The University of Oregon announced that it will search for 34 tenure-track faculty during the 2021-22 academic year. This year’s Institutional Hiring Plan comes after more than a yearlong hiring freeze due to a decrease in state support and tuition revenue during the pandemic.
UO Provost Patrick Phillips said this year’s IHP is a “raw restart” after the 2020-21 plan was halted. The IHP normally includes 40 to 45 positions, but this year they decided to take it slow as the university rebuilds post-COVID-19.
“One of the challenges from a departmental point of view is because the plan is not as large as some years, some really great ideas just couldn't be approved this year,” he said. “But that doesn't mean that they won't be approved in future years.”
Nearly everyone who works at the university is involved in creating the IHP. Faculty in each department propose ideas to their department heads, who then run those ideas by their school’s deans. The deans rank them in order of immediate importance and recommend them to the Provost’s Deans Hiring Advisory Committee and the Active Recruitment Team. The Provost and the committees consider each proposal before drafting the IHP. This year’s process began in November 2020, a later date than usual due to COVID-19 uncertainties.
UO started to put out an annual IHP after the 2008 recession, when the university had to take a hard look at how to grow certain areas in times of need with less state support. Phillips said the centralized process of the IHP has resulted in the university knitting itself together more closely through engaged campus discussions, thinking and planning.
Four of the new positions are related to Native American and Indigenous studies, which Phillips said are not explicitly for the new undergraduate major, but will undoubtedly be a part of it once the program is fully implemented. The IHP prioritizes positions that will fit the long term goals of the university and serve its students in every capacity.
“The faculty group in particular was really paying attention to diversity and inclusion issues,” Phillips said. “We're really advocating that when we had to make choices that we would always go on that side this year.”
Holocaust studies, Latin American philosophy, mass timber design, and science and risk communication are just a few of the positions being offered on this year’s IHP. There are others in music, design, psychology, human physiology, global studies and more. Each school will put together job advertisements and search committees, and Phillips said the university will support the various departments in their own hiring timelines.
While faculty, department heads, deans and advisory committees collaborate with one another to create the IHP, Phillips said students can also play an important role in the search.
“We value student input on the faculty they see as being great teachers and great mentors,” he said. “But I think undergraduates at this university have not taken advantage of the opportunity and potential influence they could have on providing input on faculty searches.”