Ask the grumpies: Present for a new TT prof?

Jennifer asks:

My friend has landed a (TT, I think) professorship position for the fall, and her birthday will be here soon.  I’d love to get her a gift that somehow gives a nod to her new job (which she is understandably excited about), or will at least, be helpful.

She’s already purchased [NAME OF SCHOOL] clothing for herself, and I hesitate to purchase any more school paraphernalia, since I don’t know what she already has.  I’m also not sure if she is going to be doing mostly teaching or mostly research, or a roughly equal amount of both (if it makes a difference).
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Hm… let us think… what are things we have found useful…

A clock.  Boice’s Advice for New Faculty Members.  Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion.  A french press and ground coffee (or beans an electric grinder).  Chocolate.  Hand towels.

My MIL has a lot of precious memories stuff specific to the discipline she teaches.  You probably don’t want to go down that route.  However, depending on her discipline, discipline-specific earrings or funky t-shirts etc. would not be a terrible idea.

#2 notes Ferule and Fescue’s recent post about unexpected expenses and delays in payment and suggests money.  #1 thinks that money’s probably not a good idea because it’s a friend and not a relative, but maybe a gift certificate instead of money. But a gift card to where?  Someplace to buy work clothing?  Places in town to get take-out?  #2 suggests for a maid service or for massage.  (But only if your friend likes such things.)

11 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Present for a new TT prof?”

  1. GMP Says:

    “Ms. Mentor’s impeccable advice for women in academia”?
    FSP’s “Academeology”
    I don’t know the field, but if she’s in a STEM field she will surely do Power Point presentations a lot; buy her a green laser pointer? They look cool and can burn someone’s retina off!
    Espresso machine
    Reclining arm chair for office, so she can take a nap at work (not kidding; very important! although probably more pricey than intended)

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    I’m with GMP on the office chair (I was going to suggest a couch, in fact). For me, the cool thing about becoming a professor was that my office was for the first time ever MY space, showing that I belonged. So getting something that “marks territory” or personalizes the office would be a great idea: A cool whiteboard for the office door, a nice area rug, etc.

  3. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    I’m going to second the money or gift card idea; if the person is moving and/or making the transition from grad student or instructor to TT prof, money may be tight (although if she’s already bought school paraphernalia, maybe it’s not actually that tight, come to think about it. Pass the coffee, please). A great gift I got from a houseguest in my first year was a roll each of quarters, nickels, and dimes for tolls (this was long before those handy little electronic passes). It wasn’t actually a big investment for her but it was so handy for me to skip a trip to the bank and avoid digging through my change at every toll stop. I guess what I’m saying is that if you do it right, money can be thoughtful and not so impersonal.

  4. plantingourpennies Says:

    My (retired univ prof) FIL always loved this book, and gave it to a lot of new people in his department over the years:

    • plantingourpennies Says:

      Ooh, and when my MIL joined the same faculty years later, my FIL gave her a fake window. Think Tiffany style window in frame with a light box behind it. So she could say she had a “window office”. New faculty were relegated to the dark recesses of the building.

  5. rented life Says:

    I was given a nice desk gift basket–purell, Kleenex, snacks and tea, fun thing to put pens in. Maybe thrown in the books that are being suggested.

  6. psycgirl Says:

    Gift cards for office supplies and such! A lot of places don’t provide those things. And I can totally justify buying the expensive post-it notes if someone gives me a gift card!

  7. chacha1 Says:

    I was going to say gift card for office-supply store. :-) That is going to be useful no matter what. Decor for the office may be premature – suggesting a “housewarming” for the office might go over once the new professor has had a chance to settle in and figure out what’s good/bad about the space.

  8. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    If you’re gonna give a gift card, and Amazon one is perfect! They sell f*cken everything, and don’t take any vigorish for the gift card.

  9. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! I will report back after I’ve made a decision.

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