Faculty freeze halts potential hires
The university is about to see some new faces on campus. In the coming year, 18 to 20 new faculty members are slated to be hired. This number has dropped from last year’s 31 new hires.
In 2017, President of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) Mark E. Ojakian, continued his state-wide hiring freeze that continues
to affect the 17 public institutions in the CSCU system.
During the spring semester, faculty members were forced hires to take furlough days or a mandatory leave of absence without pay.
The furlough day was imposed as a compromise between the CSCU system and state Governor Dannel Malloy, who has proposed to cut 4.4 percent in funding to the 2018 budget which will more than likely lead to layoffs of faculty members, according to a 2017 CSCU statement on Malloy’s proposed 2018 budget.
“We need to rethink and be more strategic about how we’re spending our dollars,” said President Joe Bertolino.
Bertolino said the university has the same amount of full-time faculty as they did a decade ago but with 20 percent less student enrollment.
Bertolino said they have to outline to the CSCU system and then state a “justification” on why the university needs certain positions; as well as present a means to finance the new hire.
“We all think that we have great needs, but we all have to live within our means,” said Bruce Kalk, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Both he and Bertolino said the determination of new hires is based on “demand.” Bertolino said demand is not equal to what majors are most popular, but the number of students taking courses in that department.
He said courses students are required to take for LEP requirements usually take the first precedent.
Bertolino said members of each department submit rationales to their respective deans, who then evaluate the merits of that request. The provost and chief financial officer make the final decision.
Kalk said last year his department conducted 13 international searches for new hires and 12 of the positions were filled. He said the searches for new hires are conducted in the summer for the following year’s fall term.
Kalk said many factors determine what faculty are planned to be hired, such as if there is a program they want to “highlight and grow,” enrollment trends, personnel changes in the last three-to-four years, or state jobs in “high demand.”
“Regardless of enrollment, we want to bring somebody aboard who can energize students and draw them in,” said Kalk.
Kaitlyn Johnson, a sophomore, psychology major said she is not surprised by the drop
in faculty hires because of university and state budget cuts, but her biggest worry is the retirement and resignation of current employees.
“Having more people come in when there’s already, like, a significant amount of people working, isn’t a big deal,” said Johnson, “unless there’s people that are leaving and there’s not a lot of people trying to come into this school.”
Bertolino said there is currently 80 administrative vacancies.
“If they’re providing additional student services,” said Kalk, “I think it’s hard to argue against bringing people aboard who are making providing additional services to students.”
Photo Credit: Tamonda Griffiths