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Senior hires bolster new, small crop

The year in faculty hires was long on quality but short on quantity, as senior hires dominated but the overall number of new faculty members decreased from normal levels.

Major hires included Albert Chang in physics and nanoscience, Harris Cooper in education, Sherman James in public policy studies and Wendy Wood in psychology, said Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William Chafe, who called 2002-2003 "a banner year in terms of recruiting leaders."

Three departments - history, education and religion - searched externally for a new chair. Although the religion department was unsuccessful in its recruitment efforts, Cooper has been hired to lead education and Sarah Deutsch has been identified as the desired candidate to succeed current history chair John Thompson in 2004. Deutsch's appointment must await upcoming hearings of the Appointment, Promotion and Tenure committee.

"It's rare to get anything approaching unanimity for a group of academics, but this is the closest to unanimity I've ever seen," Thompson said. "My guess would be if you asked the department to 'vote,' which we didn't do, we would have chosen her."

Chafe said that religion's failure to find a new chair is not unusual, adding that "two out of three [chairs] is actually quite good."

Following a year in which almost two-thirds of the hires were for senior faculty, the focus of most of next year's searches will return to junior faculty positions.

Chafe said he anticipated about 25 to 28 faculty searches for the coming academic year, down from 32 the past two years and 42 in 2000-2001. He credited this lower-than-usual number to the "fragile edifice" that is the Arts and Sciences budget.

With an average 75 percent yield rate on faculty searches, the number of new hires next year could end up at about 21. However, the average number of retiring faculty members is 28 to 30, suggesting the possibility of a shrinking faculty for 2003-2004.

Budget woes-the reason behind the declining number of searches-have been exacerbated this year by rising financial aid costs. In addition to a 10 percent increase in aid eligibility among undergraduates, the University received less money from the state and federal government this year, to the tune of between $1 and 2 million. An appeal has won back some of this money, but Chafe still estimated the extra cost of financial aid to the Arts and Sciences budget to be between $1.5 and 2.5 million.

"If we can find a way to deal with the financial aid problem, we will find a delicate balance," Chafe said. "We will be okay, though not robustly okay."

The specter of potential faculty cuts has been in the news since a budget task force led by Professor of Public Policy Studies Philip Cook suggested in Oct. 2002 that it might be necessary to cut up to 50 faculty positions-in a worst-case scenario-to save Arts and Sciences from running extreme deficits over the next few years. Major cuts have not been necessary so far, however, as Arts and Sciences has scraped by with the help of two straight years of unexpectedly high summer school revenues and a 5 percent tuition increase this year.


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