With the first wave of a five-year hiring surge underway, Binghamton University added a slew of new full-time faculty over the summer.
Along with the 2,000-student enrollment increase planned for the next five years, BU intends to add around 150 new full-time faculty, according to University President Harvey Stenger.
“We have 600 full-time faculty and we’re trying to grow up to 750 full-time faculty,” Stenger said.
Donald Nieman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the University is trying to decrease the faculty-student ratio from 21:1 to 19:1.
“Our goal is to increase the net tenure-track faculty number,” Nieman said. “This school year, we hired 46 new tenure-track faculty, which is a gain of 34 more than were hired for the 2011-12 school year.”
The University also hired 10 visiting assistant professors and lecturers, according to Nieman.
With the recent approval of a $70 million Smart Energy Research and Development Facility as part of BU’s SUNY 2020 plan, many of the new faculty will be dedicated to energy development. However, Nieman assured the hires span many departments.
“I think a lot of people think we’re just hiring in science, but we actually hired very broadly,” Nieman said. “We did a lot of hiring in the humanities department, in the social sciences, and in the professional schools. Also, in music, theater, cinema, history, English, sociology, management and human development.”
He added that the addition of faculty will benefit the current faculty as well as the students.
“Faculty members within the departments bring in colleagues who have new ideas,” Nieman said. “That makes departmental life much more exciting. It’s invigorating for faculty members. In many departments when you have small faculties, all that work gets dumped on a few people.”
Lois Einhorn, a tenured English and rhetoric professor in her 34th year at BU, said that many of her colleagues who retired were not replaced, resulting in a larger workload for the rest of the department.
“I think we’ve needed to grow,” Einhorn said. “Hopefully with hiring new professors, we will make our classes more diverse.”
The majority of new faculty will be on track for tenure, although in particular cases the University will hire full-time, non-tenure-track faculty, according to Stenger.
“A tenure-track faculty member is expected to conduct original research as well as teach, whereas a non-tenure-track faculty member is expected to only teach — and thus will have a higher teaching load,” Stenger said. “Both are important for us to grow, but tenure-track faculty will be more important to our future as we strive to the premier public university.”
Nieman added that only tenure-track faculty can supervise graduate students.
“Of course, graduate education is a very important part of our mission,” he said.
President Stenger said that in the future he hopes to continue to reduce the faculty-student ratio by increasing the number of endowed professors, whose salaries are paid by alumni professors.
“That’s one area that we don’t really see that much of right now,” Stenger said. “Private universities and very large public universities can have dozens and dozens of faculty that are paid for by endowments. This is the beginning of a path, not the end of it.”