Baker plans to hire new professors

Story by Kyle Davis

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In February 2010, Baker University was in the midst of a reduction and reallocation process, which cut back on faculty positions at the university.

A year later, the university’s administration is looking to add faculty jobs for the 2011-2012 year.

Administrators have had to deal for the loss professors that have left, or will leave, including Associate Professor of English Tracy Floreani, Associate Professor of Psychology Wendi Born and Ryan Beasley, associate professor of political science.

“Over the last year, between retirements and some of the people that have left, we’re losing some of the best of the best,” University President Pat Long said. “We need to rebuild that and bring in the best of the best.”

Rand Ziegler, vice president and dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, said several faculty positions were approved in an executive cabinet meeting.

The approvals included searching for replacements for Floreani and Born, as well as hiring a full-time faculty member to work with the biology and chemistry departments, and a full-time, tenure track replacement for JoAnne Gibson-Lucas, adjunct professor of communication.

Two English professor candidates have already been on campus, while the final candidate was  scheduled to visit Thursday.

Instructor of English Marti Mihalyi has been offered a full-time position for next year, while the search for a replacement for retiring Associate Professor of English Virginia Fambrough could be put off until next year. Until then, Rob Howard, adjunct professor of liberal arts, has also been offered a one-year, full-time appointment.

Neither professor has made a decision.

The university continued to look to promote from within, as Instructor of Theater Scott Stackhouse has also been offered a three-quarter-time position at Baker, but has not made a decision as of Tuesday.

Long received about $500,000 worth of requests for new staff, and although she said every request cannot be granted right now, progress is being made, and the university will not fall back into the problems of a year ago.

“I think that is the reality is we intend to have a budget where our own revenue exceeds our expenses, and that is the bottom line,” Long said. “We won’t put together a budget based on hope or speculation or hoping for a big donation, this is going to have to be on our actual planning and the reports that we have and our projections.”

Cynthia Appl, department chair of language and literature, believes Baker is moving forward and sees the hirings as a good sign.

“I would think that the fact that we are hiring must be an encouraging sign to students. It certainly is to me as a department chair,” Appl said. “It may actually take us a while to get completely back up to full strength, but I think the main thing is we’re making progress on that front.”