Faculty recruitment declines

As administrators look for more ways to tighten the budget, department chairs said they worry important faculty searches could be the next to go.

In ongoing meetings with department chairs — the second of which will take place today — administrators will lay out guidelines for which faculty searches can continue and which will be pushed off in the wake of the endowment’s 24.6 percent plunge. Typically, only provosts are present at these yearly budget meetings, but in light of the current financial situation, University President Richard Levin said he will be attending to provide additional advice.

In an e-mail sent to the Yale community in September, Levin said all searches — both new ones and those that have already been authorized — would be scrutinized heavily.

“We will continue to hire faculty, but some searches will need to be delayed for a year or two,” Provost Peter Salovey said yesterday in an e-mail.

Department chairs said they already have a sense of which positions will have to remain unfilled. Millicent Marcus, the chair of the Italian department, said she has already postponed one faculty search to next year because she thinks it would not be likely to receive administrative approval.

“It looks like it’s going have to wait for better budgetary times,” Marcus said.

Marcus is hardly alone: all six department chairs interviewed said their departments, too, will likely have to cope with lasting vacancies that might have been filled in a stronger economic climate.

Though smaller departments may have been hit the hardest by budget cuts, Yale’s largest departments are not immune to the hiring slowdown, either. History department chair Laura Engelstein said her department has also placed faculty searches on hold. She added that the unpredictability of faculty searches makes a delay manageable.

“Sometimes, in a faculty search, a person doesn’t come right away,” Engelstein said. “There’s flexibility built into this search process.”

Still, not everyone has to wait for answers. Other departments have already been told by the Provost’s Office that certain positions will not be filled and that should adapt accordingly. For example, in the Neurobiology Department, a professor hired last year vacated the post in July, neurobiology chair Pasko Rakic said. Now, someone from within the department must cover the course he was slated to teach.

Across departments that currently have vacancies, chairs have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to faculty searches. Anthropology department chair William Kelly said he has been told to hold off on filling an archaeology post that became vacant over the summer, as well as on three faculty searches already authorized by the University.

“It’d be a real concern if we weren’t allowed to find a replacement,” Kelly said.

Yale’s departments are now expected trim an additional 5 percent of non-personnel expenses from their budgets, on top of the 7.5 percent cuts in personnel and non-personnel spending they have already made.

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