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CU to reshape faculty for future growth
Mar 19, 2004 12:00 am
Cumberland University President Dr. Harvill Eaton announced plans this week to reshape the school's faculty as a means of fueling growth at the school.
Eaton discussed a pair of recent decisions Wednesday, indicating members of the regional work force will be sought to address some classes and a "small number" of current faculty members will not receive offers to renew their respective contracts.
He noted the decisions are not related, adding the decision to reduce the CU faculty is a result of "flattened" enrollment numbers in recent years.
"If you'll look over the last several years … the enrollment here has grown slowly but steadily over roughly a decade," Eaton said. "It's been not spectacular growth, but it's been growth. In the last couple of years, it's been flatter than three or four years ago."
Thus, he continued, "a small number on the order of five" of the university's 84 professors will not receive offers to renew their respective one-year contracts this month.
Eaton explained that although some contracts would not be renewed, new faculty members could be hired in the fall if enrollment numbers increase.
"It seems to me that the right thing to do is for me to not renew (the contracts) based on what I know the numbers to be today," he said. "At the same time, I believe we'll grow this fall … The wrong side of the guess would be to issue contracts now and then have the numbers not materialize.
"So, what I decided to do was to not renew and … if the enrollment pops up in the fall – like I hope it does – then, we'll be hiring. If the enrollment doesn't, then we won't."
Earlier this week, Eaton announced plans to further change the shape of the school's faculty, indicating he intends for one-third of the faculty body to be comprised of community and area practitioners who are accomplished in their respective fields.
Eaton said universities should understand part of their responsibility is to prepare students for the workplace, and he noted the addition of such instructors will give CU graduates an edge upon entering the work force.
"I imagine a faculty that is connected to the workplace, and one way of doing that is to layer on top of the traditional faculty – to layer on top of the academic scholars a group of individuals who are out there doing it," Eaton remarked. "Imagine you're a creative writer or a journalist and having a noted journalist or noted novelist who would come in from time to time to give you the perspective of the practicing journalist or the practicing novelist."
Referring to the plan as a "renaissance," Eaton said it will mark a return to a model first established in the days of Cumberland's law school when members of the local bar shared their experiences with CU law students. He added CU nursing students already work closely with health care professionals as a part of the school's nursing program.
"I want to apply that same concept that has been proven in fields like medicine and health care and proven in the legal profession as well … It creates a dynamic in the classroom that is exciting," Eaton commented.
And while he noted some of the workplace-oriented faculty will work on a volunteer basis, others will require some form of compensation. He said pay would be determined on a "one-by-one" basis.
Still, he stressed tuition for the coming academic year will not increase.
"Cumberland will (continue) to provide an affordable, quality education. We will aggressively recruit outstanding students who seek quality instruction from the best academic scholars and proven leaders in the real world," Eaton concluded.