Brown University Expands Faculty to Stay Competitive
After 11 years on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Catherine Lutz was eager to relocate. Her husband, a doctor, was tired of a lengthy commute to work. Brown University was one of several universities Lutz spoke to and the first to offer the anthropology professor a job, which she accepted.
The private university — in the midst of its largest hiring spree in decades — created the position and hired her a year ago, in about half the usual time.
Eager to compete for top scholars and students, Brown is more than one-third of the way to hiring 100 new teachers and researchers. About 30 percent of the new hires are minorities, whom the university is especially eager to attract.
Brown is among a handful of universities nationwide that have announced plans in recent years to significantly expand their teaching ranks, said Sheldon Steinbach, general counsel for the American Council on Education (ACE), a Washington, D.C.,-based lobbying group.
“It is a significant statement by Brown that it wants to stay competitive,” Steinbach said.
Harvard University announced recently a major expansion of its engineering program, including a 67 percent increase in the size of the faculty and the possible establishment of a separate school.
Dr. Venkatesh Narayanamurti, dean of Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, told The Boston Globe he’s working on a plan to boost the faculty from 60 to 100 full-time professors, which would cost about $400 million.
Dr. Rajiv Vohra, Brown’s dean of faculty, said Brown’s faculty expansion will also cost about $400 million. He said the plan is part of a $1 billion fund-raising campaign that would also cover construction of new buildings and other expansion costs.
“There’s no doubt we need to do it … we want to move the university forward,” Vohra said.
Over the past two years Brown has filled 37 of the 100 positions it plans to add.
Vohra said the new positions will boost all areas of the university’s education and research efforts and make it more competitive in attracting top scholars.
Lutz, 52, was hired through a fast-track program that will allow 25 of the new positions to be filled much quicker than the year or more it often takes for other positions to be filled.
The university can aggressively pursue a candidate, for example, rather than post an opening and wait for applicants.
“If you are looking for a world-renowned scholar in virtually any field, the competition is very stiff,” Vohra said.
Brown, like other universities, is also eager to hire more minorities. Vohra cited, in particular, a growing Hispanic population on campus.
“It is helpful to have role models on campus they can relate to,” he said.
About 30 percent of Brown’s 37 new hires to date have been minorities. Brown’s 628-member faculty is 16 percent minority, slightly more diverse than the national average, Steinbach said.
Minorities nationwide hold just over 14 percent of higher education faculty positions, according to a year-old ACE report.
Lutz, who is not a minority, said she would probably have ended up somewhere else if Brown hadn’t hired her quickly.
Her husband now works at nearby Rhode Island Hospital and their two children have adjusted to the changes.
“It’s perfect,” she said.
— The Associated Press
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