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New study points to serious trouble in faculty retention at universities


By David Schwartz
Published: February 22nd, 2012

A novel study in the journal Science suggests that along with the need to attract and retain bright students, universities face an even more pressing challenge: the retention of professors.

Deborah Kaminski of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who led the study, says the study reveals that faculty members of both genders stay for a median of 11 years. That may seem like a long time, but she points out that “if you hire 100 assistant professors tomorrow, in 11 years only 50 of them will still be at your school.” According to Kaminski, these numbers should be “a big red flag to everyone in higher education,” especially to research universities, where the recruitment process is more expensive and competitive start-up packages for new faculty can cost over $1 million.

Kaminski also points out that assistant professors usually teach fewer courses per year, since they’re expected to spend most of their time writing proposals, securing grants, and launching their research program. Under such circumstances, new faculty members are more costly to employ for their first few years, or until they can start attracting research funding. “We think this study could be an important reference point to help obviate many practical and financial reasons for why all universities should arguably be spending more time, energy, and resources on retaining younger facilty,” says Kaminski.

Source: Science Blog

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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