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Key themes reflected in new faculty hiring

By Mitchel Benson on October 21, 2005 in University News

An innovative competition to identify the campus's highest priorities over the next two years will result in the addition of nearly 40 new faculty positions to programs that focus on globalization, food, agriculture, energy, transportation, health and the environment.

Campus administrators and faculty groups that reviewed the programs say those academic and research themes should sound familiar to the UC Davis community, because the aim has been to play to the campus's established strengths.

"The intent was to build on our existing and unique strengths, with particular focus on the goal of continuing excellence in research by investing in targeted areas of established and emerging excellence and distinction, but to do it in perhaps new and exciting ways," said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.

In all, Hinshaw — after consultation with the deans, the Academic Senate Committee on Academic Planning and Budget Review, and other faculty groups — selected nine programs out of a list of 25 proposals submitted that represented requests for more than 183 new ladder-rank instruction and research faculty positions.

The competitive process was part of a three-pronged approach launched in July to allocate new faculty positions among the campus's seven general divisions and colleges.

The new approach is designed to reevaluate campus priorities every two years and accordingly distribute new ladder-rank instruction and research faculty positions that open from growth or retirement in an equitable, predictable and accountable fashion. In launching the new process this summer, the campus estimated that 125 ladder-rank instruction and research faculty FTE positions would open during the next two fiscal years, including 75 positions from growth and 50 from retirement.

Hinshaw's plan all along has been to allocate only 30 percent of those available positions using the competitive proposal process, while allocating another 20 percent from a "Provost Reserve" to handle unexpected opportunities or challenges that the campus needs or wants to meet.

The biggest block — fully half the total faculty FTE positions expected to open — were allocated earlier this year according to a formula that takes into account each division, school or college's base (2003-04 academic year) share of instruction and research as well as its growth in instruction and research.

The formula uses the base and growth of such factors as each campus unit's number of majors, student credit hours of instruction in fall, winter, spring and summer, research dollars spent and the number of graduate students.

See adjacent sidebar, "Campus prioritizes faculty hiring," for more information.

CAMPUS PRIORITIZES FACULTY HIRING

Here are the nine proposals that will be allocated faculty positions this year from the competitive process. The number of faculty positions shown for each program includes those assigned through the competitive proposal process, the "Provost Reserve" and matching positions pledged by deans:

  • Agricultural Sustainability Ins-titute: The enhancement of society's welfare by researching and advancing scientifically sound strategies to produce abundant, healthful food while reducing the impact of agricultural production on the environment. Faculty: Eight FTE positions in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
  • Computational Characterization and Exploitation of Biological Net-works: The development of new, more complex computational and mathematical modeling and analytical techniques to better understand new and existing biological networks of data for clinical, agricultural and industrial benefits. Faculty: Seven FTE positions, including three in the College of Biological Sciences, two in the College of Engineering, one in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and one in the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
  • Energy for the Future and Transportation: The development of new, sustainable, long-term energy and transportation technologies, focusing on alternatives to non-renewable fossil fuel reserves, minimal environment impact and land use and transportation planning. Faculty: 12 FTE positions, including five in the College of Engineering, four in the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, two in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and one in the Division of Social Sciences.
  • Foods for Health: The development of improved foods for humans and animals, along with the dietary and health management practices that can optimize their use. Faculty: 10 FTE positions, including six in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, two in the College of Biological Sciences and two in the College of Engineering.
  • Global Environmental Change: The development of a new approach to studying and managing the ecological impacts of human-induced environmental change, employing statistical, computational and ecological modeling with an eye toward responses and solutions. Faculty: Eight FTE positions, including six in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and two in the College of Biological Sciences.
  • Globalization and Internationali-zation: The development of a world-based perspective on social sciences through high-caliber courses, curricula and academic programs, along with problem solving research efforts. Faculty: Nine FTE positions in the Division of Social Sciences.
  • Islam, Culture and Society: The development of new courses, research initiatives and academic programs on Islam and the Middle East, including courses in Islam and citizenship, Islamic culture, Jews in Arab lands, Quran and Arabic language and linguistics. Faculty: Eight FTE positions, including four in the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies and four in the Division of Social Sciences.
  • Stem Cell and Bioethics: The development of a "critical mass" of scientists to create a "nurturing environment" for fundamental, transitional and clinical approaches to stem cell biology. Faculty: Six FTE positions, including five in the School of Medicine and one in the School of Law.
  • Universe@UC Davis: The development of a cross-disciplinary institute, including computer science, math, statistics and physics, that focuses "on the frontier of physics and information," dark energy and dark Matter. Faculty: Six FTE positions, including four in the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and two in the College of Engineering.

For details, see http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/budget.

Media contact(s)

Mitchel Benson, (530) 752-9844, mdbenson@ucdavis.edu

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