For the 2011-2012 academic year, the Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculty hired 39 new members to the Colgate University Faculty. For comparison, Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty Bruce Selleck said that the number is “not hugely unusual.” In fact, in 2010-2011, the number hired was 34. However, the increase over the past two years does have significance, and the Office of the Provost is working to address the needs of the larger Class of 2014.
When the Office of the Faculty sets out to hire new professors for the upcoming academic year, there are several aspects that must be considered. There are three categories of new faculty that can be hired: tenure stream positions, which include new assistant professors who the Office hopes will one day apply for tenure, one to two-year endowed positions known as visiting chairs and visiting assistant professors who fill in for University faculty who are on leave. Because of the increase in class size of the sophomore class, 2010 and 2011 saw an increase in the number of hired visiting professors in both categories. For the 2011-2012 academic year, 19 of the hired faculty members are tenure stream positions and 20 are visiting faculty.
However, more than just the sophomore class size was taken into account in the decision to increase faculty employment. The expansion of tenure stream position arises out of new initiative created by President Jeffrey Herbst. In 2010, President Herbst and Selleck announced the opening of eight new tenure stream positions. Of those eight positions, five will be added this year. The jump in the number of tenure stream positions hired also reflects the large number of Colgate University professors who are approaching retirement. With the 19 tenure stream positions, Selleck says the university is “preparing to replace” faculty members who will be leaving campus over the next few years. “For students,” he said, “there is a certain vitality of having new people arrive.” The utmost emphasis, however, is placed on the quality and teaching ability of professors.
The process of hiring new faculty to Colgate is complex and what Selleck calls “labor intensive.” The span of the process can run from early September to as late as February of the following year.
During that time, departments request for new and open positions, receive permission from the Dean of the Faculty and Deans Advisory Council and begin the preliminary course of recruitment. The procedure includes online advertisement, primary interviews and invitations for potential candidates to come to Colgate and even host student lectures on campus.
In order to make decisions on hiring faculty, Selleck takes into account both departmental and undergraduate requests and requirements. For example, this past academic year increases were made in the departments of Political Science and Economics based on the number of waitlisted and empty seats in each class. While there is an increase in student demands in these areas, Selleck said that, “student interests change, so we have to be cautious.” However cautious, the work of the Office of the Dean of Faculty seems to be effective. This fall has already seen a decrease in both waitlisted students and empty seats in classes of these two departments.
To fund the increase in hired faculty over the past two years, the Dean of Faculty looks to several different sources of revenue from the school. With the increase in the number of students in the Class of 2014, comes an increase in the funds gained from student tuition, the greatest source of inflow for faculty compensation. Another area of revenue is the endowment of the university. Many across campus, typically senior faculty, are even hired with salaries funded by specified endowments for a department. The alumni annual fund serves as a final source of profit for faculty compensation.
On September 12, 2011, Selleck saw the hard work of his Office pay off when he introduced the new faces of 2011-2012 faculty. Selleck said that the introduction was like the welcoming of a “new incoming freshmen class.” Overall, the experience reminded him of the important investment he and other Colgate professors and administrators had made to ensure that the faculty hired could carry on the work ethic of the institution and inspire both themselves and their students to reach beyond it.
Contact Taylor Fleming at [email protected]