In the next two weeks, the Committee on Appropriations and Promotions (CAP) will be reviewing all previously authorized searches for faculty hires in light of the College’s efforts to reduce spending.
“The CAP will be reviewing all visiting and tenure-track positions and determining which we will go forward with this year and which will be delayed temporarily,” Bill Wagner, dean of the Faculty said.
The committee does not plan on rescinding authorization for any tenure-track positions at this point, only delaying those for a year that are not deemed essential. Searches for visiting appointments that are not reconfirmed, however, will need to be requested and reauthorized by the CAP in the spring because they usually last only one semester or year.
Departments and programs that have been previously authorized to make hires have been asked to submit a statement explaining the impact of delayed appointments on their respective programs and majors or concentrators, according to Wagner. “In making its decisions, the CAP will place a priority on protecting the integrity of majors and concentrations and ensuring the ability of students to progress through and complete them,” he said.
The CAP will employ three criteria in determining which searches to continue and which to postpone. It plans to assess the degree to which filling a position this year is essential for students to progress through their major or concentration requirements, to enable them to fulfill College requirements and to sustain an interdisciplinary program.
Currently the art, chemistry, classics, computer science, economics, geosciences, history, math, political science, romance languages and theater departments have been approved to conduct searches for a total of 15 or more visiting or tenure-track faculty positions, according to the Dean of the Faculty’s Web site. Wagner did not comment on the exact number of searches in question. Excluding the athletics department, the College currently has 257 tenure and tenure-eligible faculty.
The economics department, which had been previously authorized to hire two tenure-track faculty members, has already begun to receive applications for these positions. According to Stephen Sheppard, chair and professor of economics, the delay in hiring will adversely affect students of the subject. “At this point we have not finalized all of those impacts, but they would certainly involve larger class sizes, and could possibly result in cancellation of essential courses for the political economy major,” he said.
Wagner anticipates that the delays in hiring are only short-term measures. “We hope and expect that any reduction in the size of the faculty will be temporary,” he said.
While faculty hiring will be reduced this year compared to years past, in a question-and-answer session with the Record, President Schapiro said that today’s market conditions offer a unique opportunity to acquire some very talented professors because rival institutions are scaling back on hiring as well.
He also voiced a preference for hiring professors for tenure-track positions over visiting ones. “I’d take a tenure track over a visitor any day, although some of the visitors are – absolutely spectacular,” he said, adding that tenure-track professors usually receive better student evaluations and become more engaged in campus life.