A week after a University committee announced that Yale’s system of managing faculty positions will change, faculty have expressed varied reactions.
Though Yale’s structure for faculty positions — which are known as “slots” — will change slightly, the size of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will remain constant, according to a report sent to faculty last week. The report compiled the findings and recommendations of the Academic Review Committee, a group that was charged in August 2012 with reviewing the allocation of faculty positions across University divisions and departments. Professors interviewed said they were split on the effectiveness of the ARC’s proposals.
“It is hard to argue with an approach that provides greater clarity about available slots and enables the University to respond to priorities and opportunities,” said Philosophy Department Chair Stephen Darwall ’68. But, he added, “Clearly this will require some shared sacrifice.”
The ARC recommended the creation of a new FAS Faculty Resource Committee 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 2008 recession, and fewer slots will be left vacant.
While classics professor Christina Kraus said the Provost’s Office has not yet determined the number of slots within her department, she believes vacant slots will be filled in the future.
“It has been a while since people remember having a slot was a pretty good indicator of their ability to hire someone,” ARC Chair and economics professor Steven Berry said last week. “And under the new system, it should be.”
Still, other professors found the ARC’s recommendations to be flawed.
There is not much the new slot system does to help newer departments and programs, said women’s, gender and sexuality studies professor Inderpal Grewal.
Grewal said her small department has no vacant slots, and so it is unlikely to be able to take advantage of the common University slot pool. She added that in general, she believes larger departments benefit more from the ARC’s proposal.
Grewal said she believes the ARC recommendations make it easier for departments who have not focused on diversity hires to do so in the future. For departments like hers, which have already taken strides towards diversity, it will be harder to earn new slots.
“I worry that since we are diverse, we won’t be able to make claims for diversity,” Grewal said. “I worry that [other departments] will get more incentives to do diversity and diversity won’t go to us. I don’t see how we can even benefit from any of this.”
Others, however, view the changes to FAS slot procedures as inconsistent with hiring occurring elsewhere in the University.
Molecular, cellular and developmental biology professor Joel Rosenbaum said while he is confident his department will be able to fill vacant slots in the future, he questions how new faculty appointments in West Campus can occur while the total size of the FAS is set to remain constant.
Still, Berry defended the ARC’s report.
“I think that overall this is a positive thing,” Berry said last week. “The overhang was going to be eliminated one way or the other.”
The ARC informally presented its report to professors last Thursday for discussion.