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May 17, 2018

U of I to develop faculty hiring plan
Goal: Growth that keeps pace with enrollment

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – University of Illinois President Tim Killeen announced Thursday that plans will be developed setting an ambitious goal for increased faculty hiring across the three-university system over the next five years.

Killeen told the Board of Trustees that he will work with chancellors on a program to add “hundreds” of faculty and keep pace with enrollment that increased to nearly 84,000 students last fall, a record for the fifth straight year. He expects hiring plans to be completed by later this year.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to build on the foundation that defines our excellence,” said Killeen. “In the end, our universities rise on the quality of our students and faculty. As we grow one group, we must nourish and grow the other.”

He said enrollment gains rooted in academic quality and aggressive student recruiting efforts coincided with uncertainty over state funding in recent years. He said university leaders were especially conservative in hiring during a two-year state budget impasse that significantly reduced funding for day-to-day operations.

As a result, he said, system-wide enrollment increased about 7 percent over the last five years, by nearly 5,600 students. Meanwhile, faculty numbers rose by only a little over 2 percent, a net addition of 139 faculty after retirements and resignations.

Of those, he said, 62 were tenure-track and 77 were non-tenure track.  Most of the growth in the non-tenure track category occurred at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where clinical faculty are needed for health-care training and education.  

Killeen said the U of I System is positioned to invest in faculty because cost controls and efficiencies have held down expenses while revenues have grown, supported by restored state funding and tuition generated by enrollment increases.

He said maintaining the balance between enrollment and faculty growth is vital to academic quality because as class sizes increase, it reduces the opportunity for individual student attention. Faculty-student ratios are among factors in university rankings, which influence decisions of prospective students as well as faculty and staff.

“This is an issue that cuts to our core; an issue that transcends campuses and disciplines, with implications now and into the future,” Killeen said. “So we must re-invest in talent, and set an ambitious goal that will support our excellence and reputation across the U of I System.”

The chancellors of the U of I System’s three universities said they look forward to working with Killeen to develop an aggressive, five-year hiring plan.

“Hiring tenure-track faculty is the best investment for the future that a university can make,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. “Our faculty are the brain and the heart of UIC and we are enthusiastically participating in this U of I System initiative.”

 “The opportunity to work closely with highly qualified faculty in an individualized environment is a hallmark of the student experience at the University of Illinois at Springfield,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “As UIS continues to grow, it is vital that we recruit and retain talented and diverse teacher-scholars whose primary interest is in providing students with an exceptional learning experience that prepares them for a successful future.” 

“Recruiting and retaining the best and brightest faculty members in the world has always been the foundation of the unmatched excellence of our educational and scholarly accomplishments,” said Robert J. Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Our hiring efforts will be guided by the initiatives and goals set out in our emerging strategic plan to ensure that we remain a global leader in discovery, learning and engagement for the next 150 years.”

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The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 83,000 students, nearly 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.