Binghamton University is looking to hire 30 replacement faculty and 36 new faculty, funded by a $6.5 million SUNY grant.
The grant, which is part of a $53 million SUNY-wide hiring initiative, will be used to establish faculty positions with a heavy focus on research, with the goal of boosting BU’s national research profile, according to University administration. In order to accomplish this, deans from each of BU’s six schools were asked to create proposals for new faculty positions to fill. The deans were also asked to create a list of potential hires in the fields of health and materials sciences. Of the 36 new faculty, 17 of the positions will be filled by faculty already in the field of study.
19 proposals were accepted for the Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, 13 for the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, two for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, one for the School of Management and one for the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
BU President Harvey Stenger commented on how the new faculty positions will allow BU to work toward an increased level of national research recognition.
“I’m thrilled to announce this very ambitious hiring plan, supported by new funding from SUNY,” Stenger said. “The prospect of seeing so many new faculty here next year, independent of student enrollment, is an unparalleled opportunity to see [BU] enter the next level of national research prominence.”
Stenger also explained that, prior to the SUNY grant, BU had to focus on managing its growth in enrollment by hundreds of students per year, as well as the number of faculty hires. Since BU will no longer bear the cost of these new hires, the University has the ability to increase the amount of faculty conducting research on campus without having to worry about managing growing student enrollment, according to Stenger.
Hans Li, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said he felt the increase in faculty positions would benefit BU as a whole, as professors can bring their experience from other schools to their new positions at BU.
“I think having new professors is definitely a good thing because maybe we can get new outlooks on different areas of research,” Li said. “We can see what else is in other schools besides [BU].”
In order to accommodate incoming faculty, the University is considering constructing new buildings on campus. While this process is still in the rendering and concept design phase, it is still a possibility should the faculty hiring process go as planned, according to a statement from Stenger in a BingUNews article. In order for construction to take place, the governor would need to include funding in the state budget for these new spaces on BU’s campus, according to Stenger. It is unknown if the buildings would be dedicated to a specific discipline of study.
BU must also cover benefits for new hires. $3.9 million of the $6.5 million will be used for salaries, with the rest going to benefits for the faculty, according to BingUNews.
Donald Hall, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, expressed confidence that the initiative would benefit the future of the University.
“It is an extraordinary thing for someone to come into a provost position and immediately be offered the opportunity to lead a once-in-a-generation hiring initiative,” Hall said. “This support allows us to dream. The job positions have all been approved and many, if not most, of the search committees are put together. We’re very much in the process now and people are going full steam ahead on the searches.”
Brandon Nicaj, a freshman majoring in biology, said the increase in the number of faculty would lead to more research opportunities for students who are looking to help conduct it.
“That’s a really good opportunity because I know a lot of [students] come to [BU] to do extensive research,” Nicaj said. “Like broaden their horizons on stuff they’re interested in. If they find professors and faculty members that meet their needs, then I think it’s a great opportunity for them to branch out in that field.”