University budget cuts will significantly impact both the evolution and composition of the Stanford faculty in upcoming years.
According to Stanford's budget plan for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, a total of 49 faculty searches were frozen across the University. In addition, many of Stanford's seven academic schools are also eliminating, or leaving unfilled, seats left open by retirement.
This will limit the growth, and in some cases, reduce the number through attrition, of Stanford's faculty body. Budget cuts and the new endowment base-line, however, will also likely affect the overall character of the evolution of Stanford's faculty.
Changes on the Horizon
University President John Hennessy told The Daily that he expected the effect of leaving some faculty positions empty to be significant.
"The faculty will shrink in the process," Hennessy said.
He also stressed that the hiring decisions that are made "will require a careful articulation of what the highest priorities are."
Hennessy noted, however, that resources will still be in place for enticing world-class faculty hires.
"I think we will be looking for opportunities, including those once-in-a-decade opportunities," Hennessy said.
Humanities & Sciences (H&S) Dean Richard Saller said that this attitude has carried over into hiring within H&S, which will be pursuing a small number of appointments.
"The few appointment files we've passed along have been spectacularly good," Saller said. "We're seeing a higher standard."
Saller added that the focus is on not missing out on opportunities that may not come up again.
"When I talk to department chairs, instead of asking, 'Who's the best of this year's crop?' I'm asking, 'Is there anybody where we will always regret not making the appointment?" Saller said.
Hennessy said that he expected a shift in the nature of hiring decisions towards younger scholars.
"I think there will be more hiring on the junior level than on the senior level," Hennessy said.
In an email to The Daily, Provost John Etchemendy echoed this assessment, adding that he considers it "a very welcome result."
"Outstanding junior faculty bring new perspectives and can make an even bigger impact on the University than senior 'lateral' hires, because they make their reputation here, rather than bringing it with them," Etchemendy said.
"Departments sometimes feel they need to replace a senior retiree with another senior faculty member, to replace the lost reputation, but it's a bad idea to make that a regular practice," Etchemendy added. "Sometimes the 'cheaper' approach . . . is also the better one."
In line with a focus on costs, the School of H&S was among a number of schools to restrict its faculty hiring. The University budget plan mentions a general "moratorium" on hiring within the school, but Saller said that H&S will be able to make a few, though no more than a half-dozen, appointments.
"We've just sent out a letter to the departments, saying that there may be a small handful of recruitments next year to meet the most pressing needs," Saller said.
He noted, however, that due to the school's 27 departments and a variety of needs, this will not be sufficient to meet the goals of everyone within the school.
"With 27 departments, the disappointment is going to be much greater than the happiness of an authorized search," Saller said.
The gift of endowed chairs can allow for the addition of new faculty outside of expectations within the budget plan, Saller noted, pointing to the addition of a professor in Chinese archaeology, and the ongoing centrality of fundraising for the University's efforts to expand in Middle Eastern, South Asian and East Asian studies.
Regardless of Stanford's own decisions and the economic downturn, however, competition with other institutions for top faculty will remain high. In an email to The Daily, Law School Dean Larry Kramer said this factor motivated his school's decision to not reduce hiring efforts.
"Many of our peers are doing the same thing, and it would hurt the Law School in the long run more than it would help our budget in the short run were we to cease hiring," Kramer said.
He also emphasized not letting opportunities go to waste.
"There is, moreover, a lot of interest among faculty at other schools in possibly coming to Stanford, meaning a lot of opportunities to bring in fantastic new people," Kramer said.
Stanford's Other Schools
In marked contrast to the situation at some other schools, the School of Medicine will be seeing the projected recruitment of 43 incremental faculty. Of this projected recruitment, 25 will be from the Medical Center line and 20 from the overall University tenure line. Necessary programmatic and staff support will also be provided, thereby representing a significant expense for the school, contributing to an increase of $17.8 million in the school's compensation expenses.
The funding for this change comes as a result of a not-unfavorable budget situation, due to the influx of external research money, including expected funds from grants in association with the federal stimulus legislation.
The specifics of hiring practices in light of budget cuts vary between each of Stanford's other four schools.
At the Graduate School of Business (GSB), faculty hiring has been slowed, with the result that the school's target of 110 tenure-line faculty for its new curriculum will be reached later than originally expected.
Earth Sciences has put a number of faculty searches on hold for an indefinite period. The school will also not move to replace upcoming retirement for a number of years.
The School of Education will be eliminating two faculty positions. The budget plan describes the move as primarily motivated by the direct savings in salary costs, and also the desire not to "stretch an already lean staff."
The School of Engineering is also contemplating the "freezing" of new faculty hires until additional funds can be secured.