Strategic Planning Committee focuses on faculty hiring

Protestors silently join Board meeting

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The Special Committee on Strategic Planning met with the full Board of Visitors Friday to discuss the aging population of University faculty and the need to adopt a new hiring plan.

In her opening remarks, University President Teresa Sullivan said that in addition to the impending retirements, strong faculty recruitment was necessary to keep pace with a growing student body.

The Special Committee on Strategic Planning met with the full Board of Visitors Friday to discuss the upcoming generational shift among the University’s faculty and the need to adopt a new hiring plan to focus efforts on new faculty hires.

“The generational turnover of faculty needs to be addressed,” Sullivan said. “[T]he Board has decided to increase the student body and we need to have additional faculty to teach additional students.”

Batten Dean Harry Harding and Education Dean Robert Pianta both reported on their schools’ need for faculty recruitment in their respective fields.

The Education School is not just concerned with having to replace older faculty at some future date, but is confronting fiscal constraints that have made necessary hiring difficult in the past several years, Pianta said.

“We have not been able to hire a lot of faculty over the last couple of years, but when we have hired we have hired very strategically,” Pianta said.

Harding said the University is able to attract faculty because of its “power of place,” referring to the inherent attraction of Charlottesville. This draw, however, does not overcome the need for competitive salaries, he said.

“[Our location] may in some ways be marginally helpful to us but we need to pay market salaries,” Harding said.

He also said that the University’s start-up packages, which are starting bonuses and research grants typically offered to new hires, are lacking compared to peer institutions.

The Board then questioned Pat Hogan, the executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Leonard Sandridge, a special advisor to Sullivan, about the demographics of new faculty and the costs associated with hiring younger versus older and more established professors.

Both stressed the importance of a balanced hiring plan. “You have to be sure that there is enough mentoring and leadership,” Sandridge said.

The Board’s Finance Committee is still working out the financial specifics of the hiring plan, Hogan and Sandridge said.

Board member Helen Dragas advocated waiting to vote on any hiring initiative until the finances were complete.

“This [discussion on faculty hiring] really doesn’t require us to act,” Dragas said. ‘What will require us to act is the new resources for it. We’re only a short matter of months away from being able to do that.”

During the meeting, about 20 members of a silent protest against changes to AccessUVa, the University’s financial aid program, entered and sat in public seating. Their mouths were covered with black tape that said “Access Denied.” Each protester wore a sign around his or her neck which began “Access means…” followed by a personal definition. Examples included “Access means equal opportunity” and “Access means a chance for higher education.”

Dragas, who was speaking at the time, did not acknowledge their entrance, nor did any other Board member.

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