Creative fingers in the
Faculty still holding firm
By Dan Heuchert
October, Faculty Senate Chairman Michael J. Smith warned the Board
of Visitors of an impending faculty retention crisis as stagnant
salaries and budget cuts battered morale.
frankly, we are in danger of losing good faculty at every level,
Smith said then.
months later, there has been no mass exodus, Smith and other University
officials say. The same economic conditions that swamped U.Va.s
budget have deterred many potential faculty raiders, while the
slumping stock market has senior professors postponing retirement.
bad all over, said Gene D. Block, vice president and provost.
The big state systems are all suffering. We may be worse
off than some and not as bad as others.
schools are seeing their endowments drop, Block said, forcing
cutbacks in their spending. Stanford was forced to impose a 7
percent budget cut, he noted.
In another presentation to the board in late January, Block reported
just 12 resignations among
tenured and tenure-track Arts & Sciences faculty in 2002,
compared with an average of nearly 31 in the four previous years.
Across the University, there were just 59 resignations, compared
with an average of nearly 85 in the four previous years.
University is clearly not yet out of the woods. The academic hiring
cycle is just reaching the stage in which final interviews are
taking place and offers are being made, said Edward L. Ayers,
dean of Arts & Sciences. The real test is coming up
in the next few months, he acknowledged.
agrees. Hes heard rumors of possible departures. We
shouldnt be breathing a sigh of relief yet, he said.
It would be a real mistake to assume that were fine.
said the University has warded off overtures to some faculty members
from schools like Yale, Duke and Penn, but he concedes that somebody
will likely leave. The key, he said, is preventing wide-scale
panic and offering hope that things will be better. The continued
planning for the South Lawn Project and the arts precinct are
morale-boosters, he said.
the falls budget cuts, the University set aside $6 million
to retain key faculty and sustain some endangered programs. Thus
far, none of the Budget Defense Fund has been needed
to match outside offers, Block said, although he is prepared to
use it if need be.
it comes to a leave-or-stay choice, faculty have demonstrated
a high degree of loyalty, he said.
and Charlottesville act as a strong magnet, Block said.
I think this place has a fair amount of capture value.
though, is still cautious. The deans have done a pretty
good job at being proactive and identifying people pretty early
as being at risk, he said. We have a lot of creative
fingers in the dike, but I wouldnt want to stay in this
position for long.
the faculty census has remained flat, while student enrollment
has climbed steadily. From 2000 through 2002, the University has
added just one new faculty member per 91 new undergraduate and
graduate students (excluding Law, Darden and Medicine), Block
told the Board of Visitors.
the hiring freeze on faculty positions was recently thawed, many
positions remain unfilled. That has many implications, including
shutting off the flow of new ideas and perspectives and slowing
progress in diversifying the faculty ranks.
youre not recruiting, youre standing still,
Smith said. And when youre standing still, youre