Faculty hirings still on hold

With budgets still tight and a faculty that swelled over the past decade, the University will delay most faculty searches for at least another year.

Departments that could make a strong case for hiring new faculty — either to fill gaps in their academic programs or to push certain fields — were authorized to conduct some searches this year, for a total of 23 active recruitments this fall. But administrators also expect enough professors to retire or leave Yale to match that number.

In other words, they aim to not grow the faculty at all this year. Now entering the second straight year of restricted hiring, some departments say they’ve given up on adding new positions for now.

“We’ve authorized a certain number and we’re going to keep it there,” Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said. (The Provost’s Office oversees faculty hiring.)

Among the departments allowed to recruit new professors this fall is History, which has four active searches. Two, in colonial U.S. history and African history, will replace professors who retired or departed; the others, in south Asian history and the history of science and medicine, will fill important gaps in the department’s programming, history chair Paul Freedman said.

But those approvals, which came last year, were the exception rather than the norm as administrators sought to slow the rate of hiring. Still, the number of tenure-track professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences grew from 697 to 709 last year. This year, hiring will only increase if more people retire or leave than expected, Provost Peter Salovey said.

Some department chairs said they have struggled to fill or work around open teaching posts.

French Department Chair Thomas Kavanagh said his department requested a search for a junior-level professor of 19th and 20th century French and Francophone poetry last spring to replace the outgoing junior faculty member in that area, but the FAS steering committee denied the request.

“We now find ourselves with no faculty member covering that crucial area,” Kavanagh said in an e-mail.

Such is the situation facing the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department, which department chair Edward Kamens said has been forced to cut back its course offerings since two professors left in the past 18 months. The departures created vacancies in the areas of Japanese theater studies and modern Japanese literature, Kamens said.

With so few professors in the department, Kamens said, faculty have taken on more administrative responsibilities at the cost of their teaching time. Kamens decided not to teach one graduate seminar because of his work as chair, while the directors of undergraduate and graduate studies also dropped one class each, he said.

“To do all that work, we cannot teach full loads,” Kamens said.

Even so, Kamens said the department recently learned its requested searches for this academic year had been denied.

Other departments have given up on trying. Avi Silberschatz, chair of the Computer Science Department, said his department did not request any new searches this year because “it was clear that I would not get any.”

But even as these departments begin to plan for and work around these gaps in their faculty, others are still preparing to make their cases to the FAS to replace outgoing professors. Sociology Department Chair Julia Adams said her department is in the process of requesting a replacement for outgoing professor and former department chair Karl Ulrich Mayer. Harry Stout, chair of the Religious Studies Department, said he is waiting for word on his search request from the FAS steering committee.

Both departments are also in the process of conducting searches for positions approved last year, Adams and Stout said.

Before the financial crisis, the number of FAS professors ballooned from 599 to 697 between 1999 and 2009, according to a memo administrators sent to department and program chairs. Both the growth of the endowment and the prospect of adding two new residential colleges helped propel the expansion, the memo said.

“The faculty has grown in extraordinary ways,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an interview Wednesday. “Everyone’s going to be asked to take a deep breath [this year].”

Yale’s science and engineering departments benefited especially from the growth leading up to 2008. Five professors joined the department of chemical and environmental engineering between the fall of 2006 and the summer of 2008 — a huge number by most departments’ standards, chair Paul Van Tassel said.

Since then, though, the department has slowed its hiring, he said.

“Our feeling after that was let’s just get these guys off to a good start and focus on growing sort of in quality for a few years,” Van Tassel said. “But we need to be back in growth mode within a few years.”

Last year, the Provost’s Office focused on hiring professors for understaffed departments and pushing growth in certain others, according to the memo.

Comments

  • Prof3

    Does the *Daily* *News* have aspirations to be anything other than a shill for the administration?

    “Ballooned?” Ask how many administrators they have hired in the past 10 years. I’ll make it simple: compare the number of *Vice Presidents* in 2000 to the number now. And remember than every Vice President needs a couple of assistant or deputy vice presidents, plus half a dozen administrative assistants.