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Faculty committee to help determine future hiring areas
October 17, 2012Tweet
Binghamton University’s NYSUNY 2020 plan supports faculty hiring in the area of smart energy. Prior to approval of that plan, the University had made a commitment to hire faculty in another area of strength, healthcare. As the University grows over the next four years, where else should hires be made? Recommendations on additional areas in which the University should invest will be the work of a committee of faculty leaders charged by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Nieman to help identify what makes sense for Binghamton.
“This is a major initiative for the campus as we look to support transdisciplinary areas of excellence and increase our research strength and international visibility in the social sciences and humanities,” Nieman said.
The hiring is enabled by NYSUNY 2020 and the resulting increases in enrollment, additional tuition dollars and strategic efforts to increase new sources of revenue. “We will use a significant portion of these resources to hire faculty — 150 net new ladder faculty between 2012 and 2016,” Nieman said.
“These new positions will allow us to lower the student-faculty ratio, add to our research capacity and strengthen our academic programs.”
The investment in new faculty started with the addition of 46 tenure-track faculty for the 2012-13 academic year, and searches for 36 new tenure-track faculty positions have been authorized for 2013-14, in addition to searches to replace faculty who retired or resigned in 2011-12. For academic years 2014-15 through 2016-17, funds will be available to hire an additional 90 new ladder faculty in addition to those hired to replace retirements and resignations.
Hiring on this scale is an opportunity that comes once in a generation and it positions Binghamton to enter the front ranks of American public research universities and achieve its goal of becoming the premier public university of the 21st century, Nieman said. “To make the most of this opportunity, however, we must invest wisely by hiring the very best faculty available; recruiting a mix of junior, mid-career and senior faculty; and making strategic decisions about the areas in which we will hire. The latter is critical,” he said. “If we spread resources thinly across many areas, we will achieve excellence in none.”
Investment in smart energy and healthcare will continue to be a priority and will increase the University’s strength and reputation in the sciences, engineering and nursing. “To become the premier public university of the 21st century, however, we must develop a broader research strategy that draws on and invests in Binghamton’s substantial strength in the social sciences and humanities, as well as professional areas such as management and education,” Nieman said.
The challenge is to identify several broad areas rooted in the social sciences and humanities that address social, economic, cultural and policy issues in which Binghamton can achieve international distinction.
And it’s imperative that faculty are involved in identifying the areas targeted for investment, said Nieman. “They have the necessary scholarly expertise to develop a coherent vision for areas identified and will provide leadership for translating that vision into reality,” he said.
Working with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Nieman has appointed an ad hoc committee to assess the University’s existing strengths and identify two or three broad areas in which Binghamton can gain international recognition if thoughtful investments are made in the next 3-5 years.
Professor of History Howard Brown, chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (FSEC), will chair the committee, which will be comprised of five faculty selected by the FSEC and five by Nieman. They are: Bat Ami Bar-On, professor of philosophy; Laura Bronstein, professor of social work; Dave Clark, associate professor of political science; Shelley Dionne, professor of management; Mohammad Kashawneh, associate professor of systems science and industrial engineering; Joe Keith, associate professor of English; Adam Laats, assistant professor of education; Florence Margai, professor of geography; Tom McDonough, associate professor of art history; and Randy McGuire, distinguished professor of anthropology.
Nieman has asked the committee to consider the following:
• Areas selected should be sufficiently broad to encompass issues of critical importance to scholarship, public policy and/or the community, and raise Binghamton’s stature as a research university.
• Areas should reflect existing programmatic and faculty strengths so that we can leverage existing resources to assure that we can gain international recognition.
• Areas should lend themselves to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to allow us to leverage the strength of multiple schools and departments, tackle truly significant issues and remain at the forefront of scholarly trends.
Other considerations include the need to meet student demand, sustain top-rated programs, strengthen emerging areas of scholarship or programs that are poised to achieve prominence and build excellence in areas in which Binghamton can achieve a level of international prominence.
The committee will solicit ideas and feedback from faculty across the University in the coming weeks, and will complete its work by Dec. 15. Its recommendations will be reviewed by the deans and Nieman, in consultation with President Harvey Stenger. Final decisions on the areas in which the University will invest will be announced by Feb. 15, 2013, Nieman said, to best inform the University’s faculty recruitment plan for 2014-15.
“I am grateful to the faculty who have agreed to serve,” Nieman said. “They have a daunting, if exciting task before them. However, the work they do will help us make wise decisions that will enhance the strength and stature of research at Binghamton University.”