Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College plans to expand faculty by 40

The recently released preliminary Committee on Academic Planning report calls for the hiring of at least 40 more full time scholar-teachers to the faculty, in addition to several other faculty programs, the money for which likely come from the upcoming capital campaign.

The report states that the need for more faculty is two-fold. Not only will several of these new positions be directed towards departments with critical shortages, but the additional positions will help the College expand or create new departments and programs, such as the medical school's genetics department or the proposed writers program.

"These professorships would create a new core of truly outstanding recruits at all levels, helping Dartmouth project an image of an exciting institution where great research and fine teaching go hand in hand," the report reads.

The new faculty to be recruited should ideally be "established scholars" in the early stages of their careers, some perhaps just having undergone a tenure review at other institutions.

The administration would be in charge of identifying departments at Dartmouth which are in the greatest need for new faculty, according to the report. This aspect of the report caused a stir among faculty members at its release during Monday's faculty meeting.

The program is designed to be far more flexible than regular endowed chairs, Provost Susan Prager said. While a new position may initially be assigned to one department, if that position is vacated and a greater need is identified in a different department, then that position can be switched, Prager said.

While there are a number of departments that need additional faculty, the College's three most popular majors -- computer science, biology and economics -- all are in need of additional professors, Prager said.

The flexibility is key to the program, Prager said. "Where once faculty provisions were movable ... it is much harder now."

"We always envisioned that there would be an academic [department] for each of these [new] faculty members, and there would be a normal evaluative process for these faculty appointments" to be controlled by the individual departments and the Committee on Academic Personnel, Prager told The Dartmouth.

"Some people conjured up that somehow a central administration would appoint" the new faculty members into departments, she continued. "That would be, quite frankly, astonishing in a strong academic institution, to think in those terms."

An additional concern of some faculty was that the expansion program will be linked to the prospect of fundraising, Prager said.

Because of the high cost involved with a project of this magnitude, it would be almost impossible to support a program of this scope from the current budget, and that is why faculty recruitment will no doubt be a major part of the upcoming capital campaign, Prager said.

To be able to afford to hire at least 40 new faculty members, the College must undertake a substantial fundraising effort, yet is likely to break from the traditional method of raising funds for new faculty.

Usually, when a contributor wishes to endow a new faculty position, they establish a chair in a department -- currently costing at Dartmouth a minimum of $2 million. Chairs are known to go up to $5 million, know as "super-chairs," which are often heavily concentrated in the sciences and other departments that need substantial research funds endowed in addition to the faculty member's base salary.

In the most recent capital campaign, Will to Excel, which ended in 1996, the College found it difficult to raise money for faculty chairs from some of its major donors.

The initial goal for endowed chairs was actually to be decreased, despite the fact that the campaign as a whole exceeded its stated goal, College President James Wright told The Dartmouth.

As the College moves into its next capital campaign, the administration is likely to take a different track to raise the money for more faculty.

Dartmouth hopes to secure one or two major donors to give the entire amount needed for new faculty programs, in what may turn out to be one of the largest gifts to Dartmouth in the history of the College, Wright said.

There are a group of alumni that have the opportunity to make a truly "transformative gift" to the College that could be "very important to Dartmouth's future strength," Prager said.

That would mean, at a minimum, 40 fully endowed professorships would need an endowment of at least $80 million to support the program. The total, though still in the most preliminary phases of planning, is more likely to be in the $100 million--range because in several departments it is important to endow the acquisition of expensive scientific equipment and the salaries of additional staff, such as lab technicians in the sciences, Prager said.

Currently, the faculty of Arts and Sciences has 66 full-time endowed professorships and two part-time visiting professorships.

Despite dramatic returns in the past several years to the College's endowment -- especially this year -- further money must be raised because much of the endowment is restricted in its use, Wright said.

Some of the additional funds from returns on the current endowment will likely go to increase the competitive rates of pay for our current faculty, Wright said.

"My first priority is to make sure that the faculty [currently] here are receiving competitive compensation," he said.

The additional faculty could go a long way toward improving the College's academic standing in the U.S. News and World Report national university ranking system, which tracks faculty to student ratio and average class size.

Dartmouth's current faculty-to-student ratio of 9:1 is slightly higher than several of its peer institutions such as Princeton, with 6:1, Harvard, with 8:1 and the University of Pennsylvania, with 7:1.

Faculty-to-student ratio counts for five percent of the faculty resources category. The percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students counts for 30 percent of that index.

Faculty compensation counts for 35 percent of the faculty resources category in the U.S. News rankings.