University to start filling tenure-track positions

By Karsten Burgstahler

SIU human resources will soon be able to tell more than 40 potential tenure-track faculty members they are hired.

During WSIU’s Morning Conversation Tuesday, Chancellor Rita Cheng announced the university has begun the process of hiring employees for newly created, as well as vacated, tenure-track positions.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to reinvest in our faculty positions,” Cheng said. “We’re already making offers. Yesterday I signed off on three faculty hires.”


Cheng said the approved hires are senior faculty and bring experience to the university. The positions to be filled are in what Cheng said are high demand areas, as determined by college leadership.

For the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, that means students will soon have four new professors. Interim Dean Dafna Lemish said of the prioritized positions, one is in the School of Journalism, two are in the Radio, Television, and Digital Media department and one is in Cinema and Photography.

Lemish said each year the college brings positions to the provost and the management committe chooses the most critical to hire. This year, the group decided their highest priority was to hire a new professor to teach advertising and replace two vacated positions, which were held by Professor Emeritus Dennis Lowry and retired Assistant Professor Linda Conway Correll.

The next priority was to hire a new professor of animation for radio-television. The third spot is a vacancy in Cinema-Photography and the fourth is a media management position, vacated by a professor who left after not receiving tenure. Lemish said the college receives permission to replace a position after the previous holder leaves after being denied tenure.

“The idea behind it is that we don’t just give tenure to people who don’t deserve it just because we don’t want to lose the (tenure) line,” Lemish said.

Eileen Waldron, a senior lecturer in Radio-Television, said both positions would be valuable additions to her program.

“There’s already three classes offered, so this is really going to expand that (radio-television animation) specialization, which is really fantastic,” she said. “There’s going to be more students and that’s a very popular area.”


Waldron said the new media management professor would also be a welcome addition. At one time, the college had five professors in media management but as of late there is only one, she said.

Of the four mass communications positions, the college is already in the process of bringing in finalists for two. Lemish said it is important to note each college must find the resources to cover their tenure lines after the university changed its financial model last year. All the budgets for the lines were centralized in the provost’s office, so when the provost approved the position he or she would also give the money for the line.

“What they did now is decentralize the line so that the budget goes back to the colleges,” she said. “So it’s the college’s decision. The provost gives approval but you have to figure out if you have money to pay for the lines.”

Luckily, the college had enough money to cover the lines, she said. And while the college may not be flourishing the way it was five years ago, Lemish said the new hiring shows the university is rebounding.

“We only have 40 or so (tenured) faculty members in the college,” she said. “So to bring four new people, that’s 10 percent. That’s a significant increase in new ideas, new talent, new expertise. It should be exciting.”

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter at @kburgstahler_DE, or by phone at 536-3311 ext. 254.