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Updated 10:00 AM November 19, 2007
 

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President Coleman announces 100 new faculty

From developing alternative sources of energy and slowing global warming to fighting infectious superbugs and combating poverty, it is ever more apparent that finding solutions to society's biggest concerns will require crossing traditional boundaries of research and scholarship.

This reality has prompted President Mary Sue Coleman to fund 100 tenure-track faculty members over the next five years to expand interdisciplinary teaching and research. In an address to the Board of Regents Nov. 15, Coleman announced her plan to provide $10 million annually for salaries and benefits and a one-time $20 million for startup costs to fund the junior faculty positions.

The new faculty will be funded centrally, not out of department and program budgets.

"This is a major commitment ... financially and philosophically," Coleman said.

"As faculty evaluate scholarship, they must challenge each other to think differently about work that crosses boundaries."

The faculty expansion program builds on Coleman's 2005 initiative, in which the University invested $2.5 million to stimulate team teaching and develop multidisciplinary courses and degree programs.

"No other university offers faculty and students our scope and scale of fields of study, and the opportunities to push their ideas in new directions," she said.

Coleman said priority for the expanded program will be given to new hires that advance the University's major teaching and research initiatives, such as energy and environmental sustainability.

"This kind of work has never been more important," Coleman told regents and others assembled at the Alumni Center for her address to campus.

In outlining a plan for the positions, Coleman and Provost Teresa Sullivan said further priority will be given to proposals that involve cluster hires surrounding an emerging topic — where faculty share research facilities or work with an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. They encourage proposals that address instructional staffing in areas of intense enrollment pressure, and that clearly articulate the unit's plan for creating appropriate space for the faculty member to be successful.

"The faculty we are interested in hiring are those who will encourage our undergraduates to think about solving problems in new ways," Sullivan said. "The successful proposals would expand our research activity in emerging areas of priority and would involve innovative initiatives led by tenure-eligible faculty."

Programs interested in obtaining funding for a new position will submit a written proposal to the provost. If approved, the provost's office will fund starting salary and benefits totaling up to $100,000 per faculty member. The startup costs would be allocated in amounts up to $500,000 in lab science and engineering. Financial help also could be provided to repurpose space for an office or lab.

Funding for the hiring will come from the president's faculty recruitment and retention fund, the provost's discretionary fund and the general fund. Startup costs will come primarily from the chief financial officer's construction fund.

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