FAS plans hiring spree as Yale faculty size lags behind peers
The University will aim to fill more than 70 tenure track positions in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in three dozen departments following administrative recommitments to invest in faculty.
Vaibhav Sharma, Photo Editor
This year, Yale will nearly double its job searches for tenured and tenure track faculty, chipping away at the deficits some faculty say have grown between their departments and those of peer institutions.
Over the coming year, the University will seek to fill 71 ladder positions — nearly double the typical number — in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler announced in an Oct. 14 email to faculty. The move comes as the University attempts to bolster its faculty size, which has lagged behind peer institutions in recent years. Though not all 71 positions will be filled in the next year, the unprecedented number of searches points to an unusually large class of faculty arriving in the fall.
In a statement to the News, Gendler said that searches will occur across all four divisions of the FAS: Humanities, Sciences, Social Sciences and the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. Departments conducting multiple searches include History, Statistics & Data Science and Computer Science; a number of others will see individual searches as well. Gendler also told the News that 37 searches are new, 14 are ongoing searches from previous years and 20 are unresolved, meaning an offer has been made or will be made in the near future. An additional 16 faculty members have already committed to begin next fall, Gendler said.
John Geanakoplos, economics professor, recently called for increased investments in faculty hiring following the release of astronomical endowment returns. He called the searches “a step in the right direction.” Still, he said that the growth of Yale’s faculty ranks has not kept pace with competitors for many years.
“There’s an opportunity now to fulfill the promise the Provost made two years ago on the floor of the faculty Senate: he acknowledged the size gap and salary gap between us and our competitors, and he promised to close the gap,” Geanakopolos said.
Geanakoplos pointed to a January 2020 FAS Senate meeting in which Strobel acknowledged that the FAS had not grown at the rate of Yale’s peer institutions. At the time, he promised to deliver strategic responses.
New faculty searches were soon halted in a hiring freeze, however, due to the University’s pandemic austerity measures. The move sparked backlash among faculty, who signed onto a letter urging continued hiring. Ultimately, the University thawed the hiring freeze, bringing on a slightly smaller-than-average class of new FAS faculty. But by then, several departments had missed out on candidates they had pursued.
At a March 2021 Senate meeting, Strobel once again committed to growing faculty ranks. The Provost could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
According to the FAS office’s internal counts, the FAS currently includes 676 tenured or tenure track faculty, up from around 640 in 1985 after dipping below 600 in the 1990s. The figure reached a high of 696 in 2010 and has hovered between 650 and 690 in the last decade. The FAS has never reached 700, the goal that Yale revised down from 800 during the 2008 financial crisis, Geanakoplos said.
Meanwhile, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences, which for many years was comparable to Yale’s, has jumped to 738 in the last two decades. Princeton currently has more than 800 tenured or tenure track faculty.
The Computer Science department, which has swelled in recent years to 25 tenured or tenure track faculty, will conduct around three searches, said Lin Zhong, computer science professor. Still, with more computer science majors than ever and significant non-major interest in department courses, Zhong called for more future hiring. He and others have advocated for prioritizing institutional and infrastructural support to avoid “handicapping” new hires.
Zhong noted that he and another professor had been invited to submit a proposal to the National Science Foundation for a multimillion dollar grant that would have put Yale at the “forefront” of computer science research. Zhong ultimately dropped the project because of a lack of support staff in his department.
“We are still in dire need of more faculty members,” Zhong said. “And Yale has a lot of things to do – not just in hiring faculty but with space, facilities and staff support.”
Beyond Computer Science, a variety of Yale departments across the Sciences, the Social Sciences, the Humanities and the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences will conduct searches.
In the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, one or more searches will be conducted for Applied Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science.
In the Sciences, all three biology departments — Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology; and Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry — will each see one or more searches. The Astronomy, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Chemistry, Math and Physics Departments will also see new hiring.
In the Social Sciences, hiring is concentrated in Statistics & Data Science, which was reorganized in 2017. Several searches will occur within the statistics department, and four searches will be conducted for joint appointments between the statistics department and other social science departments. Linguistics, Political Science and Sociology will also see one or more searches, while several are conducted in Psychology for specialists in clinical psychology, social psychology and neuroscience.
Among the humanities departments, African American Studies, American Studies, East Asian Languages and Literature, Film and Media Studies, French, German, History of Art, Italian, Music, Religious Studies, Slavic and Spanish and Portuguese will all see at least one search. Ethnicity, Race, and Migration will see two searches for specialists in Latinx and Indigenous studies. The English Department will also see two searches for scholars of early modern drama as well as history of the English language, rhetoric and writing. History, the largest humanities major and department, will see several searches for specialists in Qing history, Southeast Asian history, early modern European history and modern Middle Eastern history.
The next FAS Senate meeting will take place on Thursday.
Correction, Oct. 27: This story has been corrected to reflect new data released by the FAS Office. The article previously said that the FAS reached a peak in 2020, when in fact it did so in 2010.