- The willingness to cease fighting battles after they're won (or lost).
- The willingness to create safe places for junior colleagues to make mistakes and learn from them. (Safe places to ask for advice, present papers, brainstorm ideas, vent. . . .)
- The willingness to experiment without preconceived notions about how the experiments might turn out.
I hope that those folks choosing among offers this year focus on collegiality and the REAL signs of it. No school is completely collegial all the time, but if the community displays the wish of returning to collegiality every time there's a temporary departure, that's a good, good sign.
And now a plug for my future school: when I stepped down and started my sabbatical, several people (some of whom are related to me) wanted to know why I didn't want to shop around for another post. The answer is easy: I think I've found a place that has what I want. It's egalitarian in the sense that everyone on the faculty has a say (no caste system here), and it has a number of high-profile, high achievers already. It's one of the most diverse faculties I've seen (bravo to Dick Morgan for assembling such a good mix). It accommodates couples of all stripes. (I've even heard that there are conservatives on the faculty--and I'm looking forward to listening to their points of view.) Most of all, I got a real sense that the worst thing that one could say about the place was that everyone was NICE.
So far, my own observations about UNLV have confirmed that impression over and over. So why didn't I look for a more, um, established school? First off, I like being part of something new. I like being one of the people who will create new traditions someplace--as well as brand-new programs. Second, I'm at the stage at which I want to spend my time writing and teaching. People can find me easily enough at UNLV, and they can read my work on SSRN. It doesn't matter to me what the ranking of the school is; it DOES matter to me what the personality of the school is--whether I believe that the school facilitates synergies among the folks there.
So: offerees, think long and hard about what you want. Do you want support for your work? Encouragement to try (and fail, and try again)? Do you want to limit the number of class preps before tenure so that you can get some of your writing done? Do you want to be with senior colleagues who are still writing, still improving their teaching skills, still engaged? You should spend some time thinking about what you want and what priorities you have on your wish list.
This choice is going to be very difficult for you, so spend some time with friends who can help you sort things out (and spend some time alone). Finally, two more things that might help: