Mercyhurst Vice President of Academic Affairs Phil Belfiore Ph.D, says that there is no hold at this time on hiring new faculty for the next academic year, 2015-16.
Belfiore will sit down over the course of the current year with President Tom Gamble, Ph.D. of Mercyhurst and discuss options in allocating money for the next year. The number of new faculty hired next year will depend on how much money is available and how many other departmental needs there are, Belfiore said.
“There is no faculty hiring freeze. We have never had a freeze on faculty hiring in the years I have been in [the Office of Academic Affairs],” Belfiore said.
Decisions are based on a number of aspects including whether the university needs something such as furniture, or whether a department needs a new professor.
“There are only so many openings this year,” Belfiore said. “I will go back to the deans [of the schools] and decide on how many teachers are hired.”
New faculty for next year will be hired over the next several months, Belfiore said. New professors start the academic year in September, the same time as students. They are usually hired the year before they begin teaching.
Decisions on hiring new faculty are based on the budget, which is directly related to enrollment. Depending on the amount of incoming freshmen and transfers, the budget allows for more or less money for hiring. However, if a professor leaves or retires, that position in the academic department will be filled, Belfiore said. After the budget is proposed, the president decides where the money will go so as to best to benefit the students, Belfiore said.
Once the president authorizes a budget, the university’s Board of Trustees must also give its stamp of approval.
Hiring a new professor takes time and consideration. Certain data—new enrollment, including transfers, the number of majors and minors, and if those majors and minors relate to the university core curriculum—are part of the decision process, Belfiore said.
For example, Philosophy is a part of the core curriculum, but has few students who major in it. Even though it is not a popular major, it still needs a large staff to support the core classes.
Belfiore said the administration also considers whether the new professor can add something unique to the position—combining a current major with another subject. This is another reason why the process takes so long, he said. “It’s one big puzzle. It’s just getting the pieces to fit together,” Belfiore said.
The main focus of the university, however, is the students. Its goals are to provide innovative academic programs and keep students safe. “The bottom line is students,” Belfiore said.