Deans bring faculty-retention issue to Board of Regents

The University faces increasing challenges to retain faculty competitively.

Anna Weggel

Throughout the years, the University has struggled to recruit and retain quality faculty.

Three University deans are presenting their concerns about this issue to the Board of Regents at its monthly meeting today.

College of Human Ecology Dean Shirley Baugher, College of Biological Sciences Dean Bob Elde and School of Dentistry Dean Patrick Lloyd will discuss some of the challenges that go along with recruiting and retaining faculty members in each college.

They will speak about issues such as the number of faculty members they normally recruit in a year, which colleges are the University’s biggest recruiting competitors and strategies to keep faculty members in the colleges once they receive positions.

Carol Carrier, vice president for the Office of Human Resources, said that recruiting faculty members is getting more competitive each year.

“We have lots of prized universities who are in the market for the same people,” she said.

Carrier said private schools are sometimes able to offer better packages than what public universities can offer.

“The competition for good people is really pretty intense,” she said. “It’s always a challenge but maybe even more so now.”

The University has been making special efforts to appeal to these sought-out candidates, she said.

One program, called “spousal partner hiring,” allows for hiring a University employee’s spouse or partner who is also in the field of academics without a search, assuming they have the right qualifications, she said.

Carrier said the University also might be putting more

research into the search for candidates and might form single-search committees to hire multiple positions.

But the final decision on hiring practices for each college goes to the deans.

Baugher said a major barrier for the College of Human Ecology is faculty salaries.

“The University of Minnesota is largely more and more behind in faculty salaries and really lagging behind each year,” she said.

Baugher said she believes this is causing the college to lose ground on getting desirable candidates.

“As you enter into a more and more competitive marketplace with many different types of faculty, you’ve got to be competitive with salary,” she said.

Baugher said the best way to retain faculty members is to have resources to support their work and provide a quality environment.

She said it is important for faculty members to feel like they are engaged and surrounded with valuable peers and students who ask similar types of questions.

Some of the issues faculty members deal with are workplace-related, such as having available child care, she said.

“It’s hard to give an answer, because we’re all so diverse in our needs,” Baugher said.

She said that in the family social science department, college officials started hiring people years in advance to replace faculty members who are thinking about leaving.

Then, by the time staff

members retire, there are new people on board. Baugher said it makes retention less of an issue because senior faculty members are mentoring the new employees in their field.

E. Thomas Sullivan, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, said many leading universities are trying to recruit a good number of faculty members from the University, more so this year than in the past.

“I think they believe they’re stars, and they want them on their faculty,” he said.

Sullivan said the University has announced a salary increase of 4 percent, which will go into effect July 1 with the new budget.

He said the University is also trying to get a special recruitment and retention package as part of its two-year budget request.

“It’s really very much a top priority for us to be able to invest in our human capital, our faculty, our staff and our (graduate) students,” he said.