Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
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Temple welcomes another boom crop
of faculty recruits

Megan Mullin (left) and Christopher Wlezien (center), two of five new tenured or tenure-track faculty members in the department of political science, meet Senior Vice President Clarence Armbrister at Monday’s new faculty dinner in Mitten Hall.

The next wave has arrived.

For the second academic year in a row, Temple is welcoming more than 50 new tenured and tenure-track faculty members to campus.

The latest crop of faculty hires is part of an unprecedented surge in Temple’s recruitment of prominent faculty members. And with 86 faculty searches still active, the flood of new arrivals isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. By the fall of 2006, Temple will have hired approximately 150 new tenured or tenure-track faculty members over a two-year period — an astonishing development at a time when many universities are experiencing reduced funding and staff cutbacks.

“Of all the great things happening at Temple, one of the most important is the recruitment of first-rate faculty,” said President David Adamany, who welcomed the new arrivals at a dinner in their honor on Monday. “An institution is only as good as its faculty, and because many of Temple’s excellent and devoted faculty members are beginning to retire, we must replace them with scholars and teachers who will continue our push for higher academic standards. Our students deserve the best, and that’s what our aggressive faculty hiring is bringing to Temple.”
Provost Ira Schwartz agreed. He called Temple’s hiring boom a “cultural revolution.”

“There’s a lot of gloom and doom in the world of higher education these days,” Schwartz said. “But not at Temple.”

“Quality, not quantity”

Although the number of new hires is impressive, Schwartz stressed that Temple’s faculty hiring boom is “a quest for quality, not quantity.”

Indeed, Temple’s newest faculty members are top scholars and teachers hired from the world’s leading institutions. Political scientist Christopher Wlezien, who uses quantitative methods to study the operation of modern democracies, came to Temple from Oxford University in England. Bradley Collins, an expert on smoking cessation, is bringing millions of dollars in federal grants to the College of Health Professions from the University of Pennsylvania. Priya Joshi, an award-winning author and expert on Indian novels and films, joined the English department from the University of California–Berkeley. Other new faculty members came from Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, Notre Dame, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin–Madison (which has lost six faculty members to Temple in a year and a half) and elsewhere.

Why they’re coming

Why are established scholars leaving comfortable positions at respected institutions to come to Temple?

Medieval historian Kathleen Biddick, who had been a tenured professor at Notre Dame for eight years, was taken by the vitality and demographics of Temple, particularly the student body. “I think Temple is fabulously positioned to be the university of the 21st century because of its diversity and its energy,” she said. “I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but I love my students: They’re hungry, hungry, hungry.”

Rajiv Banker, a renowned expert in accounting and information technology at The Fox School of Business and Management, wanted to join a school that was on the ascent. “I was attracted by the rapid rise in stature of The Fox School,” said Banker, who has held chaired professorships at the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas at Dallas. “I look forward to helping the school achieve yet greater prominence.”

For Deborah B. Nelson, an expert on women’s health and reproductive epidemiology who has joined the College of Health Professions from the University of Pennsylvania, the attraction was institutional support for her research. “Temple is offering me a rare opportunity to aggressively pursue my research goals,” she said. “I know I have the help and full support of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the college and the University at large.”

Some new recruits are the result of chain reactions sparked by last year’s recruiting efforts.

Many 2004–05 hires have attracted associates and collaborators, each adding their labs, research grants, teaching experience, bibliographies and unique areas of scholarly expertise to Temple’s growing portfolio. For example, pharmacogenomics experts Evgeny Krynetskiy (formerly lab director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.) and Swati Nagar (formerly a postdoc at Fox Chase Cancer Center) were attracted to Temple’s School of Pharmacy in part because of the presence of renowned pharmacokineticist James Gallo, who came to the school last fall.

Unlike last year’s class, which was dominated by senior faculty hires, this year’s class is made up primarily of tenure-track assistant professors.

“Last year we laid the groundwork by hiring a lot of full professors,” Schwartz said. “This year we’re adding more junior faculty. It’s important to replenish the ranks of younger faculty members. We’re thinking about the future and seeking balance.”

Already showing results

The steady arrival of new faculty recruits is already beginning to change academic life at the University, particularly in departments with several new hires. Richard Immerman, professor and chair of history in the College of Liberal Arts, has welcomed 12 new presidential faculty appointments since last fall, more than any other department at Temple.

“The new faculty members have completely transformed the way we do business and serve our students,” Immerman said. “For example, we’ve been able to overhaul our undergraduate curriculum and offer history majors new introductory courses and concentrations.

“Our new hires have put us in a different competitive set,” he said. “For example, we’ve noticed that the number and quality of applicants to our graduate program rose in a very short time. Grad students pay attention to faculty. These days, academic advisers at other universities who counsel students on where to go to graduate school would put Temple at the top of their lists.”

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann