A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Key Themes to Drive Future Faculty Recruitment

August 28, 2015

Over the next six years, hiring of ladder-rank faculty members at UC Merced will strengthen research, education and outreach programs in six key interdisciplinary thematic areas.

Exclusive of positions that were unfilled in last year’s recruiting, vacated by departed faculty members or allocated directly for hiring in disciplinary foundations, faculty members who can contribute extensively in one of three themes will be recruited:

  • Sustainability
  • Inequality, resistance and social justice
  • Computational science and data analytics

Teams of key faculty members in each of these three areas have been working throughout the spring and summer to articulate specific sub-areas within these broad themes in which to recruit new faculty members, and committees to lead those searches are being established. We anticipate investing a total of 12 positions during the 2015-16 recruiting year for these targeted searches.

Next year, another set of target areas from among the six key themes will be chosen for emphasis and recruiting. With this approach, sometimes referred to as cluster hiring, we hope to more rapidly advance the academic excellence in these key themes than would have been possible through traditional faculty recruiting methodologies.

Additionally, four positions will be allocated directly to specific bylaw units. The primary driver for allocating those positions will be enrollment pressures currently met by ladder-rank faculty members in those units. That is, those programs in which ladder-rank faculty members are most extensively engaged in teaching courses for undergraduates at both the lower and upper divisions will be given highest priority.

To assist in the fair and equitable evaluation of how these positions are best allocated, both for the target cluster hires as well as for the foundational hires, data analytics tools are being utilized. To guide the cluster hiring, UC Merced now subscribes to Academic Analytics software, which provides substantial quantitative comparison between strengths at UC Merced and other campuses nationwide in specific areas of thematic research. To help guide faculty hiring in specific disciplinary units, we are looking at the longitudinal data of current ladder-rank faculty involvement in teaching our undergraduate and graduate students.

All this is done in an effort to advance the educational excellence of this campus in the most effective and efficient way possible. We enjoy the unprecedented opportunity to build a research university in a manner unencumbered by traditional academic boundaries. The hope is that by capitalizing on the incredible creative ideas and initiatives generated by our faculty, we can continue to build the kind of singularly unique academic institution that attracted us all here in the first place.

Tom Peterson is provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Merced.