Politics, Media Studies departments to hire faculty, increase capacity

Demand for politics classes increases, number of majors stays steady

nsnauhallnewprofscourtesyuniversityofvirginia

Leblang said the Politics department has made requests to hire faculty in the areas of American politics, political institutions and race and ethnic politics.

Courtesy University of Virginia

With student enrollment for the fall 2016 semester now open in full effect, the Politics and Media Studies departments are looking to hire additional professors to accommodate increasing student demand for and enrollment in classes.

The Politics department’s hiring season takes place in the fall, Department Chair David Leblang said. Hiring requests are generally sent during the year and the summer to the Dean’s Office, which then determines how many hires each department can make.

“The Dean’s Office is committed to helping us replace individuals so we can continue to offer courses not just to our majors but to students who want to take our courses,” Leblang said.

One of the reasons the department is looking to hire new faculty is due to recent retirements and departures.

“We’ve had three faculty retire in the last three years, and these are faculty who for all intents and purposes taught foreign affairs classes, which is the largest major in the College,” Leblang said.

Leblang said the department has made requests to hire faculty in the areas of American politics, political institutions and race and ethnic politics.

Assoc. Dean Leonard Schoppa said the department has brought on three junior tenure-track political scientists since 2014. Politics Profs. Phillip and Rachel Potter joined the University in Sept. 2014 in International Relations and American Politics, respectively, while Politics Prof. Murad Idris, who works on Muslim Political Thought, joined last year.

“This past year, we hired two new colleagues who will be joining us in the fall, who work in the area of comparative politics,” Leblang said.

Anne Meng and Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner will join the Politics department this September. Meng does research with a particular focus on authoritarian regimes in Africa, while Kruks-Wisner focuses on politics in India.

“So the hiring we have done in Politics has mostly brought the department back to the size it was before there was shrinkage during the years of hiring freezes, after the 2008 financial crisis,” Schoppa said in an email statement.

Schoppa also discussed the addition of new professors to the Media Studies department, which he said is a relatively new department that is only a decade old.

“Our hiring in [Media Studies] is motivated by a combination of student enrollment demand and the potential that exists for this department to establish itself as a top program in its field,” Schoppa said.

Despite a lack of a Ph.D. program and a smaller number of faculty compared to other departments, Schoppa said there are senior Media Studies faculty who are major figures in the field in addition to a new group of junior faculty that have been hired over the past few years.

“They have made the case that the department needed faculty in the areas in which we have been hiring,” Schoppa said.

The Media Studies department will add two full-time tenure-track faculty members this coming year. Lana Swartz and Kevin Driscoll were hired last year but spent the current year on post-doctoral research at Microsoft Research in Boston, Schoppa said.

“We are also hoping to confirm the final details of an appointment of a new faculty member who would likely teach two courses next year,” he said.

Increasing enrollment and demand for classes has also prompted the hiring of new faculty.

“In addition to this growth in the tenure-track faculty, we have authorized an increase in non-track lecturer hiring to meet the strong enrollment demand in this department,” Schoppa said.

While the Politics department has around 900 majors — a number which has stayed relatively steady over the past couple of years — Leblang said enrollment and demand for the classes themselves continues to increase.

“Our number of majors has stayed pretty flat for as long as I’ve been here,” he said. “What’s important to note is that [the] Politics [department] doesn’t just serve politics majors. The new Global Studies majors, the Architecture School, the Batten School — they all require courses that are taught in the Politics department.”

Leblang said the department is looking to add more seats for classes in the upcoming academic year to accommodate demand for classes.

“We had a meeting with the Dean’s Office yesterday to figure out how we can add another 360 seats for the upcoming academic year,” Leblang said. “Almost all of our classes are full, or have substantial waiting lists … equal to 100 percent of enrollment.”

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