Archive for Wednesday, October 3, 2012

KU hiring campaign under way

October 3, 2012


For the first time since the mid-2000s, Kansas University is embarking on a wide-scale effort to fill new faculty positions.

As proclaimed in a full-page ad in The Chronicle of Higher Education last month, KU is hiring for 64 newly created faculty spots. The jobs will be broken down into three categories, KU officials said:

• 12 “Foundation Professor” positions: spots designated for high-profile, established faculty members drawn from other institutions, to be funded by a $3 million annual award from the state with some donations through;

• 30 new jobs in the expanding School of Engineering, which will make use of increased tuition dollars from the growing student population;

• And 22 other positions, to be paid for with savings from the university’s ongoing Changing for Excellence efficiency measures.

The hiring campaign is a first during the tenure of Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. Because of budget cutbacks, the university’s faculty size decreased in the years shortly after she took office in 2009.

“There was a year or two where we did very little hiring of new faculty,” Gray-Little said.

She said the current effort would aim to return the faculty to the size it reached in the previous decade and then continue to grow.

Provost Jeff Vitter said the effort would be the biggest instance of faculty growth at KU since the early- to mid-2000s, when tuition dollars were rolling in as the university’s enrollment grew.

The university is spreading the word about its openings with an advertising campaign in print and online venues, KU spokesman Jack Martin said, including the full-page Chronicle ad that promises prospective faculty members the opportunity to “make discoveries that change the world” and cites its membership in the Association of American Universities.

To fill the 12 higher-profile jobs, Vitter said, KU will likely need to seek out prospects rather than waiting for them to apply.

“Typically, you need to target and find people and then entice them to come to campus,” Vitter said.

One way to do that will be to show off the university to scholars coming as part of the its Bold Aspirations Visitors and Lecture Series — visitors who would be “potential great hires,” Vitter said.

The other 52 jobs, at the engineering school and elsewhere, are meant for faculty members with a broader range of experience, Gray-Little said, including some junior faculty starting in their first positions.

The 30 engineering faculty positions are being created to keep pace with the engineering school’s planned 60 percent expansion in enrollment, Vitter said. The school is opening a new research building this fall and is planning construction on another larger building set to include classroom space, bolstered by state funds intended to help produce more engineers in Kansas.

Tuition from those additional students will help fund the new faculty jobs, Vitter said, and the hope is that growth will inspire more giving to the school, as well.

“It’s a giant circle that is a real win-win for everyone,” Vitter said.

The additional 22 new jobs, allocated to other schools and departments, were made possible by the efficiency measures made through the university’s Changing for Excellence program, Vitter said. Those changes, made with the help of the Huron Consulting Group, have included the reorganizing of the Facilities and Operations office and new vendor agreements.

“We are going through a lot of reorganization so we can do more with less, and use the savings to invest in making this university a better place,” Vitter said. “And a part of that is bringing in faculty so that we can provide our students with better experiences and we can be more innovative.”

Among the 97 KU employees who accepted early-retirement buyouts this year are 11 faculty members. Vitter said those early retirements could lead to new faculty jobs through reorganization in the future, but they did not contribute to the group of 64 jobs for which the university is now hiring.

Martin said the university had not set a deadline for filling the positions but has already begun identifying some candidates.

“The quality of these hires is what is most important and attracting top talent can take time,” Martin said.

Gray-Little said the new faculty positions would help the university beef up the quality and the quantity of its research — an important factor in maintaining its AAU membership.

“This is very much related to the question of research stature,” Gray-Little said.


Roger Tarbutton 5 years, 7 months ago

Won't help school rankings any because this is all about research not about the education of undergraduates.

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

The rankings can be gamed. US News doesn't care about the education of undergraduates. They just want to see selective admissions, lots of money spent per student, high professor salaries, high ACT scores, etc.

Brownback probably knows that and is waiting to take credit for KU's soon to be higher score when the selective admissions standards kick in.

HutchSaltHawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Seems odd that KU plans to hire all these folks when they have a difficult time with retention of existing faculty due to the "low pay."

Greg Walter 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't understand how they can pump so much money into one school and ignore the rest. I know for a fact the Architecture school is horribly underfunded and cramped for space causing most of the classes being taught in the program that aren't studios to be scattered around campus is various other buildings. I understand KU is spending big money for the new Renzo Piano Business School, which is good because the B-School really needs to get out of Summerfield, but they should really look into supporting their other schools too. The engineering school just got a new building (that includes faculty for the new spaces/curriculum available), they should go to the bottom of the list now and give schools that haven't seen any funding an option for growth. I know the physics/science department would also enjoy a new building instead of Malott which is far beyond its lifespan and effectiveness.

COjayrocks 5 years, 7 months ago

  1. The engineering school is about to build the new building because they are growing. They need the space and the State is helping to fund the new initiative to graduate more engineers in the state.

  2. Aside from business schools, I would venture to say engineering schools generate the most in private donations of any department on campus. Plus, a solid engineering school often has a great trickle-down affect on the other departments.

  3. Renzo Piano is designing a new business school on campus? If so, that would be fantastic. Any idea where I can get info on that?

  4. I say all this as a KU Arch grad, so I wish we could steal some of the table scraps from them.

Greg Walter 5 years, 7 months ago

As far as looking on the internet you are not going to find anything about the new Business School plans, but I as a current KU arch student I can confidently say that there are concrete plans of building a new business school on campus which will be designed by Renzo Piano with collaboration Perkins & Will. Last I heard of the project they haven't decided on a location yet but I assume it will be in the field next to Robinson or where the tennis courts are with some relation to the new Student Center/Museum being built at AFH.

Greg Walter 5 years, 7 months ago

You probably aren't going to see this now, but... yea, LJW just published the article on the new B-School. No mention of Renzo in the article, but while I was visiting the Perkins and Will office in Chicago (not the lead office, its being designed in Minnesota) I could have sworn they did mention that Renzo was collaborating with them, but it could just be a mixed memory from something that I was told earlier that was just a rumor.

COjayrocks 5 years, 7 months ago

Cool, thanks gdubs. Saw the article just now, looks like a great building and a great asset for our University. Now on to the architecture school, we could use an expansion for sure.

thinkinganalytically 5 years, 7 months ago

I have not seen an estimate of the savings from the Changing for Excellence program, but we have one here. Assuming each new position costs an average of $100,000 including benefits (a pretty reasonable guess if there is a mix of assistant, associate, and full professors across all the schools), the Changing for Excellence program is projected to save KU at least 2.2 million dollars a year. Is that in line with the public estimates KU has given?

Jack Martin 5 years, 7 months ago

More information about Changing for Excellence, including estimates, is available at

thinkinganalytically 5 years, 7 months ago

I am having a hard time finding the estimates on that page. Can you tell me where I should be looking for them?

Dan Eyler 5 years, 7 months ago

Here is the answer to why they are spending money on engineering. It's the economy and the governor knows engineering is critical to the states job market and growth.

Bob Forer 5 years, 7 months ago

I wish the university luck in attracting wordly, well-educated and sophisticated folks to the reactionary backwater known commonly as "Kansas."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.