VCU hires new faculty despite budget cuts

No, it’s not your imagination. VCU hired more than 60 new faculty members for this academic year, while it lost $77 million in state support because of the state’s budget crisis.

So during such a budget crisis, how could VCU afford to hire new faculty members?

Stephen D. Gottfredson, dean of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, said the tuition hike approved by VCU’s Board of Visitors in November 2002 helped improve this situation. The board approved a tuition increase of $300 for in-state and out-of-state undergraduate students for the spring semester.

“That (tuition increase) helped to offset some of the budget reductions, and the bulk of that money went to the college since the college provides the bulk of the instruction at the university,” he said. “And that’s why we were, in fact, able to hire additional faculty.”

On the other hand, Michael Davis, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Education, also said the hiring freeze became a way for the university to review its actual needs and positions.

“Obviously with an institution our size — with all of the departments and the schools and the clinics — at any one time there would be a lot of positions open,” he said. “When you don’t know the extent of the budget cuts, I’m sure President Trani was concerned with knowing exactly where we stood in terms of staffing the university and also that the positions that we’re hiring for were critical to the university.”

Humanities and sciences

According to a report provided by Amy Unger, assistant to the dean of humanities and sciences, the college hired more than 30 full-time faculty members, although some of these were hired for one semester or one year. In the college, biology obtained four collateral-track faculty members and chemistry hired two collateral and one tenure track. Criminal justice received two new faculty members in the collateral track.

The English department obtained five collateral and one tenured faculty, and forensic science added one in the collateral track and history hired two in the collateral track. Mass communications hired two collateral and two tenure-eligible faculty members, while three collateral and one tenure-track faculty joined the mathematics department.

The philosophy, physics and political science departments each obtained one collateral faculty member. Psychology hired three collateral faculty, and religious studies received one also in the collateral track.

Education

Therese Kohl, an administrative assistant in the office of the dean of the School of Education, reported that the school hired five faculty members. Educational studies received two tenure-eligible faculty and teacher education received one in its collateral track and one in its tenure track. Physical education and recreation also received one collateral faculty member.

Business

E.G. Miller, senior associate dean in the School of Business, said his school hired two faculty members in its tenure track with one joining the information systems faculty and one in the accounting department.

Engineering

The School of Engineering hired three new tenure-track faculty members, according to a report provided by Donna Thornburg, an administrative assistant in the dean’s office. Two teachers are mechanical engineers and one is a biomedical engineer.

Others

Terry Anderson, director of development for the School of Social Work, said her school did not hire any instructional faculty this academic year, and administrators within the School of the Arts failed to respond to requests for information.

When the university hires full-time faculty members, it places them into one of three tracks: adjunct, collateral or tenure. Adjunct faculty members are usually part-time teachers whose sole responsibility is classroom instruction. They teach on a course-by-course basis, Gottfredson said, meaning they receive a separate contract for each semester they teach.

In contrast, collateral faculty members are full-time faculty whose contracts can be for a year or more. Their responsibilities include teaching, advising and other assignments determined by the unit’s leadership. But tenure-track faculty members’ responsibilities go beyond teaching and advising because they must be actively involved in teaching, research and service.

When adjunct contracts were not renewed after the last state budget cut, Gottfredson said some personnel changes in courseloads were made.

“We rearranged classes and class sizes… and the faculty picked up additional sections that were taught by part-time faculty,” he said, noting that the tuition increase provided some funds for hiring additional instructors.

“We (in the College of Humanities and Sciences) hired about an additional eight to 10 full-time collateral faculty,” the dean said, adding that the college then could reinstate its 115 to 120 previously eliminated course sections taught by part-time faculty.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply