Jane Huh, faculty association challenges strategic hiring plan

By Gus Bode

Wendler says he will stick with the plan

Just two weeks after announcing the strategic hiring plan announcement, the SIUC administration is already being questioned by some faculty members on how next fall’s 28 new hires will improve the University.

The strategic hiring plan relies on the $2 million generated from next year’s tuition revenues to hire 12 senior faculty and 16 tenure-track assistant professors to strengthen nationally recognized programs, and in turn reap more external funding for SIUC.


Kyle Perkins, interim Provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and John Koropchak, vice chancellor for Research, have both stated that the new hires will improve the overall profile of the University even though all departments did not receive new hires.

“The strategic faculty hiring initiative is in part to address the loss of lines that we’ve seen in a number of years,” he said. “We do hope that this is just a first of a multi-year phase.”

However, Faculty Association president Morteza Daneshdoost said about 55 faculty members left the University last year due to retirement or resignations. The new hires will still fall 27 lines short and not make much of a difference. There are 16 faculty vacancies.

“If we have the same pattern for attrition, we’ll have another approximately 55 empty positions next fall,” Daneshdoost said. “Assuming that 28 new hires and another 27 not filled, I wonder how you can improve the student-faculty ratio.”

Chancellor Walter Wendler said the University lost about $12 million because of the current budget crisis. During the summer, Wendler said that instead of opting for layoffs, the University would not refill vacant positions.

“The 28 are to fill some of those vacant positions,” he said. “There’s not enough money to fill all the vacancies.”

Walter Wallis, a professor of mathematics, arrived at SIUC in 1985. He said that hiring the 28 faculty lines is a good initiative by itself, but like Daneshdoost, Wallis believes filling the vacancies should be the first priority.


“It’s a good idea, provided that they keep up the rest of the faculty,” Wallis said. “[The plan is based] not on the need for teaching positions but on this idea of strengthening the better departments.”

Daneshdoost said the allotted $2 million is not enough to hire and retain new hires at the average national salaries.

“We are concerned that this is not the way to improve the situation at SIUC and get us to the top 75 as indicated in the Southern at 150 document,” he said.

But besides the $2 million set aside for the new strategic hires, Koropchak said nearly $1.2 million in start-up costs from the Illinois Board of Higher Education will provide an incentive for candidates. Start-up costs are additional funding sources to aid faculty with research projects.

“We’ve gone through the economics of the situation and we believe that we can offer competitive salaries within this $2 million,” Koropchak said. “So, I’m optimistic that we’ll be successful in hiring good quality candidates.”

Reporter Jane Huh can be reached at [email protected]