New hires said to address shortage of professors
USC officials said in November that they had set aside $3.4 million to hire 27 new faculty members. However, the university announced last week that those numbers have increased to $4.5 million and 40 new faculty members.
Provost Michael Amiridis said USC paid for these new faculty with funds from
increases in tuition and enrollment from last year. He said the increase from 27 to 40 hires was due to an unexpected influx of revenue from a record number of students.
"We've done better than we assumed, and we put this money back exactly where we thought it best helps students," Amiridis said.
Top administrators hope this increase will address what they have called a shortage of professors throughout the university.
Approximately 160 departments had submitted competing proposals for new hires to the provost's office since the Faculty Hiring Replenishment Initiative was announced in November, Amiridis said. USC has only announced the approved positions and the maximum amount it is willing to offer in salaries; it's up to the departments to fill the positions and negotiate the hiring of the most esteemed individuals for the lowest prices.
"It costs money, and we have to negotiate, but that's how much money we're providing," said Senior Vice Provost Christine Curtis, who oversaw the hiring initiative. "The colleges can put in more if they have to for a very senior level, very well-known scholar."
Curtis said that any money saved during hiring will go back to the university for other investments.
Amiridis said USC was trying to "kill two birds with one stone" by selecting proposals to fill needed teaching positions while addressing specific research scholarship areas. The specific research areas USC is targeting are most visible in its hiring clusters of inter- and intradisciplinary faculty, perhaps most interesting of which is the Safety-Critical Aerospace Systems cluster, which will focus on aircraft safety. The cluster will consist of an expert in nondestructive maintenance and two assistants in sensor and control electronics and software engineering. Curtis said that colleges and faculty have been developing their expertise in aerospace since Boeing announced its intention to build a production facility in South Carolina. She said the cluster proposal came in many months before USC had any knowledge of Darla Moore's $5 million donation to the school for an aerospace center.
China Studies is the name of the largest approved cluster with five new assistant or associate professor positions, all within the College of Arts and Sciences. One will be an expert in modern Chinese art, one in Chinese history, one in Chinese language and literature, one in Chinese international or comparative politics and the last in Asian religions.
Allen Miller, chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, said he believed student demand for courses on China, USC's ties with Beijing
Language and Cultural University and the economic importance of China all contributed to USC's investment in the research field.
"There's intense interest in China in political science, in engineering, in history and obviously in the languages," Miller said.