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New Faculty Hiring Initiative: Addressing Evolving Student and Community Needs

New Faculty Hiring Initiative: Addressing Evolving Student and Community Needs

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I am writing to explain how our extensive campus strategic planning and internal reallocations will collectively result in positioning our campus for greater excellence.  As part of this comprehensive planning effort, I am pleased to announce that pending further consultation with division chairs and faculty, I will soon be issuing a call for new academic program proposals.  Each academic division is expected to benefit from at least one new program with corresponding allocation of faculty.  The new program proposals can include full majors, minors, or certificates as well as interdisciplinary offerings.  When implemented, these new programs will make prudent use of the reallocated tenure-stream and non-tenure stream faculty positions reserved at this time. Further, these new program proposals should be responsive to the evolving student and community needs consistent with UPJ’s mission.

Even before my arrival on campus, I received many requests to fill vacant positions immediately.  Rather than proceed on an ad hoc basis, I determined that a comprehensive program review of all our curricular offerings was necessary, timely and appropriate. Consistent with the University’s policy and expectation of focused internal reallocation to optimize use of available but limited resources, we have just completed a thorough review of all programs examining features such as enrollments, graduates, outcomes and student needs. To enhance our process, we have pursued an approach that incorporated the assessment of pertinent data.

In the past several months all academic divisions undertook detailed program reviews and assessments, looking at faculty resources, enrollments, numbers of graduates, and other relevant factors. The reports from these reviews were provided to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and to me.  Subsequently, the Vice President for Academic Affairs coordinated a thorough review with the Academic Council (which includes all division chairs) of the divisions’ needs and assessments. A cumulative set of recommendations was forwarded to me on January 15.

After my assessment of the program reviews as well as the Academic Council recommendations, I reached several decisions regarding a set of proposed faculty hiring requests. In most of these cases, we are now moving to permanently fill positions that were managed through a series of temporary means during the presidential transition year. I am pleased to say that I was able to respond affirmatively to all requests listed as “priority fills” albeit with modifications in two instances.  These priority positions were identified as needed to ensure accreditation, add stability to programs, or address replacements that were of some interest. Meanwhile, the reallocations were focused on positions that the Council described, inter alia, as ones that could be held for a short time, ones that impacted a major, or could be assigned to another position.  Other reallocations were assigned to positions designated as desirable for programs that needed additional faculty.

In reaching these decisions, I supported reallocation of more faculty positions to certain areas of greatest need and student demand (e.g. Business, Engineering Technology).  In particular, I sought to ensure that more students in rapidly growing majors benefitted from better faculty student ratios. For example, there will be three new faculty hires in Business to more appropriately address the dramatic enrollment growth in that area. Furthermore, I determined that there was no need to eliminate any of our current programs.  In effect, while we sought to right-size resources in various programs relative to enrollment, we see no need to pursue any program elimination. On the recommendation of the Academic Council, it was deemed necessary to cease advertising our economics major until further realignment, including the possibility of a new interdisciplinary offering.

To accomplish our goals and stay within the faculty complement allocated to UPJ, several tenure positions were allocated to non-tenure stream and/or visiting positions, thereby creating a degree of needed flexibility as we consider new programs in our strategic planning process going forward. Parenthetically I might add here that with regard to the matter of non-tenure stream and/or visiting positions, it is important to note that UPJ has an outstanding track record of employing non-tenure stream and/or visiting  faculty who are extremely well-respected by their students and their colleagues, and who have made great contributions to the University.

In the main, we intend to address the urgency of immediate needs while emphasizing the opportunity to apply a broad institutional view, including the following points:

  • We are taking into account the evolving enrollment trends among undergraduate students regarding interest in particular fields and majors.
  • Throughout, we want to focus on assuring that UPJ academic programs remain distinctive.
  • We are thinking in terms of maintaining flexibility as we address pressing academic needs.
  • We are mindful of the potential needs and priorities that will be identified in our yet to be completed comprehensive strategic review process, particularly the foreseeable demand for new programs. 
  • In light of anticipated retirements in the next few years, we are adopting a multi-year perspective.

Finally, as stated earlier, we are reserving several as yet unallocated tenure stream/non-tenure stream slots for the possibility of new academic programs, certificates and/or innovative interdisciplinary offerings etc.  As I develop this call for new program proposals, I will work with the Academic Council to refine appropriate guidelines for this request.  Furthermore, as more vacancies occur, we intend to continue to lead a process of thoughtful and appropriate reallocation to address pressing student needs, increase academic quality, optimize use of available/limited resources and provide the University with a needed measure of flexibility in planning and responding to our changing environment and the needs of our community.

Thank you all for your understanding, patience, and goodwill as we proceed with our comprehensive strategic review process.  In particular, I also want to thank the Academic Council for their diligence and thoroughness throughout this process.


Jem Spectar

Posted by Knipple, Robert on 1/31/2008 10:30:00 PM