First Wave of Faculty Hires Proceeding

Northern is in the process of hiring about 15 additional full-time-equated (FTE) teaching faculty for the 2007-08 academic year. This is the first step in the action plan unveiled during the winter 2006 semester by President Les Wong. It calls for the university to add 60 FTE positions within five years, at an investment of up to $840,000 per year.  


“The goal of these enhancements is to lower the number of student credit hours per FTE teaching faculty,” said Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs). “That number is high when compared with other universities in the state and this will help bring it down somewhat. The fact the university is going ahead and advertising these positions is an indication that the president intends to deliver on his promise of responding to concerns about faculty productivity combined with continued enrollment growth.”


Joyal said the Educational Policies Committee, comprised of academic deans and AAUP-appointed faculty leaders, submitted a formal recommendation as to which academic areas would be enhanced by the first wave of new hires.


The following departments will gain one FTE teaching position: art and design; biology; communication and performance studies; computer information systems; criminal justice; English; health, physical education and recreation; hospitality management; Native American studies; and sociology. Chemistry will hire two new positions and academic information services/library will gain the equivalent of 0.67 FTE teaching faculty. New graduate assistant positions – totaling 1.33 FTE – are being created in both nursing and psychology.   


“The nursing GAs will help with the clinicals, which have 10 or fewer students, so a nursing faculty member can focus on other needs,” Joyal added. “The graduate program in psychology has been reinstated, so the GAs in that department will be able to manage the labs and free up faculty for other teaching duties.”


The graduate assistants represent the non-tenured portion of the faculty “mix” discussed at an NMU Board of Trustees meeting last March. Statistics presented to the trustees indicated that Northern’s instructional costs and faculty productivity are higher than other state universities, in part because its mix is 74 percent tenured/tenure-earning faculty and 26 percent non-tenured faculty. The state average is 58 percent and 42 percent, respectively. Trustees were told that the target of 60 additional FTE teaching faculty would be achieved through a combination of budget reallocations and an “appropriate mix” of tenured/tenure-earning faculty and non-tenured faculty.


Joyal said the deans will continue to submit their staffing plans to the provost by the first week of the fall semester so that the five-year plan can be updated and appropriate hiring decisions made.


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Updated: January 17, 2007

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