From the President's Desk
Well, they’re here. And there are more of them than we’ve seen in a long time. They bring excitement and energy to the University, great talent and promise, high hopes and expectations. They’re a little nervous about beginning this chapter in their lives with us, and they’re looking for reassurances that they made the right decision in coming here. Yes, by the time we get to fall census, we will probably have more than 17,000 students enrolled this semester, the most ever. But I’m not talking about our students. I’m talking about our new faculty.
Forty-seven new tenure-track faculty are with us this fall, the largest cohort in almost 20 years. Seventeen are in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences alone. Altogether they represent about 7 percent of our full-time faculty and underscore the rapid changes before us as the faculty of the 1960s and 1970s, and even later, retire. At this rate, the beginning edge of which began two years ago when we added 23 new tenure-track faculty to the University, we are on a course that by 2012, our 125th anniversary, about half of our faculty will be new since 2004.
Along with greeting our new students, nothing gives me greater pleasure in the fall than welcoming our new faculty. Let me share with you some impressions of this group and the success for our students and University that we anticipate through their presence.
First, they are proven teachers and scholars. Across the many disciplines they represent, they are engaged in the most current conversations of their fields of study. They know well what is happening on the frontiers of their areas of expertise and, especially, how to bring that familiarity to bear in their teaching. This, in fact, is what students admire and need most from faculty—their ability to distill the essence of the knowledge they possess and to transmit it effectively.
Second, they love teaching. Not only do they possess those important personal qualities of enthusiasm, kindness, intellectual integrity, and openness that are crucial to enabling students to learn, but they recognize that teaching is fun. They know that inspiring self-trust and self-confidence in their students is the key to self-discovery and that that journey should be both daring and joyful.
Third, they want to be here. They feel that their own interests and values regarding the kind of university at which they want to pursue their careers are aligned with what they expect to find here. This is not a matter of chance. Our deans, department chairpersons, and faculty focused on “fit” throughout the search processes, from wording position announcements to conducting interviews to extending offers. Eighty percent of the faculty searches we conducted in 2006–2007 concluded successfully because we knew what we were looking for and communicated that clearly and effectively to prospective faculty who were seeking something similar.
At the heart of high morale and high-quality communities is a sense of alignment between individual and institutional values. We seek new members of our community, not only to share our goals, but also to ensure their attainment. We have welcomed our new faculty at Opening Convocation, the Fall Reception, and other occasions already, and their names and those of our new staff members were in the Convocation program. But I encourage all members of the University, whenever you can, to let them know how glad we are to have them with us. We look forward to the pleasure of their company for many years to come, and the generous spirit of their welcome will surely contribute to that.
My very best wishes to the newest members of our community—and our most senior—for a successful year.
—Paul J. Zingg, President