CLA students,

Ken Eisinger

In its largest annual hire in more than a decade, the College of Liberal Arts will bring 33 professors to campus this fall.
The hire is the result of a flourishing University economy, and the new arrivals will primarily replace departing or retiring faculty.
CLA Dean Steven Rosenstone is enthusiastic about his new recruits, stating that most of the hires were the college’s first or second choice.
“I’ve looked through the letters of recommendation and the (curriculum) vitaes of every person that has been hired and they are spectacular; they are fabulous,” Rosenstone said.
Associate Dean of Faculty for CLA Michael Hancher said he conducted 131 informational interviews this year with prospective professors. The final decision about hiring fell to the departments, he said.
The college’s hiring equalled a total slightly greater than last year’s hire of 29.
“Two years of pretty strong hiring makes for a good community,” Hancher said.
The deans were quick to point out, however, that the overall size of the faculty will not increase by 33. Rather, the incoming instructors will boost CLA’s ranks by five-to-10. The majority of the professors are slated to replace departing or retiring faculty members.
Both deans smiled as they asserted that students and faculty will immediately feel the impact of the new hires.
Rosenstone stressed the diversity of the incoming class. Of the 33, 18 are women and eight are people of color.
“This is not some hypothetical change in personnel,” Rosenstone said. “These people will be in the trenches teaching undergraduates in the fall.”
Renee Richie, president of the CLA student board, said she hopes the increase in professors will translate into more individual attention for students.
“Students will be able to ask more questions,” she said. “Professors will be more available to students.”
College administrators are pleased with the consecutive hires because budget cuts in past years prohibited college administrators from replacing departing or retiring professors.
In the 1995-96 school year, the college hired five new professors, some of which replaced departing professors.
Over the last decade, lack of legislative support forced central administration to cut a fraction of each college’s annual budget. The only way the college could pay the bill was to not replace faculty, Rosenstone said.
Between 1980 and 1996, the number of professors in the college plummeted from 592 to 482. Thirty of the positions evaporated between 1991 and 1996.
But hires during the last two years have stabilized the number of faculty.
Robert Bruininks, executive vice president and provost, said central administration will not reduce any college’s budget this year. Bruininks cited increases in tuition revenue and legislative appropriations as reasons the University’s budget is “stronger than it’s been in years.”
Department heads are elated to see their faculty revitalized by the new hires.
Shirley Nelson Garner, chairwoman of the English department, recalls that between 1991 and 1996 her department’s budget shrunk by close to half a million dollars.
“We began to feel like we were becoming a virtual department,” she said.
This year the department hired five professors from a pool of 1,324 applicants. Three of the hires are replacing departing or retiring faculty.
Nelson Garner said that after such a competitive search, she is extremely pleased with the new professors.
Richard Leppert, chairman of cultural studies and comparative literature, said understaffing in his department began changing two years ago when interim Dean Robert Holt and Rosenstone authorized five new hires.
For Leppert, budget cuts are a fading memory.
“We have successfully rebuilt our faculty,” Leppert said. “We’re attracting ever more undergraduate students to our curriculum.”
Patricia McBride, a graduate student at Indiana University, will begin her first full-time teaching position in the German department this fall.
She said she was attracted to the campus by its urban feel and diverse and vibrant student population. With most of her time taken up with research these days, McBride is eager to resume a balance between research and teaching.
“I really think this is a public service, and I am honored to have a position at a public institution,” she said.