Dean’s Email

As I’ve said, I just began a tenure-track position at a university near Pittsburgh; tenure-track positions are hard to come by, and I am so lucky that I have one. It’s a lot to ask in only my second semester to take 3/4 of the semester off. It puts my Chair in a hard position – he has to get coverage for the courses pretty quickly, and he has to pay people to take over. This costs money and time. I’m really appreciative of how supportive they’ve been after only knowing me for less than six months.

What a relief when, this morning, I received this lovely email from my college Dean:

Hello ***,

You wrote:  “Thank you so much for being so understanding and flexible.  I know this is a lot to ask in my second semester here.  I hope my work ethic demonstrated in the fall is enough to show you that I will continue to fulfill my commitment to the university when I return.”

Please know that our chief concern at this point is your state of mind, and then a successful surgery and recovery.  You have chosen an employer who offers excellent sick-leave and health care benefits.  These are enough to take care of you, and to cover for you while you are indisposed.  If you think of any problems you would need our help with, please be sure to let us know.  We would do the best we can to support you.

And, for the record yes, you have demonstrated a terrific work ethic, and please do not be concerned about how WE would cope with things in your absence.  It’s really the other way around.  And please be assured that we will keep your health status confidential.

sincerely yours,

I am fortunate to work in such a generous community. I know many people do not have that luxury.



  1. I felt similarly guilty about taking time off from work. I was hired by a new employer in May 2012 and in September I had to tell my boss that I was BRCA1 positive and would have major surgery before the end of the year. Before I told my boss I was worried about my job security, but once I’d decided the time had come to explain what was on the horizon I began to focus on my health. I was really pleased to discover that when it comes to life vs death stakes, I communicate the urgency clearly…and my employer responded well!

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