University of Illinois increases faculty as enrollment rises
URBANA, Ill. • An increase in enrollment at the University of Illinois system has sparked a move to hire hundreds of new faculty members, which the system's president says will improve teaching conditions.
President Tim Killeen told trustees Thursday that the hiring initiative is needed in response to the 7,500 students that have been added since 2014, The News-Gazette reported. The plan calls for the university system to hire about 900 faculty members across its three campuses over the next five years.
"Reinvesting in talent, faculty talent, is essential," Killeen said.
Faculty hiring lagged as the university struggled with funding during the two-year state budget impasse, Killeen said. The university system has seen a 9.5 percent increase in students, while faculty has only grown by about 2 percent, he said.
It's resulted in larger class sizes and higher student to faculty ratio, which hurts the quality of education and the system's national rankings, Killeen said.
Killeen has instructed the system's three provosts to assess faculty needs and identify departments that are expected to add students.
The Urbana campus could hire almost 500 faculty members over the next five years, with 325 hires replacing departing faculty and nearly 170 newly created positions.
Most of the new positions would be in the university's graduate and professional programs. Other priority hiring areas include engineering, computer science, businesses, statistics, information science, economics and biological and health sciences, Killeen said.
Officials haven't yet released an estimated cost for the program, which would be funded by state appropriations, tuition and fundraising dollars, Killeen said.
Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com