Hi there. I need advice on managing my current job/career trajectory.
I am an assistant professor in a graduate school program in a small college. I have been in the job since 2007 and held the title as Asst. Professor. I have a contractual obligation to pursue a PhD. Last year I started my PhD program while I also held the administrative director role for my program on top of teaching.
Close to the end of last academic year, I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer and had surgery. Since I am contracted yearly teaching only 9 months of the year, I was able to recover of the summer months without taking time away from my job. I withdrew from my PhD program because I can not take that on right now on top of my teaching load and getting better. I had asked my college to give me time to get better before pursuing my contractual obligation of the PhD. They responded that since I am contacted yearly, they will have to evaluate this on a year to year basis. Additionally, since I will no longer be pursuing the doctoral program, my title and responsibilities will no longer be considered as a faculty member and I will be considered solely as an Instructor. My core teaching responsibilities and salary will not change. It has been conveyed that this will not be seen as a demotion. I am concerned that it will look like one and be perceived as one despite senior administration in my institution saying it isn't.
My college environment is changing from a teaching institution to a research institution where faculty with PhDs are valued over those without PhDs. With my health, I can't do the doctoral work on top of my teaching load so I have begun to look for work elsewhere. I will continue on with my position at the college until I have a job offer in hand.
In my job search and discussion with future employers, how do I handle the questions on the job title changes without disclosing Cancer and my health as what was the cause of the change? How do I also handle the questions from other faculty on campus, students and alumni, asking about why I am no longer the director for the program? The only reason I am no longer the Director of the program because I got Cancer. But I want to answer questions about why I am no longer the director honestly without discrediting my colleague who is essential now my boss (when I was his last year)?
I am trying to figure out how best to protect my personal brand separate from the Cancer diagnosis. Or do I come clean about the impact of Cancer in my career? Any resources or advice would be welcome.