MU hiring freeze creates faculty vacancies

Friday, January 23, 2009 | 2:14 p.m. CST; updated 4:32 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 24, 2009

COLUMBIA – An estimated 117 current and expected faculty vacancies have been reported to date for the campus, MU Faculty Council members were told last week. That represents about 2.8 percent of the full- and part-time faculty at MU.

Under the current hiring freeze, the positions cannot be filled unless they satisfy written criteria for exceptions.

Deputy Provost Ken Dean provided the snapshot of anticipated openings for both tenure and non-tenure positions at the Thursday meeting. The report did not include vacancies from the School of Medicine or the extension program.

“The environment that we live in, as you all have noticed a lot lately, changes on a sometimes, feels like an hourly basis, but it’s certainly daily, weekly and monthly on what our planning is,” Dean said.

Of the 117 vacancies, Dean said the chancellor had approved 31 requests for exceptions based on the guidelines created; five were pending before the chancellor.

He said the figures were approximate because there is no central way to track vacancies. The numbers were gathered by collecting requests from individual deans of MU schools and colleges.

The number of vacancies in each college is dependent on funds available to the deans, and it is ultimately their decision whether to fill a vacancy or not, he said.

“When the freeze was announced, it became difficult,” Dean said. “There isn’t a place where all of the vacancies are kept track of. What you can keep track of is how many requests you get."

In light of the situation, the search for a new dean for the College of Education has been canceled for the present, he said. Interim Dean Rose Porter agreed to remain in the position for another year.

“I fully expect that search to begin again next year,” Dean said.

Some council members raised concerns about the process in which deans rank the vacant positions they feel are most important when asking for exceptions to the hiring freeze. They suggested an appeals process to administrative officials might be a good idea, but other members disagreed.

“I don’t want the provost deciding for each of the colleges,” Faculty Council Chairman Tom Phillips said, referring to the priorities for hires in each department.

Other members of the council were concerned about the effect the freeze would have on the university’s commitment to diversity.

“Clearly we have a commitment to making this a more diverse student body and a more diverse faculty,” Dean said.


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