Boom crop of new faculty hires arrives
President David Adamany shares a laugh with new philosophy professor Lewis Gordon at the orientation for new faculty on Aug. 25.
New students and their parents aren’t the only people asking for directions on campus this week.
Last week, Temple officially welcomed the largest group of new tenured and tenure-track faculty members in recent history at the New Presidential Faculty Orientation, an event co-sponsored by outgoing Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Linda M. Mauro and the new director of the Teaching and Learning Center, Angela Linse.
“We’re in a moment of enormous change,” President David Adamany said in his welcome to new faculty members in Shusterman Hall. “You’ll be participants in the transformation of the University.”
More than 50 new presidential-appointment faculty members have been hired so far in 2004 — a stunning development in a time of funding cutbacks and reductions in faculty staffing nationwide. The sudden influx of new recruits obliged Mauro to change the venue for this year’s orientation; with almost twice as many new bodies, last year’s room wasn’t big enough.
The faculty recruitment drive isn’t over, said Adamany, who added that Temple expects to hire more than 100 additional faculty members in the next academic year.
“Temple is entering a cultural revolution,” Provost Ira Schwartz told the recent arrivals. “There’s a lot of gloom and doom in the world of higher education these days, but not at Temple. We’re in hiring mode.”
Faculty members attending the orientation were hired away from leading universities and research centers including Princeton University, Brown University, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the University of Maryland, Wellesley College and the Cleveland Clinic. Nearly every college at Temple has been joined by at least one new presidential faculty recruit this semester.
Those who came to the orientation got a daylong crash course in faculty life at Temple, from tips on managing the research grant application process (courtesy Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies Kenneth Soprano) to an introduction to the demographics of Temple’s student body (from Sally Frazee of the Measurement & Assessment Resource Center).
The new faculty members also heard Schwartz’s sobering assessment of challenges facing the Temple faculty.
“The six-year graduation rate of Temple students is approaching 55 percent, and nearly 75 percent of Temple students receive A’s and B’s every semester,” Schwartz said. “Yet data suggest that our students aren’t as competitive as we’d like on standardized tests such as the GRE, MCAT and LSAT.”
After the Provost’s presentation, new faculty members asked how Temple can be in a hiring boom while the rest of the academic world’s gone bust. One major factor: revenues from surging enrollment — up 28 percent from 1998 to 2003. Schwartz also credited the energy of new deans, eight of whom were hired in the last three years (seven from outside Temple). Faculty hiring in some colleges had been frozen in recent years while the search for deans was completed. In addition, many faculty vacancies have been the product of attrition. According to Schwartz, a significant percentage of the Temple faculty were hired in the 1960s and ’70s, a group that has begun to enter retirement age.
But that doesn’t explain why established teachers and researchers would leave comfortable positions at respected institutions to come to Philadelphia.
“Sometimes I look around and think ‘Are you crazy?’ I’ve gone from living in a huge home in a nice college town to a two-bedroom apartment in Old City,” says the journalism department’s new chair, Bonnie Brennen, who left the University of Missouri, one of the nation’s top journalism schools. “But I chose to do this partly because of the urban setting. Philadelphia is the number-four media market. It’s hard to teach students in a small college town about urban issues or politics.”
Temple’s diverse student body is also a big draw.
“I consider Temple to be an excellent institution through which to develop a viable response to the catastrophic decline in the number of racial minorities pursuing graduate degrees,” says professor of philosophy Lewis Gordon, who’s just moving in after being lured from Brown’s department of Africana studies.
“I don’t see how I could respond to such a problem by remaining in institutions that, by their very nature, limit my access to many such students and their access to me,” he adds.
Other new faculty members are attracted by the challenge of elevating programs that had entered periods of decline.
“When I was last in Philadelphia in the 1970s, Temple was one of the top 50 medical schools in the country,” says Joel Richter, recently arrived professor and chair of the department of medicine. “We are returning to the glory years. It’s an unbelievable opportunity to build.”
To help you get to know Temple’s new members of the faculty, the Temple Times has begun a series of short biographical profiles starting in this issue.
-By Hillel J. Hoffmann
|Facts about Temple's
faculty hiring push:
• Department with most new
hires: History, with eight new tenured and tenure-track faculty
members (and more to come)
• Number of husband-andwife
couples hired: Four
• Temple’s financial commitment
to support research initiatives
of new faculty: $2.5 million
• Universities most grumpy
about the new hires: the University
of Wisconsin–Madison, which lost four faculty members
to Temple, followed by the
University of Maryland and the
University of Pittsburgh, which
each lost three
Unprecedented faculty recruitment drive
at Medical School reflects stability, spirit (9/2/04)