Though the University’s system of managing faculty positions — known as “slots” — will change slightly, the size of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will remain constant, according to a report emailed to professors Monday. The report compiled the findings and recommendations of the Academic Review Committee (ARC), a committee charged in August 2012 with reviewing the allocation of faculty positions across University divisions and departments. In the release, the ARC recommended the creation of a new Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Faculty Resource Committee (FRC) to oversee both a new common pool of faculty slots and the permission process for conducting searches for new faculty. Under the guidance of the FRC, departments will once again manage their own slots, as they did before the recession, and fewer slots will be left vacant.
“We really decided to design a new process, a new system that would guide the University moving forward,” said Steven Berry, an economics professor and chair of the ARC. “We’re trying to put governance of faculty resources in the hands of the faculty.”
Compared to the current central committee responsible for faculty slots, the FRC will include more professors who do not serve in administrative roles, Berry said.
The FRC will manage the new pool, known as the Faculty Resource Pool, which will consist of half-slots drawn from some of the faculty slots that will become vacant, the report said. These half-slots will be available each year to departments to match with their own half-slots. These resources can be used to support diversity or spousal hires, to help meet teaching needs and to support general academic excellence. Individual departments can draft proposals to use some of the pool resources.
Deputy Provost Tamar Gendler said the Faculty Resource Pool will help support University-wide priorities such as faculty diversity. Still, only a very small number of slots — roughly six out of the nearly 700 slots in FAS — will be part of the pool at any given time, she said.
“Our recommendations are intended to enhance the faculty’s collective capacity to shape the future of the University in a manner that is rational, fair, effective and transparent,” the report said. “A primary goal of the Academic Review Committee is to create a system to distribute faculty resources across departments and programs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in a fair and responsive way.”
Currently, there are three kinds of faculty slots, according to the report: department, incremental and University slots.
Department slots, which account for roughly 90 percent of total slots, are allocated to different departments and managed by the departments themselves. Incremental slots create new positions. University slots, on the other hand, represent only 10 percent of total slots and are currently managed by a central committee and allocated to departments on an as-needed basis. One type of University slot are mortgaged slots, which are distributed on a short-term basis under specific repayment conditions and are usually relinquished as soon as a faculty member in the department leaves the University.
In the prosperous years before to the recession, many departments were authorized to gain incremental slots, but many of these slots were not filled immediately, Berry said. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, there was about a 15 percent vacancy rate, he said. Historically, the number of vacant slots was only 10 percent.
Because many slots had been authorized but not filled, Yale faced a problem known as “overhang” — a term coined by a previous committee to describe the difference between the number of authorized faculty slots on the books and the number of slots that the department’s budget can afford to support.
Consequently, the central committee overseeing faculty hiring had to deny a lot of positions because there was no budget to fill them, Berry said.
“It led to a lot of frustration,” he added.
While the committee initially thought a five percent across-the-board cut in authorized slots would be needed to address the “overhang,” the report recommends that the high vacancy rate be reduced by eliminating all vacant University slots from departmental books, repaying mortgaged slots and redistributing any unfair allocation of incremental slots made prior to the recession.
According to the report, these three actions will reduce the “overhang,” bringing the vacancy rate to within about 1 percent of its target, 10 percent.
Reducing the “overhang” will allow the FRC to more easily approve high-quality search requests, the report said.
“It has been a while since people remember having a slot was a pretty good indicator of their ability to hire someone,” Berry said. “And under the new system it should be.”
The ARC recommended that the target rate of flow into the Faculy Resource Pool be equal to one half of the expected rate of senior faculty departures. Berry said about 2 percent of senior faculty leave every year, so the target flow rate will average about one percent of total FAS senior department slots per year. The report also notes that the flow of resources into and out of the slot pool should be kept in balance.
The ARC will informally present its report to professors on Thursday for discussion.