Update on hiring.

Williams Stresses Tenure Track Hires

The economic downturn is forcing a conversation about priorities on even some of the most well-heeled of college campuses, as evidenced by the recent deliberations of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions at Williams College. The six-person committee, which is made up of high-level administrators and some elected faculty, recently reviewed faculty searches that had been authorized last spring before the economy took a dive.

Bill Wagner, dean of faculty at Williams and a member of the committee, says the group outlined a series of criteria required for moving ahead with searches. A premium was placed on filling vacancies that, if unfilled, would prevent students from progressing through majors. Beyond that concern, the committee focused on meeting a few long-term hiring goals, rather than simply plugging a lot of holes with temporary solutions.

“It would make more sense to give preference, therefore, to those [tenure track] positions, as opposed to trying to replace tenure track positions with visiting positions in the short term,” Wagner says. “We think that’s a shortsighted policy.”

The committee ultimately approved six of 14 previously authorized searches for tenure track faculty, and approved about one-third of the more than 20 proposed visiting professorship searches.

Tough to believe that Morty is taking the financial situation seriously when Williams is still hiring 7 (?) visiting professors. That is around $700,000 that should be saved from the 2009-2010 budget. Any class that might be taught by one of these visitors (and that is needed for major requirements or whatnot) should be taught by some other member of that department.

Consider:

The dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has called for an immediate freeze on staff hiring and strongly encouraged department heads to consider canceling faculty searches.

In an e-mail to department heads Monday, Michael Smith, dean of the largest Harvard faculty, outlined immediate steps in response to the worsening economic climate.

“Given our heavy reliance on endowment income, these losses will have a major and long-lasting impact – one that will require significant reductions in our annual expenses,” Smith wrote.

Williams is poorer than Harvard. The longer Morty waits to make significant budget cuts, the more painful the adjustment process will be. It is hard to think of an easier step then not hiring any visiting professors for 2009-2010. If Morty won’t cut that, what will he cut?

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