’t* have any prior working experience, at least as anything other than a grad student TA, and no clue at all what professional (academic or otherwise) norms are.

      1. OP*

        He worked at a Federal agency after his Ph.D. as a postdoc and then researcher. This is his first academic appointment, though. This is his third year tecahing for us, and we haven’t had a problem until last spring and then now. I don’t know what happened.

        1. NotMyRealName*

          Sounds like he needs to go back to not teaching. I’d say he should go into industry, but we don’t want him.

          1. sometimeswhy*

            Accurate. And the feds probably don’t want him back, either. This dude and too many others like him are why I have specific screening questions with a set of disqualifying responses for jobs that I hire for (local govt, physical science) to avoid wasting my time and my limited candidate slots interviewing people who want to use our facilities to perform their own research instead of wanting to perform the duties of the position they’re applying for.

            1. Candi*

              “people who want to use our facilities to perform their own research instead of wanting to perform the duties of the position they’re applying for”

              Wait, what???

              I can get asking -politely- if the facilities can be used for personal research when the person isn’t on the clock. (Probably a big No, but I can understand asking.) But your context sounds like they planned to, or even did, personal research on the clock. What the even?! That’s some gall.

              1. sometimeswhy*

                Yes. That. Exactly that. They will apply for, say, entry level but highly technical work and not want to do that technical work but instead do the thing they perceive as more advanced and/or valuable. They apparently have no idea how valuable it is to have someone properly prepare sample media for programs that measure things in parts per billion and parts per trillion and are therefore not qualified no matter how many letters they have after their name.

        2. Amaranth*

          With this info, and the fact he is avoiding you, maybe he got drunk or had some kind of tantrum and wrote The Letter That Shall Not Be Sent and is trying to pretend it never happened?

        3. L.H. Puttgrass*

          This is so weird. If he was in government (where, I presume, he did research) and then a researcher, why would he take a lecturer position, which typically doesn’t involve research (or has some funds for research but such a large teaching load that it’s not really conducive to getting lots of research done)?

          Maybe he thought that the lecturer position was his way into academia, and that all he needed was to be there long enough and he’d get promoted to a tenure track position—and it’s high time the university held up its end of his imaginary bargain? That’s all I can come up with, but you’d think someone who has been teaching for two years would know better.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I am betting this probably was his thought process: I just need to get my foot into the door, and as soon as they recognize how brilliant I am they will break the normal (established by state policy in most places) hiring procedure just for me.

            This tantrum will not work out well for him, and I wonder if OP being hired over him is what started the whole host of problems that he’s acting out now.

            1. Candi*

              “I just need to get my foot into the door, and as soon as they recognize how brilliant I am they will break the normal hiring procedure just for me.”

              1) How many times have we seen that on this site?

              2) How many times has it ever worked out?

              Bloody Dunning-Krueger.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Oh, I doubt this particular person is self-aware enough to realize how badly skewed his norms are. But occasionally some of them will find “Ask a Manager” and grow in their knowledge of actual workplace norms.

        4. NACSACJACK*

          Given he has worked there for 3 years, does he think he is automatically awarded tenure? Is he confusing state university tenure rules (and applications and committees) with K-12 tenure? This triggered me to look up a discussion I had with a friend, whether the teachers in my state have tenure or not (They do). Turns out both his home state and mine have the same # of years – 3. If you make 3 years in K-12, you get tenure.

        5. Library Fairy*

          By last spring, do you mean spring 2020? I’m wondering how much his problematic behavior overlaps with teaching in pandemic conditions. I was about to be a *little* more sympathetic towards him based on that idea, but… that went out the window when I read that he tried to change from an online asynchronous to a fixed in-person class on short notice. That is way beyond the pale on its own, even if there wasn’t an ongoing pandemic.

  10. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    This is odd. Not the give me what I want or I’m leaving so much as writing it down. Presenting a list of demands. Honestly, he sounds like he read about the infamous dress code interns’ petition and thought, “Yes.”
    So His contract is currently active and he’s employed until June 2022? He’s telling you know that he wants to be Executive Director of Things He Wants to Do. Does he mean now or at the end of his contract? If he wants his job changed now, then he is planning to break his contract (he can call it renegotiating, he can call it whatever he wants, but that’s what he’s doing.)
    I’d do the Alison’s Patented “ask him what he means then let him speak.”
    It should be amazing.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Ha, you’re right, it’s just like the dress code interns!
      I wonder if this guy has a similar level of inexperience with work norms…OP said he’s a lecturer, so maybe a postdoc who’s been a student all his life up until now…

      1. Candi*

        Elsewhere in the comments section OP says Mr. Fancy Title worked for a federal organization a bit before becoming a lecturer.

        Someone pointed out that the federal position to lecturer is a step down.

  11. mcfizzle*

    I find it interesting that the employee avoided LW in the common area. That to me speaks volumes. The whole vibe here is just so weird. I’d lean towards employee is itching to leave (or will be once informed the Demands will not be Met), so make sure you have access to his work, etc. If it’s this much Drama in the letter, I wouldn’t rule out Even More Drama when he actually Flounces.

  12. OP*

    Updates since I sent in the letter:

    It turns out that he sent the letter to not only me, but also my boss and my boss’ boss. My boss thought it was hilarious. I don’t know what my boss’ boss thought, but I imagine it involved a whole lot of eye-rolling.

    This entire crisis was precipitated because he decided to immediately and unilaterally change a schedule that involved a bunch of people, simply by announcing that the change was “immediate and mandatory”. Needless to say, the others impacted pushed back, and that got us to where we are now. Also, more background, he formerly reported to my boss, and I was hired to manage this program about a year ago, so I’ve only been working with him in-person for about a month. I don’t think he’s ever accepted that he reports to me.

    With that explained, he sent a follow-up email to my boss saying that he can change the schedule back, but it will negatively impact the quality of the product, and any fallout from that will be on her head and he accepts no responsibility. I can’t even approximate how rude the tone was.

    My boss and I have agreed that he needs to be gone sooner rather than later, and are just waiting to hear back from the contracts person to know what our options are.

        1. TrackingCookieMonster*

          Yeah, OP, I got to suggest a correction. He didn’t send you a letter. He sent you his own death warrant.

    1. mcfizzle*

      Thank you for this! Wow… I strongly suspected it would only get worse. Has he been told his wish list has been rejected?

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Most contracts will have something about firing for cause in them. I hope you have an easy out.

      Wow. Just wow.

    3. Nea*

      Sounds like the problem is managing itself, because there was no way anyone could come back from that.

      Think of it this way. You just have to grit your teeth through whatever severance time contracts tells you and then you’ll have a story you can tell for the rest of your life.

    4. Lucious*

      >> My boss and I have agreed that he needs to be gone sooner rather than later, and are just waiting to hear back from the contracts person to know what our options are.

      Good call. This individual apparently has fundamental challenges with understanding reality, and it’s not your job to fix this.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Yeah, just to get the problem out of *their* reality before it affects any more people than it already has. Imagine having someone like that teaching a course you’re taking … “I’m changing the time of finals, just because I want to. Suck it up, buttercup.”

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’ve had that happen, and it was awful. It also conflicted with the time of the finals of a different, also major-required class, which made things worse.

          1. Candi*

            I’d having a bad feeling in my gut on how he probably deals with nontraditional students, particularly if they’re older than him.

            I had a Calculus II teacher who was in her thirties. When most people see me, they put me at 21-25, but I’m in my early 40s. She got really weird when it came up in a group conversation I was older than her, and while she’d been super-helpful before, I got a lot of “don’t you know this?” after. (I never took any form of calc in high school or my first round of college, and I told her that.)

            This guy, even conveyed through OP, is giving me the same feeling I got off of her.

            1. OP*

              It is … concerning … that the students most affected are those that are female and/or POC, particularly given his complete lack of interest in accommodating their needs in the schedule.

              No smoking gun, but enough to give me the willies.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                Ah, he’s definitely the same type as the professor I’m complaining about. Keep watching and checking in with the students. You’re probably not going to get anything as dramatic as what I got told (because this guy isn’t tenured and therefore presumably not in the “I can microwave a hamster in the parking lot and keep my job” stage), but these people are rarely as subtle as they think they are.

    5. ThatGirl*

      So, to me this smacks of overconfident and very young white guy (like, fresh out of college) who is super assured of his own rightness and invaluability – but I’d really love to know how old he actually is!

      1. OP*

        He’s mid-30s, in an admittedly hot field. But he’s not as valuable as he seems to think he is. His salary demand went from my salary at the low end to my boss’ at the high end. It can’t be done.

        1. Nesprin*

          Is he in a tenure track but not tenured position now? If ever there was a reason to have the Dean quietly say “you’re unlikely to receive tenure at this institution,” this series of weirdo things would be it.

            1. quill*

              I STRONGLY suspect that you will not end up having to implement Allison’s advice if he’s bothering the dean with this.

            2. Nesprin*

              Ahhhh that makes a bit more sense.

              “How can you people not recognize my brilliance? I will play brinksmanship until you give me a tenure track position, despite the fact that a new faculty line takes a year at most institutions.”

              Admittedly, getting from a lectureship to a tenure track spot usually requires a similar level of brinksmanship… but a bit more institutional knowledge and diplomacy.

              1. Yorick*

                In my experience, adjuncts are not called lecturers. (In the US) Lecturer is a full-time teaching position (for example, covering 4 classes a semester) that is not on the tenure track, and can be year-by-year but can also be ongoing. Adjuncts are contracted per class, per semester (so they may only teach 1 class 1 time, or they may teach several classes for years, but it is still more precarious than a lecturer position).

                1. Splendid Colors*

                  We had a lecturer who taught Bio 101 For Non-Majors who was absolutely superb. Students would register for her class because they had to take some kind of science to graduate, and by the first midterm she converted them to loving biology and understanding science.

                  Every time we had a budget problem (state cut our funding because recession, enrollment down, etc.) the department would dramatically announce they couldn’t afford to pay her next year and she would be fired. Magically, money would appear to keep her on the payroll–but not until after she went through a month or so of “how am I going to pay my mortgage? should I move out of the boondocks so I can get work more easily?” stress.

                  At one point, she warned them that the next time they did this, she might take it seriously and either retire or find another job and not be available to teach Bio 101 For Non-Majors when they “found the funds” for her position after all. They did it anyhow. I think she worked at least a year after that (it’s hard to relocate when your house is worth 1/5 what a new one in a major metro area would cost) and then retired. Good for her, and I hope they found someone equally talented for the benefit of the non-majors (and didn’t treat them like a pawn in budget politics).

            3. J.B.*


              I mean, I have some frustrations with my slightly tenuous university staff status, but…the DEAN? Whoo!

        2. ArtsyGirl*

          You don’t mention your gender or age OP, but I am sensing resentment by the employee that you are were hired over him. Did he apply for your job? It sounds like he wants a promotion in title and salary above yours so as not to report to you.

              1. Pants*

                Right with you, AngryOwl. I was waiting for it too.

                (Did you know a baby owl is called an owlet?)

                (Which means a wet baby owl is a moist owlet.)

            1. OrigCassandra*

              Oh. Ohhhhhhhh.

              I hope you manage to rid yourself of Flounceypants real, real fast, for your sake, your boss’s sake, and the department’s sake (including the students; nobody needs that).

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Oh my word. Yes – GONE, as soon as contractually possible. Dude just has no clue – and it needs to be as clear as the legal people will allow you to make it why he is going away.

            3. iiii*

              …and that’s why he looped in the Dean. He had to go that high to find the next legitimate (male) person up the chain from himself.

            4. We gotta go to the crappy town where *I'm* a hero.*

              It pleases my contumacious little heart that you and your boss will still be there and he will be gone, baby, gone. Cancel culture references indeed. You just canceled yourself, young Padawan.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          It sounds like a lot of this boils down to him demanding that you stop being his boss so he can be the boss instead.

        4. Worldwalker*

          So … you’re his boss … he is demanding a salary ranging from his boss’s to his grandboss’s? There is no reality in which that works.

          I once had a next-door neighbor who worked for a company he thought valued him a lot more highly than they did. He was a nice guy, but he was a slacker, played video games at work, that kind of thing. He thought he was invaluable right up to the day that they escorted him out of the building and told them they’d mail his final check.

          1. OP*

            He’s at the very top of the band for his position, which is, honestly, not bad for our area. Since we work for the State, the salary bands are published online. I don’t know if he’s just clueless or if he really thinks he should be paid the same as the Assistant Dean, or what?

            1. Empress Matilda*

              Honestly, this guy is making my job look so much easier right now. Thank you for your continuing updates – I can’t wait to hear the next installment!

              1. Violet Fox*

                Should clarify, we have publicly posted salary bands, but negotiations are done at set times of the year based on the type of salary negotiations and it takes something pretty extraordinary for them to change outside of that. We are also heavily unionized though so unions are involved in all of this.

            2. Jay*

              Well, if the Assistant Dean is a girl it’s not like she needs the money or anything. She probably has a hard-working henpecked husband supporting her and is just in this for the glory and the glamour like all those dilettante women who work when it suits them and then quit to eat bonbons and have nannies raise their children. /sarcasm

              In all seriousness I do suspect that there is sexism at play in his salary demands.

        5. Violet Fox*

          Mid-30s is also old to be looking to start tenure track, especially if someone has been a lecturer for a while. His H-score can’t be any good.

          1. OP*

            He worked for the Feds in a research capacity for a while. His publication record is OK, but not great. *NO ONE*, except maybe Harvard, CalTech or MIT will give him the salary he wants as an incoming Assistant Professor, and even then, they would only do it for a rock star. He’s not a rock star.

            1. Violet Fox*

              Yeah, people are going to hire someone younger, cheaper, and with a better publication record that is actually still trainable.

          2. Nesprin*

            Disagree. Early to mid 30s is now when you start tenure track in STEM disciplines where you need a couple years of postdoc time to be competitive.

            1. Rachel*

              I second this!

              STEM PhDs are usually 5-6 years and then require at least 3-4 years in post-doc, not to mention usually people have ~2 years of lab work before grad school. So that is 30 years old on the lowest end, and I would guess the mode is something like 34.

        6. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

          No matter how hot his field is, he definitely doesn’t sound like a hot candidate for any promotion track.
          His letter of intent should get a desk rejection – If he wants to be a professor, he should get used to those, especially given that his level of self-awareness is at least 3 standard deviations below the mean.

        7. Wendy Darling*

          I feel like I met versions of this guy when I was in academia. He’s the grown up version of the dude who swanned into an advanced graduate seminar I was in and was shocked the professor wouldn’t let him take it despite having none of the (extensive) prerequisites and said he could catch up over the weekend if she gave him a list of stuff to read.

          She told him not to disrespect the subfield like that and to get out. He tried to get the department chair to intercede on his behalf. It did not work.

          1. Nesprin*

            Or the guy who I asked if he had any experience coding in (common programming language using matrices) and his response was “no, never done any programming, but I can learn it tomorrow.”

            1. Candi*

              O.o ^inf

              I took three quarters of Java (which is probably easier than what you’re referring to) and had trouble with it. Learning any system in 24 hours!?! Heck no.

              (Decided Computer Science wasn’t for me, talked to my advisor, switched over to IT. It’s much more fun.)

        8. ADHSquirrelWhat*

          PLEASE can you give us just the vaguest idea of the field? because right now I’m seeing full theater style, but it’s somehow way more epic if it’s, like, engineering. or math! math drama!

            1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

              I’ve decided in my head it’s actually something like women’s studies. Because of the Wrong of it all.

              1. Libby*

                I am a lecturer in a STEM field at a state school. It’s obviously crazy-unlikely, but oh how I hope this is happening at my institution….

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes. I’ve been rewatching Mad Men and this reminds me of the jai alai client who pours millions into an absurd campaign, refuses to accept feedback, and then tells the agency that if his wild ideas flop it will be their fault. There’s something deeply awful about building in excuses to avoid accountability before you’ve even tried!

    6. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Please update us with more. This is just …. WOW. is all I can think of.
      ** me eating popcorn watching this.

    7. Elle Woods*

      Holy moly, this employee sounds like a handful. I hope the contracts person tells you to get the employee out of here ASAP.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          All that needs is edit for rhyme and it’s perfect: “Too much drama for this here llama!”
          Cartoon to focus on one horrified llama bolting.

    8. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Okay, so on the surface it sounds like you’d be well rid of this guy.

      But… was he right about the schedule change being necessary? And is he right that changing it back will impact the quality of the product in a negative way? Is this something he’s been asking for/discussing for a while and getting no help with? I have been in the position of screaming into the void about things that needed to change that were completely ignored until it was too late.

      1. Nanani*

        I’m going to bet that the schedule change only looked like a good idea from his perspective but there were good reasons above his pay grade for it being the way it is. Yknow, like most processes.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          That’s entirely possible. But I’ve also worked enough places where when you ask why something is the way it is, the answer is “that’s how we’ve always done it”.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            It says multiple other people pushed back, so as far as we know it’s one person in favor and more than one person not in favor, which puts him on the least-people-inconvenienced side.

          2. Darsynia*

            I hear you, but in academia, making a unilateral and mandatory schedule change without consulting anyone involved is begging to conflict with actual classes the people actually pay for! It boggles the mind.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I get the angle of having empathy for the wronged and burned out, but given how he chose to handle it do you think the advice would change in any meaningful way if he had a point?

          1. Academic Anon*

            Unfortunately, him flouncing would end up invalidating even a valid point. At my prior university, we actually named that syndrome for one of our colleagues. If XX proposed it, it wasn’t gonna happen, no matter the amount of sense associated with it due purely to the person suggesting it.

            See Sayre’s Law for full effect.

      3. MistOrMister*

        This is one of those things where, it was handled so poorly that it’s probably very difficult to tell if the change was legitmate or not. From what OP says, I kind of assume not, but it could have been valid. That being said….to change a schedule you have no rights to change and then get nasty when you have to change it back – well, good luck there,no one is ever going to want to deal with you any more. I mean, yikes!!

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Sounds like he did have the right to change the schedule. He absolutely went about it the wrong way though.

          1. curly sue*

            If this is a course syllabus, my institution requires a quorum of 2/3rds of registered students to vote in favour of a change if you want to switch anything around after the class officially starts. I get the feeling the situation here (the push back) may be similar.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Well that’s… odd. Did he give any specific reason? I wouldn’t think a week was long enough to know if the schedule was effective or not.

          1. SG*

            What does this have to do with the letter? I thought we were supposed to take LWs at their word regarding situations like these?

            1. PollyQ*

              I’m not reading this as a challenge, just a reaction to Flouncy’s behavior and a request for more details.

        2. After 33 years ...*

          If it’s a course schedule is listed in the class syllabus: at my place, instant student grievance followed by letter of reprimand (for any level from adjunct / lecturer to Full Professor), and prompt re-instatement of the original.

          Your students, you boss, and you deserve better.

          1. OP*

            He abruptly changed the course from virtual, asynchronous to in-person with no notice and no flexibility a week into the class. The students already had their schedules set and *can’t* adjust at this point. It’s a required class for the major. (Yes, I’m tearing my hair out.) The reason I said faults on both sides is that these same students complaining now complained in the spring about the same professor and another one. They seem to be particularly demanding. We worked with him over the summer to try to make his classes this fall better, and then he goes and pulls this stunt.

            Oh, and the letter referenced “cancel culture” several times.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Frankly, there’s no reason to assume he’s not going to keep fussing with things even if you did let him get away with it. I had a tenured professor in undergrad pull this- for about five weeks he was changing the dates and times of the course and we just had to live with it because it was a required class. I was ready to hunt the professor for sport.

            2. After 33 years ...*

              Oh my … that’s rude. Changing from in-person to asynchronous might have to happen fast under Delta, but not the other way. Whatever the students’ complaints were previously, nothing justifies that degree of disruption / arrogance.

              1. Candi*

                I know that the three classes I have coming up in Autumn are normally 2/3 times a week, but they’re shunting everything they can online to minimize possible infection exposure. (I have my shots!)

                1. Candi*

                  Normally 2-3 times butt in seat a week, but they’re only having one day a week butt in seat Fall quarter. Fortunately, the day is the same day for all three classes I’m taking.

            3. OrigCassandra*

              OH NO OH NO OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. This is the ultimate in “nobody can do this unilaterally.” Not no way, not no day, not nohow.

              (Like, in my shop we have been sternly told that any course modality change takes three layers of approval, minimum. As the instructor of record for an in-person course, I’m employing a Malicious Compliance Maneuver: they can make me be there in-person, but they can’t make me make my students be there, so I’m broadcasting in-person class sessions via university Zoom and synchronous attendance either way counts.)

              But demanding an in-person course slot after term start? Oh no. Nope. Nerts. Not a possible thing. Absolutely unreasonable and cannot actually be done, not even by Fancypants Full Professors With Fancypants Titles.

              1. sometimeswhy*

                I just want to say: BRAVA for your malicious compliance. Thank you for doing what you can to give your students the flexibility to do what they need to do for themselves and their households.

                1. OrigCassandra*

                  Yeah, felt like the least I could do. This is a grad class, and (as I learned at our first meeting tonight) the students are phenomenal. They deserve my trust and they’ll get it.

              2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Yeah – I want to know how and where Dr Flouncy expects this class to suddenly meet? Because it can sometimes take a whole semester to figure out which class is meeting where and when to get all classes a classroom.

                1. OP*

                  Because of COVID, 75% of classes on campus are still virtual, so I was able to wrangle a room. That, apparently, makes it all OK by him.

                2. AFac*

                  Out of threading, but OP, I would not have even tried to ask for a classroom.

                  This, perhaps, is why I never, ever want to be Department Chair.

                3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  OP I so wish I could put emojis here – because there are two that I feel describe Dr Flouncy well: the running into a brick wall one and the smacking my head one.

            4. S*

              No. Holy cow. The other direction would be annoying and probably cause problems, but asynchronous online to in-person is just not possible. However demanding or obnoxious the students might be on other topics, they are 100% right on this one. Good Lord.

              1. Kal*

                And given how much of a problem this prof is, I wonder if the students might just be acting out of frustration because this guy is such a constant and utter mess that they’re fed up and just want a decent education. (I could be completely wrong though; I don’t know what the complaints were and the context around them like OP does.)

                1. tangerineRose*

                  I was also going to ask if you’re sure the students are the problem. This guy sounds like he might be terrible in other ways, like teaching, and just because the students are complaining about 2 teachers doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

                2. Candi*

                  I had to take Discrete Math twice.

                  (This is virtual class.) The teacher had an incredibly thick accent that I had trouble following, even when replaying the lectures, and when you asked her to repeat something, half the time she’d ignore the student, and the other half say it very fast in an even thicker accent.

                  If you asked her for to explain something, she’d repeat exactly what she said in the lecture, then ignore the student.

                  Don’t ask me how the publisher screwed this up, but there was a problem in the question of a chapter for which there was no. other. material. in the book. At all. When that was pointed out, she said, “Figure it out.” Office hours were often cut off early.


                  Retook it, also virtual class. Teacher also had a strong accent, but he worked to mitigate it. He explained things, repeated things when asked, and clarified them. When told about the problem with the book, he linked to a video on Youtube that explained it. (How the heck did he find that -the title was not indicative of the content.) Office hours were strictly scheduled, but never cut off early. He used a lot of on-screen diagrams and such.


                  Note a lot of original classmates from the first class were also in the second class. Most of them reported they were doing much better.

                  And in this case, the first professor knew her stuff. She was just a poor teacher.

            5. AFac*

              For those not in academia: course schedules are notoriously hard to change even if everyone supports the change because of classroom booking. Changing a class from an online format where no room is needed to in-person where a room to house a specific number of students is needed is nearly impossible if you give a year’s notice. Doing it one week into the start of classes is impossible on winning-a-land-war-in-Asia or going-in-against-a-Sicilian-with-death-on-the-line levels.

              1. OrigCassandra*

                Yup, it all has to fit together like the world’s worst jigsaw puzzle and it all gets set up MONTHS in advance. It’s barely possible in my shop to change classrooms, but only before start of term and I better have a Darn Good Reason.

                (I did, once. It had to do with a lighting fixture falling out of the ceiling of the room I’d been assigned.)

                1. AFac*

                  And everyone wants to teach between 10am-3pm on Tues/Thurs in a classroom that has good acoustics, ventilation, and whiteboards but doesn’t require leaving the building where their office/lab is…

                  It took me 4 years to change an 8:30am class to a 9:30am class even when I knew the classroom was empty for the 9:30 slot. By that time, I wasn’t teaching that class anymore.

              2. Blomma*

                I gotta say, reading that I have even more respect for the 2 different profs that got our classroom moved for me. It was a disability accommodation (maybe don’t have class on the second floor of a building with no elevator if you have a mobility impaired student) so they kind of had to make it happen, but I’m impressed it happened so quickly!

                1. Frideag Dachaigh*

                  I was going to comment a similar thing- I had an accommodation for both accessible classroom locations but also “classroom proximity” where, unless there was any specific reason for any given class to be in any given classroom/building, if I had 2 classes within 15 minutes of each other they were relocated to be near each other to ensure I could get from point A to point B on time. I once added a class fairly last minute and the registrar had to scramble to make it work. Another time, 2 days into the semester, the elevator in a building broke (old building, and due to the issue, was going to take months to fix)- the disability services office was up all night combing through the roster of every class that met in the building, trying to figure out what needed to get moved. It was a relatively small progressive private school that does well for disabled students, but a nightmare to get everything to work! I can’t imagine how they would make this work for anything other than these very specific disability issues!

                2. AFac*

                  If there’s a good reason for it (ADA accommodations, safety issues, accidentally double-booking a space), most people will bend over backwards to make a change happen.

                  Short notice request for (debatable) pedagogical reasons? Probably not. You’d have to be someone extremely well-respected or have a lot of favors to cash in.

                  Short notice request by someone who thinks this Letter of Flounce is appropriate? Nope.

              3. FormerUniAdmin*

                Kudos for the Princess Bride reference, and yes, unless it’s a grad student seminar with three students, trying to find a space for it once term has started will be nigh on impossible.

            6. quill*

              Not only would it be perfectly valid for his students to hunt him for sport at this point, his TA’s are probably leading the charge.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                For the sake of his TA’s, I hope he doesn’t have any.

                Frankly, for the sake of his students, I hope he finds something to do that isn’t teaching. Maybe there’s a beverage snorkeling team out there looking for a new member..?

                1. Candi*

                  Maybe he should take his research skills to Girl Genius or the SCP wiki’s Foundation. I’m sure he’ll quickly learn to prioritize what’s important. Or get eaten.

                2. KoiFeeder*

                  I’ve written for the SCP foundation and this guy would get eaten alive by the community. There’s literal prion researchers among the writers, Dr. Mediocre Flouncipants wouldn’t stand a chance.

                3. Candi*

                  I was thinking in-universe Foundation, mostly because I want to see him research 592. Without the special computer equipment.

                  (Okay, that might be mean. Maybe.)

                  I’ve read it a lot longer than I’ve been a member. There’s a SCP item about an infection that causes businesses to organize badly. It sounded like a lot of the stories on here.

            7. Detective Amy Santiago*

              … holy cow

              I was assuming this was some kind of government thing which is why I was asking questions. The fact that it’s academia just blows it completely out of the water. Good luck with the rest of the semester!

              1. OP*

                I assure you, it’s even more bonkers than I have portrayed. Seriously, when my Assistant Dean and I sat down to discuss the situation, we didn’t stop laughing for about 5 minutes. The tone is….indescribable.

                1. Bilateralrope*

                  Is there any chance you could release it to students as a lesson of what not to do in their careers ?

                2. COHikerGirl*

                  It’s excellent you both have a sense of humor. It helps with the pain of pulling hair out.

                  My ex went into a tenture-track position (basically right out of school). He super lucked out and knew it. And has worked hard to prove himself.

                  This guy…belongs in the mentioned cancel culture for this! I can’t believe he said that.

                3. DrRat*

                  I would like to make a formal request that henceforth this particular letter be known as One Flounce to Rule Them All.

            8. NotRealAnonForThis*

              Oh my stars.

              In the great before, when my spouse was in a fully online master’s level program (which was marketed to ::his field:: as a great option for Working Professionals, keep this in mind; it was a pilot program about 15 years ago) it was a synchronous affair back in the days before synchronous and asynchronous were in our daily usage.

              These synchronous classes were LATE in the Eastern Time Zone, because synchronous and working professionals. LATE, like 9 or 10 p.m. start in order to give participants on the west coast a chance to get home from work. Everyone sucked it up.

              One semester (I believe it was semester 4 of 6), one of his professors attempted to move her synchronous class that was geared to working professionals to 2:30 p.m. EST. She made a very grave error in attempting to do this, as the full (small) program basically went to the Department Chair AND Dean and asked exactly how they were supposed to attend synchronous online classes during the work day, and that if could actually do that, they’d be attending the shorter program in person. Further, this put some of the participant’s tuition reimbursement in jeopardy (not my spouse’s, but I caught wind of it). Basically, fix this or your program is going to be sunk.

              She was replaced within a week. I’m not sure exactly HOW that happened at a state university, but it did. Perhaps they just swapped her full workload to the in-person program and vice versa. But there was a completely new to the course professor within the week.

            9. The Prettiest Curse*

              Your last sentence makes me think that this arsehole will be filling a frivolous lawsuit the second that you rightfully show him the door. Run everything by HR and Legal and document everything to the greatest extent possible.

            10. Nanani*

              He needs to be gone.
              The students complained about this specific guy twice, that`s not a student problem. Its a This BLEEPing guy problem.

              Also the power dynamics are such that it can never really be both sides. The students do not have power here. They just don’t.

              1. Kal*

                My experience as a student was that you often just tolerated bad lecturers and hoped to just be done with them as soon as possible. I had a prof penalise because I was in the hospital during the class period. And even that I just accepted because the power dynamic was so much against me. It took students being seriously fired up to make any sort of complaints, which meant the complaints were either from something was so much more egregious than the complain could even explain, or they’d come from that one student who would get fired up over the tiniest of slights.

                And given this guy has shown himself to have a strong tendency towards egregious behaviour, the students having complained before seems to be a mark against him instead of against them.

              2. Stitch*

                We complained about our lab TA just once but it was because he said we’d gossiped about him and threatened to fail us for it. (I mean, it took him months to get our labs back). It turned out he had some other issues and he ended up getting kicked out of the program.

                In my experience it takes a lot to complain. Like the department didn’t chat with us about the “average of 12% in a midterm in a high level major class” until it had happened two more times.

              3. Librarian of SHIELD*

                I wholeheartedly agree with this take.

                OP, you’ve seen first hand how this guy treats people who have power over him. How do you think that translates to *the people he has power over*?

                If he’s treating you and his fellow lecturers and your Dean and Assistant Dean this badly, then I will bet actual money that he’s abusive to students. Take those complaints seriously and don’t assume that these students just have high standards or are challenging in some way. You know this guy treats people badly, believe your students when they tell you the same thing you’ve seen with your own eyes.

                1. Candi*

                  OP said elsewhere on the page they’ll be sitting in on some of Mr. Fancy Title’s classes.

                  Very convenient for OP the guy decided to have in-person classes. It means no chance of the Zoom “accidentally” going down if the students start getting annoyed and asking their lecturer pointed questions. >:)

            11. J.B.*

              HOOOOLLLLEEEE !!!! I just want in person despite the students having signed up for virtual? Yeah I would have gone to the dean as a (self-paying) student over that one.

            12. LCH*

              ooh no. I never had the time of a class changed AFTER THE TERM BEGAN (!!!) in undergrad or graduate. that would have screwed my whole schedule up. I did have the location changed once after classes had begun and that was disruptive enough since now my classes that were 15 min apart were way farther apart than that in walking time meaning I was always late to the second class. wtf was he thinking?

            13. lcsa99*

              “cancel culture” and a “fancy title.” I really wish we could read the actual letter! It sounds like it would be hilarious (for those of us not involved). You have my sympathies. Enjoy burning the letter when you finally get rid of this doofus.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Honestly I think this letter goes in his employment file as the justification for why he is ineligible for rehire.

                1. Candi*

                  Op says elsewhere it was sent as an email.

                  So one copy for the fire.

                  One for the file.

                  One for the dartboard.

                  One for….

                1. Just The Lipstick Tooth Stain to Your Interview Condom*

                  Is this in reference to you and your boss? Even if not, this guy’s level of misogyny, entitlement, confidence, and ego even stretch the middle aged white man heights.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  WOWOWOWOW – he managed to find every single “dog whistle phrase” out there for this email.

                  I said it elsewhere, this guy needs to be gone – at the end of this semester, and without tanking a single student who complained about him. Hopefully, Legal/contracts agrees with you.

            14. Lizzo*

              What. The. Actual. [Expletive.]

              From the student perspective, this feels akin to being hired as a remote employee, and then being told after one week on the job that, “Sorry, we lied! You need to be here in person! This is non-negotiable!” During a pandemic, no less!

              Only difference here is that the students ***are paying to be there.***

              How soon can you get rid of this guy?

            15. ADHSquirrelWhat*

              HOLY ….

              Dude didn’t do his job ahead of time and is now blaming everyone else for it. Setting up a class like that is work and not just “record lecture into cell phone” which I bet is what he did, or something similar. And now it’s a massive tantrum because he doesn’t want to do the work.

              because if he had, he wouldn’t change it once it was set up.

              1. Candi*

                What do you think the odds are he lost the lecture files, didn’t back up, and doesn’t want to redo them?

                1. OP*

                  He’s refusing to record his lectures because “it will make the students lazy and they won’t do well and blame me”.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Out of nesting – replying to OP.

                  Okay, this guy is now reminding me of a Lecturer I had senior year, final semester. Thank goodness my grade in that class wasn’t wholly decided by Lecturer otherwise I wouldn’t have graduated. I was in his final class at that university – because his conduct out on site was soo bad internship site supervisors called the University to let them know he was being banned from their job sites for “conduct detrimental to the industry’s good reputation.”

                3. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  OP, this man and his ego are the worst teacher in the entire universe and his students deserve better.

            16. SocProf*

              Oh, he’s a cancel culture guy. Got it. Nothing further to see here, folks.

              I am a newly-tenured academic. I’m not in any current position of “power” (putting it in quotes bc there’s so little power to go around below the Provosts’ office, but I digress) but have been doing this job for a decade.

              When I started my current job as a TT Assistant Professor, my department also hired our equivalent to a Visiting Professor, which is a three year contract with no option for renewal. Decent pay, benefits, not a bad gig honestly. Anyway, the guy they hired was nice enough but clearly thought he was above it all and so at the beginning of his third year went straight to the Dean (over the Chair’s head and without his knowledge) and basically demanded that hte Dean convert his line to a TT line or else he would resign on the spot. The Dean shook his hand and said “Best of luck to you.”

              Two years later, we were actually allowed to hire a TT position and he applied. He was actually very qualified and had a strong CV, so we (I was on the search committee) put his name on the “long list” of people we were interested in doing phone interviews with. This list had to be approved by the same Dean. It came back to us, and I am not kidding, as a printed out list of names with his name crossed out. No commentary. Nothing else. No other names were crossed out.

              That was the end of that for him.

            17. The Other Katie*

              I feel like I should speak up for the students here: in light of what has just occurred, were the students in fact being “particularly demanding”, or were they bringing up problems with a lecturer who clearly has them?
              Changing a required class from asynchronous virtual to in-person at the last minute is, fundamentally, both unnecessary and a way that if someone were petty revenge inclined, could be used against the students who were viewed as having slighted the lecturer last term.
              I suspect if you look, this dude’s problems are deeper and longer-lasting than you think. Possibly they’ve escaped notice due to remote supervision or something, but they were there.

              1. ArtsyGirl*

                THIS – Especially since this is a required course. When I was TA-ing a mandatory, introductory course during the spring 2020-spring 2021 semesters many of my students were not on campus. International students were stuck in their home countries because boarders were closed and many freshman decided to live at home due to financial choices and restrictions on campus. In my 40 person classes almost half of my students were not even in the city our university is in and could not just move there at the drop of a hat – there is no way they could secure housing and get signed up for a meal plan even if they lived in state. Since the OP mentioned Dr. Flouncer wanted to reduce his course load, I wonder if it is his way to get the class drastically reduced or even canceled so he could focus on his other projects.

                1. The Other Katie*

                  Even if you’re already on campus, have no other (serious) commitments and so on, randomly changing class schedules can be difficult to impossible to deal with. In later undergraduate I had terms so tightly scheduled I had to talk my way into one specific section of a required course, because otherwise I could not take the class. It’s downright cruel.

                2. OP*

                  It is absolutely cruel, and *he isn’t budging* no matter what I say. Or my boss says. Or the Dean says. It’s driving me around the bend.

              2. Starbuck*

                Yeah, I’m super curious about the context for that statement… if it’s not just one student or two, but a whole group? That suggest to me that something is legitimately wrong for them to complain about. But, I could also believe OP might have a explanation that could convince me it really was too much.

            18. Seeking Second Childhood*

              That goes way beyond rude for any students with a disability or hidden medical condition. Thank you for standing up for them and not letting him make that change after enrollment was settled.

            19. Academic Anon*

              Somewhere a Registrar is screaming…or at least one of their assistants. You can’t do that! Considering that one of my favorite professors has had an 8:00 a.m. class for the last three years due to crowding of the classrooms, this would NOT fly at my university.

              And our Registrar is a very scary person. She would have ground this person into paste way before you knew what happened.

            20. Velawciraptor*

              I….feel like I may have seen a post from one of this guy’s students on Tumblr. If this is the same guy, it gets crazier. Someone really needs to be keeping a close eye on him as long as he’s still teaching.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                No, the miss-demeanor post (link below) is unlikely to be him from the description OP provided. Although it DOES seem like they’re cut from the same cloth, sadly.

                1. Kal*

                  The problem with these sorts of lecturers is that they’re a dime a dozen, and they’re often allowed to go free with their BS without being checked by those above them. Like, the only reason I don’t think Fancytitle McFlouncypants might be one of my partner’s current lecturers is that he stands a chance of being removed – the numerous ones that act the same way in my partner’s program just get left to terrorize students at their leisure year after year because thats “tradition”.

              2. Working Hypothesis*

                Any chance you can give us the Tumblr link? It might well not be the same guy and I am not planning to treat it as being about this one; I just figure anything that’s even crazier, I would get a laugh out of reading.

            21. Candi*

              Oh for…

              Spring quarter, the first week one of my professors changed an asynchronous class to having to be in virtual class once a week. I’m lucky it didn’t collide with my other must be in virtual class courses (different day), but that was ENOUGH Of a pain to reschedule around! Missed the first three classes… since it wasn’t until the recorded lecture went up after the first class I knew there were regular classes. Yep, not a sign on Canvas, not a sign on the syllabus.

              Virtual to butt-in-seat? Even more of a pain to fix.

            22. Pants*

              Maybe a pandemic isn’t a good time to insist on in-person classes, Lord Flouncerton? The more niblets of info that come out, the more I’m getting the Red Pill vibe.

        3. Insert Clever Name Here*

          And you’re academia, so does that mean he changed a CLASS schedule? Like it was M/W/F at 2:00pm and now he changed it to T/R at 9:00am?!

          This is a fascinating train wreck to watch…sorry you’re having to live it, but goodness are you going to get a good “oh yeah?” story to tell!

          1. OP*

            Yes, and added an additional session that put his contact hours over the limit for the credit hours earned. Without telling me. (I haven’t gotten into that bit, yet. It’s extra bonkers.)

            1. OrigCassandra*

              I have utterly lost the ability to even, OP. Mind. Blown.

              (Academia-to-rest-of-world translation: in the US, federal regs indicate that you have to have a certain number of “contact hours” between instructors and students per credit hour. There’s some wiggle room sometimes, but you can’t go wildly above or wildly below the Magic Number.)

              I’m glad you and the Dean are able to laugh about all this, especially given the chaos all over academia this fall semester. I would be livid, and needing to script every single interaction with Dr. Flounceypants in advance to avoid absolutely going off on him. What a piece of WORK, that guy.

            2. Gracely*


              Wow. Seriously wow.

              I’ve been working in higher ed for over a decade, and have a spouse who’s been in it for 2 decades (and grew up in a college town) and I have literally never heard of ANYONE, not even the oldest, fuddiest-duddiest, most entitled long-tenured profs ever trying something like that. Let alone a *lecturer*???

              I just…holy f***ing llama balls, wow.

            3. just a random teacher*

              I did once have a professor add an optional weekly group go-over-the-homework-in-more-depth type session, but that was officially part of his office hours rather than class time (and it was optional). This sounds…well beyond that. (I think he added this because he was getting too many students during office hours for his actual office to contain them all.)

      4. LKW*

        Even if he was right (which it seems is not the case) – it’s super unprofessional to change it without discussing the new information that is causing the requested adjustment, how that information impacts specific milestones or end points, alternatives or potential remediations and expected impact. To simply say “Well I got it wrong and if you don’t let me change this then you are at fault, not me.”

      5. hbc*

        Unless it’s something legally required, I’ve never seen anyone write something like “immediate and mandatory” who wasn’t a complete tool. In most cases, the person doesn’t have the authority to make the changes they need and are waaaaay overstepping by declaring that others have to follow their lead. In the few cases where I’ve seen it by someone with actual authority, it has been a person who “leads” through intimidation and fear.

        It’s the kind of thing where we very well might go with the new schedule, *and* I’m drawing up separation paperwork.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        In my experience, people like this actually do expect to hear “You are right! This isn’t how it normally works but you are just so valuable, we will find a way to do it because we just can’t afford to lose you!”

        When such a person actually gets fired, the reaction is complete shock. One guy in particular said “Why is this happening? I don’t understand why this is happening. Why are you doing this to me?”

        1. Candi*

          It’s a thinking both magical and juvenile. They think everything will go through the way they want it “because” (magical) and they rarely consider, and never think through, what happens if things don’t go through the way they want (juvenile).

          It’s actually pretty close to how many criminals think.

      2. Cartographical*

        IME? I’m guessing that his anticipated outcome is that he will be promoted to TT and the pesky marginalized persons wrongly given authority over him will be replaced or displaced in some way. It sounds like maybe he’s been pushing the envelope for a while (are lecturers seriously allowed to create their own — self-published — texts AND get paid for said texts that they have deemed mandatory for the course??). Because it’s worked for him, he’s going all in. The assumption is likely that, because he’s got them up against a wall (he thinks), this will put them in the hot seat and they will be subject to the consequences, not him.

        I come from an “academic” family and I know, on two occasions, one of my relatives, Dr. Prof, has juggled their chair/dean responsibilities to take over a course from a problem lecturer*. People like that are often emboldened if there’s someone they perceive as an ally in sight — and they assume that people like them hold “the other” in the same contempt that they do and will act accordingly.

        *In both cases, the offender seemed deeply betrayed that Dr. Prof, who ticked most of the same surface identity boxes, was not playing from the same book as they were. If they’d bothered to look at Dr. Prof’s publishing history and department legacy, they would have been far less surprised when the hammer came down. Play stupid games, etc.

    9. Cards Fan*

      Congratulations, Irritated Employee!

      Your formal DItF form CYaL8tr has been approved! Your last day is yesterday. Best wishes for your future endeavors.

      Extremely Relieved Management

    10. Mannheim Steamroller*

      In other words, he gave a “Notice of Intent to Flounce” and he might just get flounced, bounced, and denounced.

    11. bunniferous*

      Ooof. Yeah, I agree with you and your boss.

      Before this, was his work ok? Is this totally out of the blue, or is this Par For The Course and just the final straw? You may not know since apparently you are fairly new with dealing with him but I would sure love to know.

      1. OP*

        There were significant issues in his work before, and my boss and I had actually talked about getting rid of him before this most recent crisis.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Why am I not surprised?

          Since you mention that the function this guy is in is in high demand, I would act on the assumption that he could leave at any time, even if he’s not all that great an employee, if his demands aren’t met. Not that you should meet the demands, just that you should start working on replacing him asap.

          I have a client who just had a resignation in a sort of similar situation – high demand skillset, under-performing employee – the employee left for a much more senior role, which they’re not really qualified for, but which they got because it is such a hot market for that skillset.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Now I’m hearing, “Well, isn’t he special” in Dana Carvey’s SNL skit voice.

          Sounds like the best course of action all around is to take his intent to flounce as a resignation and find the replacement.

          1. OP*

            Yeah, in my head, I kept saying, “Wait, you’re so special that you want a title THAT DOESN’T EXIST, with a salary that would have to be approved by the STATE LEGISLATURE?? You’re that special?!?!”

            But I would never actually say that. No matter how much I wanted to.

    12. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yeah…I was just coming here to say “Go see if the contract says if you can just get rid of this guy right now because he’s probably going to step up his crazy game.”

      I know nothing about employment contracts but I do know workplace crazy. This is not just ignorance of business norms. This is entitlement and anger. The expectation is that you will give him everything he wants immediately because he is so very valuable. If that doesn’t happen right away (accompanied by a plethora of apologies), such a person will spin right out into aggressive, defensive behavior. He’s got to go sooner rather than later. (…and I’m guessing his coworkers will be thrilled.)

    13. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I wrote above that I hope he doesn’t bluster himself out of a job. Happily, he did not. He full on, nuclear warhead imploded himself out of a job.
      “there will be consequences!”
      Note to self, don’t use Dwight Shrute as a role model for moving into management roles.

    14. Artemesia*

      I hope you can accept this resignation for December — since he actually suggested that. It is a pain to replace someone mid-semester — I have had to do that and it is a real pain that usually puts added strain on someone else. He asked about December – -hope your legal office will let you take him up on that.

      It is common in academia to only be able to get a decent offer in a current job if you have another offer. But even under those circumstances, it is not going to get you an offer of a tenure line and it is only likely to result in a big raise if you are valuable and they really want to keep you. It doesn’t sound like he is valuable.

    15. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Oh my.

      Paraphrasing a line from Buffy: “I’ve known you for a month and I can’t stand you. I really don’t fancy you getting tenure.”

    16. coldfingers*

      OP – if you can’t approximate how rude the tone is, is there any chance you could share it verbatim? Can you redact it enough to protect the guilty while still allowing us to experience its splendor? Pretty please? :)

    17. PlantProf*

      Oh my god. I have known visitors/lecturers leave involuntarily mid-semester, so depending on your set-up it might be possible. Good luck!

    18. BRR*

      Your further details about this being academic and a professor (or aspiring professor) made this all make sense. Good for you for having him gone sooner rather than later! He sounds like…a lot, to work with and I imagine your department will run smoother without him.

    19. Candi*

      Something just clicked -did he refer to educated students as product!?!

      I think it’s time to buy stock in “Wow.”

      1. Just The Lipstick Tooth Stain to Your Interview Condom*

        Oly…. I thought that was used as an example/to generalize. A lecturer referring to students as product is just… I just…

        OP, you deserve the raise he demanded. You should just show the legislature this letter for explanation! (Hopefully obviously not really)

    20. Ellie*

      Good call, I’d want him gone too. I hope his contract gives you a way to terminate. Otherwise, it might be worth a conversation anyway, he may want out anyway. If you make it clear he has a contract until June that now has no chance of being renewed, he may quit and solve your problem.

  13. Person from the Resume*

    Let legal advise you on what to do. Alison gives a good response but people commenting here are generally not used to contract employment and employment contracts. Both sides need to abide by the legal agreement and financial consequences for breaking the contract early. That’s going to drive your response to him.

    But as to your question this is not normal and very weird.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Agreed. LW needs to know what the terms of the contract entail. I have no experience with employment contracts but I think that any response to the employee should start with “We cannot change the terms of your employment because of your employment contract. We need to look into what the contract says regarding a resignation before the one year period.”

      1. NamelessOne*

        It’s academia. There will be legal support for how to deal with someone employed through a temporary contract. That said, the path of least resistance might just be to let him finish out the term in December and find somebody new for the January term.

    2. SleepyKitten*

      Yeah, contracts can vary from completely ignorable to impossible to break without dire consequences and you want somebody who is officially qualified/responsible to tell you which you’re dealing with. Especially on the employer side!

      I think the best thing to tell him is “we can’t come close to these demands due to state regulations, so I’ll check with hr/legal on when we can set your last day” (and confirm in writing!)

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I’ve dealt with contract folks and this is… not a thing. Legal should be involved, but I have so many questions about this. So very many.

  14. NN*

    This is weird behavior, no doubt. However, I wonder what the guy’s history is. When I resigned from my first job out of college, my boss hit the roof and told me that I should have “told him I was looking, “So I could have reached out to those other jobs and tell them not to hire you.” Um, no. That’s exactly why I DIDN’T tell you.

    Fast forward ten years later, when I’m working for a different abusive boss. He tells me, repeatedly, “If you ever are thinking about a looking for a new job, you need to tell me right away.” I was there for three years, and again- when I resigned- my boss hit the roof that I had been “disonest” with him by “sneaking around behind his back.” A former co-worker with whom I’ve remained friendly got the same speech when she recently resigned.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’m sorry but your ex-boss is cracking me up. “You should have told me so I could stop you” is so crazy.

      My current boss accidently saw my application for another job during a screen share like a year ago. I didn’t care because if I go I go, and they know I have problems because I’ve sat down with them on numerous occasions with my boss all the way to the CFO and nothing is done. But he still got all weird and whined “will you give me notice?” of course dude, you’ll get the regular notice time if and when I ever quit. As for longer notice, that started the first time I came to you with a complaint and you told me you agreed with me it was a problem but you weren’t going to do anything. LOL

    2. Recruited Recruiter*

      The employee handbook at a prior job that I have held stated “The board of directors must be notified immediately if you are *considering* looking for another job.”
      When I eventually resigned from this abusive workplace, I gave the full 90 day notice required by the handbook for a positive reference. They hired my replacement and ended my employment 45 days in, and had the gall to tell all the clients and other staff that I had decided to quit with no notice. I got more phone calls the day of the announcement on my personal cell than I ever had before in one day, or have since.

      They had 40% turnover of staff in the next 3 months due to the lack of trust they had created. In addition, they had 30% client loss after clients called me directly to ask about what happened – since I was most of our clients main point of contact, and was working on a transition plan effective 45 days out.

      The OP’s problem lecturer sounds like exactly the kind of person who will create this type of environment if he ever reaches a management role.

      1. Candi*

        “had the gall to tell all the clients and other staff that I had decided to quit with no notice”
        “was working on a transition plan effective 45 days out”

        Aaaaaaaaaaaand they didn’t stop to think about how the lie and the fact conflicted, and how there was 100% chance it would boomerang back on them?

        Good riddance to them.

  15. Brett*

    Old local government job did have such a thing where you had to give a formal notification if you started job seeking and you could be seeking employment with a vendor or anyone who had submitted a previous RFP (which was practically every employer in our county and surrounding counties). It only applied for certain people in certain positions though (had to be above a certain pay grade and had to have reviewed an RFP or vendor selection), and would never apply to contract employees. The employee was required to provide a list of all employers that they submitted an application to and provide updates on their process with each employer.

    This was all because of an ethics law where a vendor who hired an employee who could have had an influence on vendor selection for that vendor could be fined up to one year’s salary for that employee. (In practice, employees didn’t do this because old job would inform everyone on the list that they _could_ be liable for the max fine, which would quickly turn off any potential employer.)

    Maybe this employee caught whiff of a similar process for your state or another nearby government entity and took it in the wrong direction?

  16. NN*

    This is weird behavior, no doubt. However, I wonder what the guy’s history is. When I resigned from my first job out of college, my boss hit the roof and told me that I should have “told him I was looking, so I could have reached out to those other jobs and tell them not to hire you.” Um, no. That’s exactly why I DIDN’T say anything.

    Fast forward twelve years later, when I’m working for a different abusive boss. He tells me, repeatedly, “If you ever are thinking about a looking for a new job, you need to tell me right away.” I was there for three years, and again- when I resigned- my boss hit the roof that I had been “disonest” with him by “sneaking around behind his back.” A former co-worker with whom I’ve remained friendly got the same speech when she recently resigned.

  17. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’d love to know what these problems are he’s having with other people and if there is truly fault on both sides. Also, if you can resolve those problems, would that change anything with what he wants to do?

    1. Archie Goodwin*

      Eh, my mother taught me ages ago that in any conflict neither side is 100% at fault, and I’ve found that usually to be the case.

      That being said, “95% at fault” is technically not “100% at fault”, so take that for what you will.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, the more info the OP shares in the comments, the more it is clear that dude is the problem.

        1. Archie Goodwin*


          It’s mostly something I try to keep it centered in my thinking, so that in any conflict I can look at it after the fact and begin from the perspective of, “what did I do wrong?” Even if I perceive myself generally not to be at fault I can often find there’s something I could have done better.

          That’s neither here nor there, of course. I agree that anyone who acts as this employee does is going to be more at fault than other actors.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I come at things similarly as well. The only person I have 100% control over is me – so if I have any part in the problem I want to clean up my side of it so that I don’t repeat mistakes going forward.

            1. Candi*

              And keeping your side squeaky clean makes it easier to resolve the problem if the other side is operating in good faith, and makes them look a lot worse if they’re operating in bad faith.

      2. Anonymous Hippo*

        You can be totally right and still the problem. Guy sounds like he has attitude problems at the very least.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          So, OP clarified in the comments that this is academia and the schedule change he made was from an online, asynchronous class to an in person class which he means is is definitely not right and is very much the problem.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            WOWOWOW…..hadn’t seen that update yet.

            Yeah – flouncing dude is the problem here. Sounds like at best he has absolutely no clue about college lecturing norms. It’s for the best that he goes elsewhere.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                OP seems to keep adding updates as I post here, I’m struggling to keep up and keep popcorn in my bowl.

      3. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

        Eh, my mother taught me ages ago that in any conflict neither side is 100% at fault, and I’ve found that usually to be the case.

        I dunno. I can think of several conflicts where one side really isn’t at fault. If a slave runs away from their master, how much is the slave at fault? If someone beats their child, how much is the child at fault?

  18. Enjoy the show*

    This is not as good as the person who quit on a scooter at a grocery store while rolling by the hungry man dinners but wow! I always thought academics was a small world so reputation is everything.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Goodness, yes.

      Dr. Flounceypants isn’t just flouncing out of this job — he’s flouncing out of his chances at ANY tenure-track job. Search committees absolutely do check references and tweak the grapevine for info. Flounceypants is doomed doomed DOOMED on the job market, no matter how hot his area is.

      1. EmmaPoet*

        And this is the kind of story that everyone will remember. Dr Fancy Flouncypants will never be able to live it down. He could win a Nobel Prize and they’d still talk about how he torched his chances of moving on to a tenured position with this amazingly stupid move.

  19. Solitary Daughter*

    You notes that in his past conflicts with colleagues there was fault on both sides, but unless you work with an unusually high population of jerks, I’d be willing to assign a higher level of blame to the person throwing tantrums. Once he’s gone, I’d be surprised if other problems don’t magically start to solve themselves.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Have to wonder how many of his colleagues are at BEC stage with this person, so therefore making far less than optimal decisions out of frustration.

  20. MuseumChick*

    How old is this person? From the description here, I would guess he is young. I wonder if he comes across some (very terrible) job advice and as Alison says, has no idea about normal business norms. But this is so off the wall…. Here is where I land on this, I would not renew his contract or let him go now if you can. And make it clear to him that this letter was a big factor in you ending your dealing with him. Much like those interns who submitted a demand to change the office dress code, this will be a painful but valuable lesson for him.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      OP said in above comments he’s early 30s.

      But, yes, this is very much how this behaviour reads. It’s just plain odd!

  21. Grandma*

    First, love Intent to Flounce. I will have that picture in my head all day and giggle every time I think of it. So, he’s already sent an over the top announcement to his manager and then doubles down by sending hostile email up the command chain. Wow, dude. You may have just imploded your career. Just wow.

  22. Teapot Repair Technician*

    In my experience, good employers rarely create new positions to promote employees into as a way of retaining them.

    The best employers I’ve worked for have a stable org chart with fixed positions that they hire or promote workers into.

    1. Vanilla Bean*

      I’ve never had a position created for me to move into as a retention strategy, but I did throw a reorganization plan into chaos once by declaring that I Did Not Want the job they’d slotted me into. (I was the Coffee and Tea expert for Local Beverages Company, loved Coffee, tolerated Tea, and Parent Company was moving experts to the corporate level, so they planned to make me head of Tea for all of Parent Company. I told them that Coffee was my reason for waking up in the morning and if they made Tea my whole job I would be miserable. They rearranged the plan and made me head of Coffee. There were other factors in play but I would have quit.)

    2. Brett*

      State government sometimes has a significant problem with calcification of the hierarchy such that the only way to promote is to create new positions (though very rarely with new titles like in this case).

    3. Metadata minion*

      I’ve seen that happen, but it’s usually been a case of “we knew we were going to be re-thinking this open position anyway, so now we’re going to tailor it specifically to Bob because he’s awesome”.

    4. Candi*

      Sometimes due to growth a position needs to be split.

      But the person who gets the new open position is going to be someone who can do the job (or in a bad company, a nepotism-type appointment). It’s not going to be I’m so awesome, watch me flounce.

  23. Oh No She Di'int*

    I have had this exact employee: the one who is totally unaware of how workplace systems operate and seem to think it’s their manager’s job to just whip up their ideal work scenario from thin air. Sometimes it’s just goofy and harmless. Other times it’s toxic, as they don’t seem to realize they can’t have everything they want on demand immediately and without question. This is obviously the second case, and I’d be looking to push the guy toward the exit as quickly as possible.

      1. Cinderella Sparklepants*

        Also, some days I may be less than me. That is also your fault, and you’ll need to pay me anyway.

  24. Purely Allegorical*

    I feel like this was a dramatic, off-base version of him trying to start a negotiation process. He feels underpaid/undervalued, but is going about asking for more in the wrong way. I would try to see it in that light and approach it from there.

    Also, is he aware of all the constraints you mentioned? A lot of times employees just think there is a magical pot of money waiting to be doled out, and don’t understand all the various reasons why something might not be possible. Worth laying that out to him very clearly.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Check out OP’s reply above. Talk about not understanding norms. This guy recreated an entire schedule for a project without communicating with any of the people or departments involved. Just presented the final document to his boss and said, this is what I need.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, this is my thought. Like, he thought this is how he should renegotiate his next contract early or else he’s gonna think about a job search and leave. Quite clueless, but not in an innocent way based on OP’s update above. At first I just thought he was early career and thought this was how you give notice, but that wasn’t it.

    3. LKW*

      A long time ago my parents employed someone who, once a year would start grumping around and then complain about something as a raise negotiation tactic. But this was not office/academia; she didn’t have the experience as to sitting down and negotiating a raise. This had worked for years, so there was no reason to change.

  25. animaniactoo*

    Dear Fergus.

    I received your Letter of Intent. This is to notify you that the position you are seeking does not exist at this agency, and cannot be created for you.

    Based on your contract, I am expecting that you will leave on your contractually obligated date of X, and have no plans to replace/refill your position prior to that date and expect that you will fulfill the duties of your current role as you have been contracted to do. If you believe that you will have problems doing that and would like to break your contract and resign, please advise as soon as possible.

    Your manager.”

  26. Turanga Leela*

    I had a boss who got very angry when I gave two weeks’ notice. He told me I should have let him know when I started looking for jobs. That would have been the appropriate amount of notice, in his mind.

    1. QueenOfSparq*

      The last time I did looked to switch positions, it took 18 months for me to get a new one. So no, I would never tell my current employer when I started job-searching, because you never know how long it might take!

  27. Selina Luna*

    If your employee was in a job in the education field previously, letters of intent to return to the school or school district are common, and if you’re not intending to return, then the letter effectively becomes an intent to find a new job. However, this was always something the district would send out, and they would usually do this about 3 months before the end of the school year.

    1. Meep*

      I recently petitioned for a raise with a letter outlining all the value I added to the company (including things only I know how to do) with the sole intent of leaving if my “demands” weren’t met. I didn’t outright say I would be leaving but the underline tone I could leave and go back to grad school was clear. I think he might’ve tried something like that but he actually outright threatened OP when he should’ve just left off with his accomplishments and asked to set up a meeting.

      I have a feeling the differences in approach and outcome might be more how men are taught to act vs. women.

  28. Chipotle*

    OP, I am a little confused as to whether the contract is directly with this individual, or with a company who hired him to fulfill their contractual obligations with your agency. It is also interesting to me that you describe this individual as a “direct report” (and they used to report to your boss – were they on contract then too?), but if they are on contract, then – at least in my experience – aren’t truly your employee in the sense you can fire them.

    Anyway, if the contract is with a company, then you need to contact the company (or your contracts person needs to) and lay out everything discussed here, and ask how they plan to cure (“fix”) the situation, which may include removing him from performing under the contract. They would then need to find a replacement in order to continue fulfilling the terms and conditions.

    If the contract is directly with this individual, then you should have a way to terminate (again, outlined in the T&Cs) if that is what you decide to do. You don’t need to have a sit-down with him if you don’t want to.

  29. Meep*

    My Intent to Flounce was something similar without actually saying I intended to flounce. We had someone big and important leave and I am the longest employee here with the most knowledge. So I reminded them that I deserved more pay and better benefits (all promised to me and never delivered) with the intent if they didn’t deliver, I would walk right out the door. Lucky for them, they delivered as they get me until the end of December where I will either have another job or go completely back to grad school for the year. lol.

    I think the difference is I am a woman in a man’s field so I know the subtle art of being subtle and not postering.

    1. Condoms From a Satchel*

      That is a very important art! I have learned it as well. I once was fired for asking for raise (long story but that’s the root of it) within a week I had 3 competing offers all at 30% or more than I had been making. It’s not really a flounce when you are and know you are in demand, and are in good standing in the field.
      It sound like that last component is what’s missing for OP. This person has in demand skills and knowledge but is a pain to have on staff, that part is going to bite Mr. McFlouncyPants in the hind end.

    2. Candi*

      I prefer to think of it as fields dominated by men, not men’s fields.

      Elsewhere OP mentioned nitwit is white male, OP is female, and OP’s boss is female and POC. And yes, they believe there are implications there, particularly since in another comment OP said they hadn’t been nitwit’s boss long.

      Which might be why the letter was emailed to OP’s grandboss (referred to as “he”) as well as OP and their boss.

  30. employment lawyah*

    He’s either entirely clueless and/or got truly horrific advice from someone else.

    My $0.02 is heavily on the latter: Lots of people give VERY bad advice and it’s easy to get trapped.

    I’d talk and figure out what is going on. But that’s just me.

  31. Heidi*

    Yikes. This type of person is not unknown to academia, unfortunately. In case you haven’t already, start documenting everything about his performance, including this bizarre letter and all of your correspondence. All of the requirements he failed to deliver on, deadlines missed, any feedback he’s been given and whether or not he addressed it. Keep a list of incidents when he’s treated someone unprofessionally. I’m getting the impression of someone who will badmouth your department when he leaves or even file some sort of complaint that makes its way up to administration. If his performance deficiencies are documented, it can prevent a lot of headaches.

  32. PivotPivot*

    I am wondering if Mr. McFlouncyPants had an internal dialog in his head about professional achievements by certain ages. Like by the time I am 32, I will be an Associate Professor. By the time I am 39, I will be a full professor. By 45, I will by an assistant dean of the department. By 55, I will be dean of said department.
    OP will probably not know if this internal benchmarks are being passed by and now the Mr. McFlouncyPants is in a panic, seeing it all waft away or maybe in a rage/depression. I know we are not to diagnose on here. But, maybe a panic about not-met-goals is sending him over the edge.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I agree with your point about the Flouncer’s expectations of accomplishments. Based on further input from the OP, I think, this is not coming from “I’m not making it up that ladder as quickly as planned” but, rather, from “I would have made it if these other, inferior people weren’t given the positions I earned!”

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Sadly from all the updates I think he probably feels like the last half of the closing sentence. He is not a person who should be in Upper Education.

  33. Sparkles*

    Academia eats its own and while I don’t condone this dude’s actions—clearly they are clueless at best—there is a tiny part of me, the part that watched college admins keep their six-figure salaries while underpaying adjuncts and lecturers (many of whom were fired or had their pay and benefits cut to an unlivable wage during the pandemic), who feels some satisfaction that someone got brave or drunk enough to clumsily try to stick it to someone.

    This dude will never get what he wants, and he clearly has issues and no idea about workplace norms, and he may do a bad job to boot and probably needs to go.

    But let us remember the circumstances that push many adjuncts to this place of rage in the first place. The problem here is that this guy is incompetent, but many people are simply too socially savvy or too desperate to keep their jobs to go there.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      I’ve taught adjunct and currently teach as what many places call a “professor of practice.” (No Ph.D, terminal master’s appropriate to field, no tenure.) Academia absolutely does eat its own; I’m feeling more than a bit eaten right now, and plenty have it plenty worse than I do.

      I do think, though, that there’s one rule here: don’t put students in the middle of a fight unless/until they agree to be there (and all my love to students who support labor actions!). Dr. Flounceypants, by trying to unilaterally change a course modality after term start, is royally screwing students over in a way that is just not okay, no matter how justified his upset with his employer. (Not that it sounds like his upset is terribly justified, of course.)

      1. Artemesia*

        many places use ‘lecturer’ or ‘professor of the practice’ lines for teaching lines without tenure but still expect PhD and provide decent salaries and the same benefits as professors (except perhaps for things like sabbaticals. It is a way around staffing programs with adjuncts which is just abusive of everyone from the adjunct teaching to the students stuck with adjuncts rather than regular faculty members. Lecturers and practice faculty can do the other work of teaching i.e. curriculum planning and student advising etc but have heavier teaching loads and are not expected to be researchers. It can be possible to be promoted within the ‘practice faculty’ ranks but the requirements are more likely to relate to teaching, professional leadership or publishing in teaching and perhaps professional visibility.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Yeah, adjunctification sucks. But there’s a world of difference between “Is there any possibility that my position could one day become permanent” or “Before we renew my contract for next year, can we discuss my compensation” (though if this is a public university that might not be negotiable) or “I agreed to teach a 4/4 load but these additional service requests are above my pay grade” and “give me a tenure track job or else.”

      Honestly, even rage quitting *after* getting another job wouldn’t strike me as such a bad response here. “Academia sucks but Company X is paying me twice my current salary to be a consultant AND I’ll get health insurance. This is my two week notice, good luck getting my courses covered” would burn a bridge, obviously, but at least demonstrates that the person is in touch with reality.

    3. Philosophia*

      “[C]ollege admins ke[pt] their six-figure salaries while underpaying adjuncts and lecturers (many of whom were fired or had their pay and benefits cut to an unlivable wage during the pandemic) . . .” or else oh-so-modestly called attention to the administrators’ noble decision to reduce their own pay by a fraction during 2020-21, ignoring entirely the fact that the fraction forgone was greater than an entire year’s wages for many of their contingent faculty and staff employees.

    4. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I’m glad somebody said this! This guy sounds like an absolute tool, but a lot of the people commenting on how outrageous his demands are (and they are!) don’t seem to acknowledge how toxic and tiered the academic system has become.

      We’re at a stage now where there are basically three tiers of academic:

      – Tenure-track / successfully tenured professors. The aristocracy, who have ‘won’ the game. These are the ‘real’ academics’, and have job security, money and respect.
      – Lecturers on annual (or even regular ongoing) contracts. The middle tier. You will never be guaranteed a job, and your advancement potential is limited. After a certain point if you haven’t gotten a tenure-track offer you never will.
      – Adjuncts and TAs with PhDs teaching on a course or semester basis. The underclass. Usually find out a couple weeks before the semester starts if they even have a job. Basically no chance of moving up unless they’re doing this stage *very* briefly before landing a postdoc or lecturing position.

      It’s very much this escalator model, with people being kicked off at every stage. Can’t get a postdoc after your PhD (with 200+ applicants to each one)? Too bad. Teach for a couple of years and think that’ll make a difference in your career? It won’t. You aren’t spending all your free time frantically writing and publishing papers, for free? Career prospects gone.

      Again, I have no sympathy for the guy in the OP, but people *really* don’t talk about how messed up the system is and how badly it impacts people’s mental health. Stories of people having mental health breakdowns during or after their PhDs are rife. My advisor used to say that when you fantasised about jumping in front of a car just to get a break (while in hospital), you knew you had almost finished your PhD.

      Lots of people who got their PhD, TA/adjunct for a bit, and realise there’s no career potential for them feel disenchanted and lied to.

      (‘My research was worth years of competitive government and institutional funding when I was a PhD, but now nobody wants to pay me to do it as a postdoc or wants to hire me onto any related project? And all the teaching roles are being taken by people with years and years of experience teaching those specific courses? And I was never given any proper training on how to actually teach?’ <- this is common)

      Just … I'd like people to be kind more generally when academic people talk about their experiences. Trading stories with fellow veterans of the experience, mental health impacts and breakdowns are very common, and it's harmed a lot of people's health and professional lives.

    5. DrSalty*

      Academia sucks, but the solution is to quit playing the game and find a better job in industry, not whatever this entitled bs is.

    6. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

      Considering that this guy cited “cancel culture” and “mean girls” in his letter (the details OP has been providing have been revelatory) I don’t think he is quite the poster child for horribly treated academics. Or, since I have been told by multiple people that the issues with academia are because “they let just anyone in / the field has become feminized” and so on, maybe he is.

  34. Amethystmoon*

    This was not very good on the employee’s part. Whenever you tell your boss that you are job searching, at least if it is not for another internal job, you risk being fired — in most states, anyway. Many bosses would not give him the time of day and just call the contract agency to “let him go,” or whatever terminology is now commonly used.

    1. Candi*

      OP clarified elsewhere on the page it’s academia, so it’s a contract between the college and the person.

      Since this another problem in a long list of problems this guy has been having, and it’s directly and negatively affecting his students, he’s probably going to be bounced. They need to HR and Legal to get back to them, though.

  35. SentientAmoeba*

    Unless he is literally unreplaceable, I would look into ending his contract as soon as reasonably possible. based om your updates, sooner if possible.
    Because it’s CLEARLY obvious that he is far superior to you and your boss and you just cant possibly properly handle a man of his level of intellect. Your refusal to properly convey upon him his demands as stated is further proof of that. Releasing him from his pesky contract will allow him to take hi rightful place in the land of Make Believe with the title and respect due him.

  36. Betsy S*

    As a former staff at a state university – I *seriously* worry about his students, and I wonder if something can be done to check in with them mid-semester to be sure that they’re getting the appropriate coverage. The last time I worked with a seriously disgruntled professor, that individual was, well, not doing a good job at all.
    There are scheduling constraints that go by semester, at universities. If you have a specialty subject, you can’t just throw in a substitute. You can stick a grad student with an undergrad class, but that does not always go well at all. If you can’t find a teacher for a particular specialty, you can mess up the graduation trajectories of that year’s students (because LLama Diseases 410 is offered every 2 years and requires Llama Genetics 301 and Quadruped Epidemiology 302, which requires Quadruped Bio 202 which is a yearlong course with a lab…)

    PS – at our school , the uppermost folks were getting the very high salaries. Department chairs and Assistant Deans, not so much.

  37. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

    I think they forgot that the important thing about trying to get your employer to give you a good counter offer you need an offer first.

  38. Falling Diphthong*

    I predict that an internet forum was involved. A bunch of people with no experience on the managing/hiring end and very little on the employee end re-enforced each other into the notion that this was the normal professional thing to do.

    Possibly half the forum was telling him it was a terrible idea.

  39. Essess*

    I would just be very clear.
    “I’m sorry that we cannot accommodate your requests. As has been discussed previously, the salary you are requesting is above the legal maximum salary, and there are no open positions that match what you are requesting. We contracted with you to perform these specific tasks during the academic year: [list of actual duties]. According to our employment contract with you, your current contracted end date is [X]. If you choose to end your contract before that time, the contract states that the following conditions will occur: [Y, Z.]”

  40. Plebeian Aristocracy*

    OP, I love your mini updates so much, but there are so many of them woven through these posts. I really hope that you give us a full update later with these tidbits included.

    I’m also really glad to hear that you’re laughing through this instead of letting this guy get to you. Will he take anything that happens to heart? Probably not, but you seem to be handling this amazingly well.

  41. BetsCounts*

    Does this remind anyone else of the Larry David story floating around about how he was so cheesed about one of his sketches being cut from SNL at the last minute that he quit on the spot (like 1125 Eastern on Saturday), spent all day Sunday regretting it, and came back to work on Monday like nothing had happened? I think he turned it into a plot point on Seinfeld also.

    That was funnier than this, but this is WAAAAYYYYY WEIRDER.

    1. BetsCounts*

      OMG reading the OP’s mini updates scattered throughout the threads and ITS EVEN WEIRDER THAN I THOUGHT!!!

    2. Wonderer*

      I know someone who did this in real life, but on the Monday when he showed up they had security escort him from the building…

  42. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

    All I can say is that I love everyone here. This is one of the funniest threads I’ve ever read-thank you and please don’t ever Dramatically Flounce Out Of the AAM Commentariat.

  43. Stitch*

    I’ve read the OP’s updates and the students here must be really stressed out. I want to emphasize to OP that this is really bad for them (this kind of drama and schedule mess in a major required Class?). My spouse teaches a couple classes as an adjunct engineering professor and just argh. This is so bad. If it’s possible to emergency get in someone to cover to give these poor students stability, you need to try to find it. Argh, what a mess!

    1. OP*

      It’s absolutely horrifying for the students. My boss and I are trying to keep in touch with them and make sure all is OK. It’s a small program, so I know all of them. And I’m sitting in on classes when I can.

      Yay for the first year of being a Chair.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Thank you for being an involved chair who cares about the students. They will see the effort you are putting in and the time you are spending observing Dr Jerkface Flouncey’s classes. It won’t mitigate all the damage – but it will help minimize some of it.

      2. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

        Thank you for doing your best by everyone involved, even this ridiculous employee, and definitely for caring about the students. Continue chairing well!

    2. Jack Straw*

      I saw the update about changing the course schedule — as someone taking grad school classes right now I think my heart skipped a few beats and I couldn’t breathe for a full minute. I cannot IMAGINE someone coming to me right now and telling me my classes all of a sudden required a meeting on Tuesday nights or something of the like.

      This person clearly isn’t an educator. Meet those Maslow’s needs first not disrupt the f&ck out of them.

      1. Artemesia*

        I used to teach weekend grad classes as well as grad seminars and undergrad classes during the week. Our students flew in for class weekends. I once had total laryngitis for the final weekend; canceling or changing the class would have meant airline rescheduling costs and of course other challenges for students. I taught using the computer and projector and typing questions and having students facilitate activities in team work. (when you teach 8 hours on Saturday after 4 hours on Friday night — it is of course going to involve a lot of case studies, simulations etc and not just lecture/discussion. Because it was the final weekend, part of Saturday involved team presentations which made it a bit easier as I could type and project questions and debrief without having to actually talk. It was hard but oddly worked out pretty well — canceling was just not an option as long as I could stand up. Talking less is not necessarily a bad thing and I had a couple of days to come up with plan B as it became clear that my voice would be gone in a day or two.

        Class schedules are pretty much sacred — you can’t push one domino and not have disaster.

        1. Lizzo*

          Bravo to you for the creative problem solving! I hope you hang on to that story and tell it at job interviews when they ask for examples.

      2. Candi*

        I literally had that happen in Spring quarter -and it was just a switch from asynchronous to Tuesday night virtual classes. (Fortunately the other classes were on Wednesday.) It still took a couple weeks to shake out due to the lack of warning. And I couldn’t drop it due to: 1) FAFSA 2) major req. (And Machine Organization was an interesting class in spite of it all.)

    3. Sara without an H*

      At my old university, this dude would have been killed in his tracks by the Registrar (who had been there for 30 years and could slay with a glance).

      1. Academic Anon*

        I think they are taught the killing glance in Registrar school. For the students, finding a workable schedule is advanced Jenga. Having some twit change the class scheduling, especially to in person, is absolute insanity! Imagine a student that didn’t have to come to campus that day that suddenly has to scramble for transportation. Or to reschedule a work shift. The dominoes per student is why schedules take so long to set and how seriously they are taken.

        For disabilities (several of our classroom buildings don’t have elevators) or for some other reason, the Registrar will move a class.

        Not even for the President of the University, would the Registrar move a class modality.

        The insanity marches on…

  44. Ziggy*

    While this guy obviously has lost touch with reality for how things work in academia, I do have some empathy for him. My husband worked as an assistant researcher/ lecturer at a big University for 4 years. Every year, he would approach the topic of becoming a permanent hire. And every year the department head would say that he was well-qualified, valuable, brought a lot to the department, both in terms of students and research. He created a large project that ultimately led to several large grants. And yet, the department could never “create” a position for him. There were always a dozen reasons why, some more valid than others. But they always assured him that they wanted to keep him and were looking for ways to hire him permanently. So they kept leading him along until finally, after they hired an external person instead of him to fill a gap in the department, he realized that they would never give him a permanent position. He started looking for other jobs that night.
    Academia, with their contract and lecturer and adjunct positions, can really treat their employees like crap. The uncertainty and instability, while also throwing in hope and optimism, can really skew a person’s view of the whole industry. There isn’t any reason for rudeness, but I can empathize with this person’s manic desire to have some stability and certainty for their career.

    1. Artemesia*

      There is a huge prejudice in hiring for tenure lines, the lecturers who have been working all along. Some of that is that they are often locals who are grads of the program and there is a huge and valid bias against hiring own grads. There is also a sense that they are not competitive because why else would they have hired into non-tenure track positions. It is almost unheard of for programs to hire such lecturers or adjuncts or practice faculty for tenure lines. And I am sure some very competent people are hurt by this.

    2. OP*

      Yes, that situation sucks. I was in a similar place for about 5 years, and it is soooo frustrating. I ended up having to leave that University to find a different (better) job.

  45. irene adler*

    Flip side, should you meet his demands, will he revert to ‘normal’ and behave himself, now that he’s got what he wants?
    No. He won’t.
    The “crazy” will just double down and increase. It will never cease.

    Speaking as a perpetual student, I’d be right there filing complaints to the admin/dean/folks in charge against him. Students need sane instructors as much as any of the players in this situation.

  46. Dust Bunny*

    I’ve been on staycation and not reading AAM regularly and I just got back and jumped in the deep end with this.


  47. OP*

    My standing 1-on-1 with him is at 10am tomorrow. There will undoubtedly be more soon. Sorry for the interwoven updates – I was trying to NOT make the original post findable via google search. He id definitely the kind that would monitor the web.

    1. WFH with Cat*

      I have returned to this thread repeatedly today … wildly entertained and also smh. Glad to hear you and the higher-ups have had a good laugh about it all. Will be looking forward to any future updates!

    2. Lizzo*

      I already worked my way through one batch of popcorn today, and also saved some for tomorrow! Whee!
      Good luck, OP!

    3. OrigCassandra*

      The AAM commentariat is 115% behind you, OP. I hope everything works out for the best for the students, you, and your dean.

      As for Dr. McFlounceypants… whatever Sisyphean rock lands on him, he’s earned and then some.

    4. I need to know how it went!*

      I’ve been checking the comments to see if there is an update after the one on one! Please let us know how it went!

  48. Elle by the sea*

    I’ve seen many people announce that they will begin job searching, but in a much less convoluted way. And they didn’t call it a letter of intent.

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Check out all of the OP’s updates threaded throughout the comments (CTRL-F for OP). They’re … amaze.

      1. Chickaletta*

        The comments were even better than the letter! I have a strong suspicion we’re in for an update sooner than later.

  49. *daha**

    A pewter lining: if he needs gone immediately, the asynchronous remote class(es) should be easier to fill with a sub. I’d think she could teach from anywhere at all, if the department can waive in-person meetings.

    1. Candi*

      OP posted in a reply to a comment I made that they will teach the class themselves if that’s what it takes to help the students.

  50. Jam on Toast*

    It’s almost impossible to overstate just how bad career opportunities are for academics right now. We’re talking “asteroid-that-wiped-out-the dinosaurs-bad”. It was already abysmal after 2008, with adjuncts and contract faculty making up more than 50% of the teaching staff, tenured positions getting hundreds of applications and thousands and thousands of surplus PhDs produced every year. In the past eighteen months, dozens of institutions have closed, departments eliminated and hundreds of previously full time faculty with decades of experience are now unemployed or furloughed, as well.

    That Dr. Flouncypants would imagine that somehow this sort of hardball negotiation would work …I just have no words. I have personal experience with what it’s like, having to come to terms with the the corrosive realization that the Ivory Tower doesn’t have a place for you, and it is incredibly hard. But honestly, I’m waiting with unmitigated glee for the OP’s update. Reality is going to hit them just like that asteroid! *poof*

    1. EmmaPoet*

      His lack of clue for the current reality of academia is truly astonishing. I’ve been reading this and I keep shaking my head without even knowing I’m doing it, because it is that bizarre.

  51. Alice*

    OP, I hope you send Alison a full update after meeting with him, because I’m dying here. Although things make somewhat more sense after you mentioned this is academia — my parents are both in academia so this is not the weirdest story I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close to the top!

    (The #1 crazypants story is the person who absolutely refused to accept that her department was being moved to a different building. They had already fired her a few years before (she was impossible to work with) but she sued for wrongful termination and somehow got her job back. So everyone decided that since she was not a teacher it would be easier to let her do as she pleased. For years she would just go to work into this now-empty building and locking herself inside her office to do who knows what. True story.)

  52. phira*

    This post is absolutely sending me. I’m in academia on the teaching side of things (and have been a lecturer) and I just–wow wow wow wow wowwwwwwwwww!

    OP, I am dying for your update. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! I cannot believe he CHANGED THE COURSE SCHEDULE one week in like that oh my goodness, I am so horrified and also laughing so hard.

  53. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — It sounds as though you’re doing everything you can. Yes, by all means, get very clear input from your contracts officer and/or legal counsel about what’s in this dude’s contract and how much latitude you and your deans have here. Given that his tantrums are affecting his students, I don’t see how you can let him stay until June in a teaching role. You need to find a way to get him out by the end of December at the latest.

    That said — Is there anyone in your faculty pool who is qualified to teach this course and could, maybe, open another section, so that Dr. Flouncy’s students could transfer out of his class, if necessary? I think you’re going to need a Plan B at some point.

    If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend The College Administrator’s Survival Guide (2nd ed.), by C.K. Gunsalus. It is readily available in print and electronic formats — or your college librarian could order you a copy.

  54. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Thank him for his letter, and since he stated December or Spring reply with December assuming you are able to end his contract.
    And add your conditions, December, no rehire, no future consideration, and no severance package (assuming that is not breaking any legal obligations). You are willing to do these things to let him out of his contract early.

    And begin hiring for a replacement for January if you cannot cover it internally.

  55. AMM*

    Other people in the comments have mentioned that a Letter of Intent can actually be something else beyond a formal notification between companies of the intention to do business together, but even in a different context it doesn’t seem to fit this situation.

    1. WonderfulWonderful*

      In my job, a letter of intent is the formal “pay our invoice or we intend to sue you” notice – very different feel!

  56. nerd4life*

    Well this is extra! That being said I work in the pharma industry and most companies have policies where you have to formally advise your manager if you are APPLYING for positions outside of your department. It’s actually quite uncomfortable and inconvenient….

  57. TeaCoziesRUs*

    So what’s today’s update, OP?

    Also, let me know when you see Dr. Flouncypants McGagme on Newsmax or Fox “pwning the libtards” and screeching about how higher education is a bastion of pure evil and how women should NEVER be bosses of Men. That seems worthy of his time and energy.

  58. NeedRain47*

    When I left my academic (staff) job they gave me the opportunity to tell them what it would take to get me to stay… I didn’t even bother b/c I knew it wouldn’t be possible. Now I wish I’d written a fun demand letter like this guy. Not only do I want a higher salary I want a fancy title and I want it printed on a sign on my reserved parking space! Cripes.

      1. Brooks*

        At one of my previous buildings, we had a security person with an odd sense of humor, who one weekend put up a sign at one of the prime parking spots that said “Employee of the Month”. Now, we are a global company with tens of thousands of employees; we do not have an “employee of the month” program or a parking spot for them at a random small building. He got rather a bit of amusement out of how many people left it un-parked-in regardless, though.

        Somehow, the sign stayed up for years, which I think was another commentary on bureaucracy and such.

  59. EmmaPoet*

    All flouncers should be in full bellydance costume. Or a flamenco dress. You simply cannot flounce properly without a really big skirt. Hoopskirts may also be permitted for those who can walk properly in them and avoid flattening small children when they flounce.

  60. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I don’t remember ever wanting an update so badly. I wonder what happened at the one-on-one.

  61. Janet Rosen*

    Ok. Am I the only one getting alarm bells about someone miles past laugh-at-it clueless and being a prospective workplace shooter?

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