By Emily Losito
Eleven faculty position openings listed on the Notice Board in December disappeared in January. Six positions in the School of Arts & Sciences, two in the School of Education and three in the School of Business were taken down at the beginning of the 2017 spring semester.
Several faculty searches have been suspended, according to Joseph Zimmer, Ph.D., St. Bonaventure University provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The main reason, according to Maureen Cox, Ph.D., is a budgetary concern. She said President Andrew Roth wants to protect the people employed here already.
David Hilmey, Ph.D., dean of arts and sciences, said, “The budgetary shortfalls resulted from increased enrollment and [Bonaventure doesn’t] have the same operating budget.”
Cox, an associate professor and department chair of mathematics, said although several searches were approved, “We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin.”
Hilmey, as associate professor of chemistry, said the arts and sciences department will spread the load of teaching.
“We’ll manage the course load to find people to fill in where we need them,” he said.
Zimmer said, “We’ve seen enrollment pressures the past six or seven years…. Part of my job is to make sure the number of faculty is appropriate to the number of students.”
He said the chairs of the departments, deans, the president, the institutional research and he are responsible for the research on the number of classes that need new faculty.
Hilmey said, “The cybersecurity and chemistry positions had been filled in the fall. The other searches had not concluded, or had not been completed, so they were suspended…. I’m certainly hopeful that [the searches] will be brought back in the fall,” Hilmey said.
Zimmer said there are 19 steps to hiring a new faculty member. When the search committee, consisting of faculty in and outside of the department, narrow the potential hires to three people, the school pays for their expenses to come out to Bonaventure and stay at the hotel across the street, according to Zimmer.
He said the faculty at Bonaventure ’s has been aging. The school has a new “phasing out” retirement plan that allows retiring professors to slowly decrease their workload or drop down to teaching part-time and then fully retire.
“It’s sad when someone leaves who has been here since the 60s. They’ve seen a lot and have a lot of experience….Then you have someone new with a new shot of energy that’s young and can relate to the students easily,” Zimmer said.
Class sizes are also taken into account, according to Zimmer. Small class sizes and too many professors drive prices up for students attending Bonaventure.
“Some vacancies can be handled by adjunct professors,” Zimmer said.
“We hope that we can manage the course load and to find individuals to fill in where we need them,” Hilmey said.
Bonaventure has a number of plans to increase enrollment numbers, according to Zimmer.
“The admissions office has really sharpened….It’s a tough marketplace for potential freshmen,” he said.
Other programs, like the Military Aligned and Allied Health programs, aim to drive enrollment up. He said last year Bonaventure had 32 student veterans, and they’re hoping for 200 next year.
Zimmer said there have been 10 faculty hired this year. Hilmey added that the professor and director of cybersecurity has been filled.
“This is not an easy process. In some cases, we can handle it; in other instances, we’re trying to find ways to handle it,” he said. “We’re not at a point where we feel we have this suspension under control, but we’re hoping we can get there.”