After a recommendation by the Academic Planning Committee (APC) during a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this semester, three new faculty lines will be added to the College’s chemistry, biology, and mathematics departments next fall.
Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beth Rushing explained that funding was only originally provided for two positions. But since the APC decided that three departments were the most in need of new staffing, Rushing plans to pull existing resources to fund the third position.
According to President Joseph Urgo, those existing resources include accumulated budget savings from professors on sabbatical over the past few years.
“We asked all the academic departments to submit five to ten page proposals,” explained Rushing. The departments all had the opportunity to talk about their average class sizes, popularity of majors, and what things they could accomplish if extra faculty was added to their department.
“I knew many departments could make a strong case,” said Rushing. “But [the committee] found the strongest needs in those three.”
Urgo also noted that the science and math departments have seen a huge spike in student enrollment over the past few years.
According to Biology Department Chair Holly Gorton, the filling of these positions will be a significant help for the biology department and will “ease the staffing difficulties we are experiencing right now.” The biology department’s newest member will serve the neuroscience aspect of the department, but will also help teach the department’s most demanded classes, Principles of Biology I and II, and help advise St. Mary’s Projects.
She also noted that it will help extend the neuroscience minor within the department. “We haven’t been able to have a neurobiology course in years,” she said. “Without this addition, the quality of the program would suffer. We don’t just want to be able to hire adjunct professors; we want experience in the department. This new faculty member will allow us to have that.”
According to Gorton, all three new positions are set to be filled next fall, and she hopes to have some possible candidates on campus later this semester. Gorton also mentioned that she is excited about the coming addition to program. “We’re all thrilled to be able to do this,” she said. “[We have] gotten some great applicants so far.”