Western hires 90 new faculty

Mai Hoang

Nearly 90 new full-time faculty are at Western this fall, but university officials are still scrambling to find additional part-time faculty to accommodate increasing enrollment.

John Petersen, associate vice president for Academic Programs and Personnel, said the majority of new faculty were hired over the summer to fill vacant positions. About 20 of the faculty are serving in new positions, he said.

The majority of the new hires are in English, mathematics and communications, where enrollment pressures are increasing.

Since Western has increased enrollment by about 1,000 students since last year, part-time faculty and increased teacher workloads will help every student have a “qualified faculty member for every class,” Petersen said.

Western will use revenue produced by the university’s increased enrollment to fund the 20 new positions.

The university wanted to hire more faculty this year for new positions to help alleviate rapid enrollment growth, Petersen said. But a flat state budget and the possibility of a future state budget cut allowed Western university to hire fewer faculty.

The lower number of hires is meant to help Western save money in case there is a state budget reduction. Last year the university was forced to use unbudgeted tuition funds to pay for a $1.1 million budget cut.

“We hope we can find a way to (fund) a budget reduction if there is one,”

Petersen said. “We have to plan for that possibility. One of the ways we’re doing that is setting aside some of the unbudgeted tuition money so we won’t have to freeze or cut positions.”

President Gary Ransdell said it is likely that other universities with enrollment growth will also have to be conservative in hiring.

“For those who are growing, they are facing the same problems we’re facing,” Ransdell said. “We’re in the same shape with flat state funding and the specter of more budget cuts.”

Ransdell said Western is prepared to use a projected $2.5 million in unbudgeted revenue toward state cuts. But in the event there isn’t a budget cut, the money would be used to hire more faculty.

“Generally, this is all the hiring we’ll be able to do now,” he said.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]