Doubled searches to have little impact on FAS size

Though Yale’s academic departments are conducting twice as many searches for new faculty members this year as they did in 2010-’11, most of those programs are not expected to see a net gain in faculty.

There are currently 81 authorized faculty searches across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, primarily intended to fill openings left by departed or retired professors, Provost Peter Salovey said in a Monday email. While the searches span more than 30 departments and programs, Salovey said he does not anticipate that the total number of tenured and tenure-track professors in FAS will grow significantly from those new hires.

Administrators have aimed to keep the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty members in FAS at roughly 700 since the economic downturn hit in 2008. In the coming academic year, Salovey said, he projects that the faculty size will rise to 700 or more from its current level, 691 professors.

But the overall increase in Yale’s professors will only translate to faculty growth in engineering departments, as the School of Engineering received a $50 million gift last March that will fund 10 new professorships, Salovey said. The decisions to authorize all other searches were made to fill specific vacancies, he added.

“Those decisions are based on a review of the department’s teaching needs, its coverage of different fields, opportunities to increase the diversity of the faculty, and opportunities to recruit a particularly distinguished scholar or scientist to Yale,” Salovey said.

Currently, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Steering Committee has authorized searches for West Campus, 14 departments and programs in the humanities, six in the social sciences, four in engineering and eight in the biological and physical sciences, Salovey said. Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said in a Tuesday email that the majority of those searches began this summer, though roughly 10 carried over from last year.

Despite the overall increase in faculty searches, History Department chair Laura Engelstein said in a Tuesday email that her department has only been approved to look for two new hires — one junior faculty member in modern Middle East history and one in Latin American history. Engelstein said the department, which currently has 61 assistant, associate and tenured professors, has seen a reduction in authorized searches in recent years and has positions that have remained vacant since 2009.

“There are fields we might want to add, but these are decisions the department will have to make, in consultation with the deans and provosts, in relation to the opening of the two new colleges and to the budget situation in coming years,” she said.

Within the Mathematics Department, the only authorized searches are two for senior faculty that began last spring and have yet to be completed, department chair Yair Minsky said. The department has shrunk to its current size of 16 professors over the past 15 years, Minsky said, though he added that it has grown slightly over the past two years and shifted toward hiring more tenure-track faculty.

The Sociology Department, which will have 19 faculty members after two new professors begin work on July 1, had one search for a senior faculty member approved last semester, department chair Julia Adams said. She added that the department has grown to a “healthy size” over the past decade, following its decline in the early 1990s.

Administrators determine the number of searches to authorize each year based on projections about faculty departures and how many hires will result from ongoing searches, Salovey said. He added that senior faculty searches can take two or three years, while searches for assistant professors are generally completed the year they are approved.

There were 34 authorized searches in the 2010-’11 academic year, Salovey said.

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